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The World Bank: Asia Construction Investment

Since it was established the 1940s The World Bank has grown from a single institution to a closely associated group of 5 development institutions. Their objective evolved from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) as facilitator of post-war reconstruction and development to the current objective to help alleviate worldwide poverty. The World Bank provide a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing construction markets in countries around the world

Originally based in Washington USA with a staff of engineers and financial analysts, today the organisation has grown to more than 10,000 employees in over 120 offices worldwide, with multidisciplinary and diverse staff that includes economists, public policy experts, sector experts and social scientists. In today's World Bank, poverty reduction is the principal goal of their work, however reconstruction and construction still remains a key element of achieving this goal.

Future Investment in Asia

Investing in new construction, infrastructure and development projects is a key part of The World Bank’s activities. To date there has been investment in around 12,000 projects in over 170 countries.  Since 2003 they have taken on 12 projects within S.East Asia region, committing nearly US$40 million.

Hong Kong has always been a leading country in the Asia market for new construction and infrastructure projects, and The World Bank group now sees Hong Kong playing key role in emerging market infrastructure financing. The International Finance Corporation IFC (part of the World Bank Group) has been seeking innovative ways to enable private involvement in infrastructure financing in emerging economies, with Hong Kong expected to play a key role in the initiative. The IFC has recently collaborated with Allianz which will invest US$500 million in IFC debt financing for infrastructure projects in emerging markets. This announcement was made at the first executive workshop organised jointly by IFFO and IFC.

The IFFO (Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office) was established in July by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to facilitate infrastructure investments and financing. They hope to raise about US$3-$5 billion in the next few years through further investment from financial, legal, accounting or other leading sector companies. It is thought Hong Kong is well positioned to play a key role to help connect leading markets to infrastructure projects, with the hope of bringing further retail investors to the table. Hong Kong has many unique advantages to make itself into a leading infrastructure financing centre, including its rich pool of constructors and infrastructure developers.

Asia Pacific Economic Outlook

Infrastructure projects are set to play a key role in the construction market in Asia over the next few years. As growth in developing countries in East Asia and Pacific is expected to remain resilient over the next three years let’s take a look at some of the findings from recent World Bank research on the Asia Pacific wider economic outlook:

  • China is expected to continue its gradual transition to slower, but more sustainable, growth, from 6.7 percent this year to 6.5 percent in 2017 and 6.3 percent in 2018.
  • Developing East Asia growth is projected to remain stable at 4.8 percent this year, and rise to 5 percent in 2017 and 5.1 percent in 2018.
  • Over the longer term, countries need to address constraints to sustained and inclusive growth, including by filling infrastructure gaps.
  • In China, growth will be moderate as the economy continues to rebalance toward consumption, services and higher-value-added activities, and as excess industrial capacity is reduced.
  • Among other large economies, prospects are strongest in the Philippines, where growth is expected to accelerate to 6.4 percent this year
  • In Indonesia, growth will increase steadily, from 4.8 percent in 2015 to 5.5 percent in 2018, the report says, contingent on a pickup in public investment and the success of efforts to improve the investment climate and increase revenues
  • Recommendation that China build on its past success in reducing poverty by improving access to basic public services for the rural population

As The World Bank continues to back investment in new infrastructure projects in Asia, construction markets in these regions look set to remain strong over the next few years. These often large scale and complex construction projects will no doubt require both local and international expertise to help move them forward, and when these project come on stream this should help create a strong jobs market for construction professionals seeking to find work within the region. As we moved into 2017 we can be hopeful of a strong construction market in the Asia region moving forward.

If you’d like to learn more about new projects in the region or potential job opportunities in your field of expertise please get in touch and we’d be happy to discuss with you in more detail.

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Tim Cole
Senior Recruitment Consultant – Hong Kong & Asia

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