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WB Head: Investment Funds Could Help Europe

China Daily, April 11, 2012 Adjust font size:

World Bank President Robert Zoellick has suggested that China help Europe by encouraging its investment funds to seek "business opportunities" in the debt-stricken region, rather than contributing to the International Monetary Fund to buy bonds.

After Europe expanded its bailout funds, the European Union urged the leaders of the world's 20 largest economies - including China - to contribute more to the IMF to help solve Europe's debt problems.

"There will be efforts to give additional support to the IMF and China can do that, but ... I have a slightly different perspective than the IMF's macroeconomic focus," said Zoellick in an exclusive interview with China Daily on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2012 held in early April.

"The most important thing would be for some (Chinese) investment funds to look at opportunities in Europe," he said. "That will help with the growth European economies need."

Premier Wen Jiabao said in February that China is willing to help the eurozone deal with its debt problems through IMF channels, but the key to resolving the crisis lies in Europe's own efforts.

Yuan Gangming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think-tank, said early this year that China is expected to allocate 100 billion euros to aid Europe via the European Financial Stability Facility.

The IMF is seeking to more than double its war chest by raising $600 billion in new resources to help deal with the eurozone crisis.

But many G20 countries said the eurozone must raise more money on its own before they could inject any new money into the IMF.

Last month, finance ministers from the 17 eurozone countries raised the combined lending capacity of their two bailout funds to 700 billion euros from 500 billion euros.

"Frankly, it's important for China to support the international system, but I think it's important for Europe and others to be realistic about how that could be done," said Zoellick.

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors are expected to discuss an increase in IMF resources on April 22 in Washington.

Zoellick compared his suggestion on China's aid to Europe to the possible role China could play in a "BRICS bank".

Establishment of a "Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa bank", funded by developing nations to support projects in those countries and possibly other developing nations, was proposed at a recent summit in New Delhi. Zoellick said the World Bank would support such a bank.

"One of the things that the World Bank will do is to look at how the program for the 79 poor countries evolves. As certain countries like India and Vietnam are now starting to transition, one possibility would be to use credits from China, like what it gives to the IMF, to support them to transition," he said.

China could thus support impoverished developing countries in a different way from the US or Britain, he added.

With the world's largest foreign reserves, China is encouraging qualified companies to buy abroad. The European debt crisis creates opportunities for Chinese buyers, said government officials and experts.

Many European nations, for their part, have welcomed Chinese investment to help them during the crisis.

An official from the China Investment Corp said in early March that the sovereign wealth fund expects to increase its involvement in Europe in the near term.

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