OXIIC Global Infrastructure Conference 2016


Infrastructure is a necessary, and I would say, almost inevitable aspect of globalization. Infrastructure is a key part in integrating the global economic communities. And especially for less developed regions, the accessibility is their disadvantages. The prosperity of a whole country and the prosperity of peoples has always been intimately related to trade. We are all sharing, if you like, this fundamental interest in the infrastructure question and the realisation that infrastructure is part of this much larger deal; the engine of integration. If we were holding this conference 500 years ago, we wouldn’t be holding it in Oxford or in Cambridge or in Harvard or Yale. We would be holding it in Xi’an or in Bukhara or Isfahan or maybe even Kazan. When the railroad went across in America and highways, it opened up areas of farming that did not exist before. The BRI offers a great opportunity, a platform for all these financial institutions to work together to improve the connectivity in the Eurasian continent. The One Belt One Road Initiative includes not only 60 countries but 2/3 of the world’s population. Clearly this is a massively exciting and I would say a very imaginative project. It will require a lot of cross border coordination and that’s in itself will be a diplomatic, political and economic challenge to reach. But I think with a good will, there is every chance of making that work. The problem is the potential to get things wrong. All of this boils down to good decision making. I think if you look carefully, analyze carefully, collect the right evidence and also take uncertainty into account in decision making, you are probably doing as best you can. What is very important is that these conferences happen and the people are garnering ideas and putting ideas together and coming up with thought leadership, if you like, around the whole issue of infrastructure finance. The conference makes really great impression to me. I think it’s wonderful because this conference can attract people from many parts of the world and from many disciplines. …and that creates tremendous expertise around the table for infrastructure projects more generally. People from industry, people from academia, people from government, people from international organisations. We also have geographical representation, and we’ve got geographers in the room, we’ve got economists, and the keynote address was given by a historian. I think we need to blend all these perspectives in order to understand both the potential and the challenges. It’s astonishing to me how many people have never heard of the One Belt One Road. So I’m glad that you are helping raise awareness in the West, awareness that there are opportunities, investment opportunities. Everybody needs capital, so this will help raise capital for even more opportunities for the One Belt One Road. What we have heard today is that change is the new normal. What could be really interesting is what kind of disruptive technologies we have which may impact infrastructure as we know it and which may also define the needs for the future. The last two conferences have very much been focused on cooperation between the UK and China. I think the next step is the world.

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