Southeast Asian conglomerates are tapping Hong Kong’s role as a connector for Belt and Road-related projects.
The main catalyst for unlocking investments in infrastructure and other major projects will be a “transparent, coherent regulatory framework” (TCRF), says Dr Francis Yeoh, Managing Director of YTL, one of Malaysia’s largest conglomerates.
That’s where Hong Kong comes in, according to Dr Yeoh. “Hong Kong will undoubtedly be a key part of the Belt and Road Initiative not just because it is an international finance centre for the region, but because it is a shining example of how world-class infrastructure can be built if it is backed and funded by TCRF.”
“We are exploring opportunities in cement in new frontier countries like Myanmar and Vietnam, which will have massive potential under the Belt and Road Initiative,” says Dr Yeoh. Cement is among the first to reap the benefits of any infrastructure boom.
Another sector YTL sees potential in is transport, after a memorandum of understanding to build a high-speed rail link between Malaysia and Singapore was signed last July. Having first mooted the idea in 2002, YTL now is closely following the upcoming tender process for the new rail project. Targeted to open in 2036, the rail link is expected to cut travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes.
“Not surprisingly, companies from China are interested and if they regard this project as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, then it would be very exciting to see this as the platform into a wider, high-speed rail network linking ASEAN to China,” says Dr Yeoh, who expects Hong Kong to play a financing role....