IFC to continue investments in China

Company will focus on financing SMEs, infrastructure and energy

BEIJING – International Finance Corp (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group which focuses on the development of the private sector in emerging markets, plans to invest more than $500 million in China during its next fiscal year.

The funds will be mainly used to support private enterprise in western China in the fields of renewable energy, rural finance and agribusiness, according to Karin Finkelston, the company’s vice-president for the Asia-Pacific region.

IFC will focus on investments in infrastructure, improved access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises and combating climate change through the use of clean energy and improved energy efficiency, Finkelston told China Daily.

“One of the key challenges for the growth of small-scale enterprises is the difficulties they face in obtaining financing. IFC is helping banks and micro-finance institutions to better understand how to lend to small business and bring global business experience to China,” she said.

By the end of June, IFC had invested in 11 micro-finance institutions, two rural commercial banks and a guarantee company that helps farmers to obtain loans.

IFC has just appointed Finkelston as its first vice-president exclusively focused on the Asia-Pacific region. During its last fiscal year, which ended on June 30, IFC facilitated $21 billion in loans to small-scale enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region, supported the provision of approximately 30,000 jobs and aided 840,000 farmers, according to a company statement.

IFC’s investment in China reached $670 million during its last fiscal year. The company supported 25 projects related to energy-efficiency financing, wind-power production and development, agribusiness and rural financing. Many of the projects are situated in China’s western regions.

According to a 2010 report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the GDP growth rate for western China, which includes the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu, was 14.2 percent, faster than the average 10.3 percent recorded nationwide.

The report predicted that the economic growth rate for China’s western regions might reach 13 percent this year, driven by the faster pace of industrialization.

“Our goal is to accelerate economic growth in the less-developed regions of China and to help balance growth between coastal and inland areas,” Finkelston said.

IFC is now financing China WindPower Group Ltd’s first wholly owned project – the 201-megawatt Xiehe plant in northwestern Gansu province, deep in the Gobi desert. IFC provided a $45 million loan for the project and mobilized a further $95 million from foreign commercial banks. IFC also took an equity stake of $10 million in the new-energy company.

“Now China WindPower is looking at projects in Africa and some other countries, and we will support them to better cope with the challenges of climate change and energy efficiency overseas,” said Finkelston.

IFC invested about $18.7 billion in 513 projects worldwide in its fiscal year 2011, a slight increase from the $18 billion it invested in fiscal 2010. Its global investments have more than doubled in the past five years.

Source: China Daily

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