The two banks signed a memorandum of understanding which will provide 10 billion renminbi (£1.1bn) to “facilitate” projects connected to the initiative, a central plank of President Xi Jinping’s economic plans.
London-headquartered Standard Chartered, which focuses on lending to emerging markets, will use the use this facility to support loans that will fund corporate finance projects and trade finance transactions, the bank said.
The Belt and Road initiative is a loose collection of infrastructure projects centred on nations around China which will nevertheless add up to the largest economic policy ever conceived.
The deal was signed in front of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Theresa May during her trip to China, although the Prime Minister has this week given mixed signals on her backing of the Belt and Road plan.
The massive trillion-dollar investment planned by the Chinese state has been pinpointed by analysts as a key opportunity for British banks in particular as countries around Asia and beyond organise finance for investments, but May yesterday declined to give her official endorsement of the plan, with officials citing concerns around international trade standards.
Bill Winters, Standard Chartered chief executive, said the agreement “brings us closer together, and offers more flexibility of funding” particularly in renminbi, adding it will “help clients mitigate or avoid risks.”
The Belt and Road – which confusingly refer to overland and maritime trade routes respectively – aims to produce a new “silk road” from China to other nations around Asia, Africa and Europe. The Chinese government hopes the mostly developing nations joining the project will become bigger consumers of goods and services for the second-largest, and still growing, economy in the world.