Luxembourg to help build bridges between Europe, Asia, says finance minister
Luxembourg has always tried to be a go-between and an intermediary that helps build bridges and bring down walls inside the European Union and between Europe and Asia, said Luxembourg’s Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna.
“The spirit of bringing people together and countries together is what we use in our relationship with Asian countries and in particular with China,” Gramegna told Xinhua in a recent interview after Luxembourg was chosen to host the fourth annual meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in July 2019.
The minister noted that the Bank of China established its branch in Luxembourg in 1979 when the Chinese economy was not at all open to the rest of the world.
“We have been a pioneer in those relationships between China and Europe, and we want to continue to do so,” he said.
Luxembourg and China have strong financial links as seven of the major Chinese banks have their European headquarters in Luxembourg currently and have chosen Luxembourg to set up their regional hub for all of the European Union, Gramegna said.
He added that Luxembourg supports the initiative of the AIIB and became the first non-Asian founding member of the multilateral development bank.
The minister further said that although the AIIB was set up only three years ago, it has dispersed more than 5 billion U.S. dollars, financed 28 projects and put emphasis on green issues.
“For the AIIB, the quality of the projects not the quantity is more important. It is important to find the right projects that are going to help the economies to become stronger and more sustainable,” Gramegna said.
The AIIB should really focus on green infrastructure and green finance, he added.
The AIIB should invest in the projects which are compatible with nature and environment, and help raise the standard of living of people, Gramegna suggested.
Furthermore, the minister said that there must be a return on investment, so that it is important to make sure the bank can find good projects which have an economic future and make the recipients become self-sustainable.
“As a multilateral development bank, the AIIB is different from existing ones because it focuses on infrastructure and green investments and a clean environment,” he said.
“The AIIB is one of the milestones of connectivity,” which has gathered the support of 87 members in a very short amount of time.
Calling the bank “one of the antidotes and one of the recipes against protectionism,” Gramegna said all the 87 members of the AIIB are working together to make infrastructures better between the Far-East and Europe, passing through Central Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa, which is the way to bring people together and connect people physically with infrastructure and indirectly with telecommunications, internet and satellite.
“Luxembourg is going to host next year’s AIIB annual meeting which will give us the possibility to showcase what Luxembourg stands for, and specifically to show the potential of our international financial center,” Gramegna said.
Luxembourg has 140 banks and is the second largest provider of investment funds in the world after the United States, with a total of 5,000 billion U.S. dollars under management, noted the minister.
“This is very useful for the AIIB to see how we can use these investment funds, leverage them to fulfill the goals of the AIIB in terms of infrastructure,” he said.
Luxembourg is in the heart of Europe and some players in Europe can be ideal partners for the AIIB, Gramegna said.
“I think our financial center can be an important partner of the AIIB. We are really looking forward to receiving the 87 members in Luxembourg next year,” he said.