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ICBC to boost international services

By Jiang Xueqing | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-03-31 23:31

Despite facing geopolitical risks, rising unilateralism and protectionism, and strengthened requirements for compliance management this year, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China will continue to promote international operations, a senior executive of the bank said on Friday.

As China accelerates its opening-up policy, high-quality internationalized financial services will be needed for increasing cross-border economic and trade investment, expanding global industrial and supply chains, and promoting cross-border flows of enterprises and residents, said Guan Xueqing, board secretary of ICBC, at a news conference announcing its 2022 annual results.

As China's largest state-owned commercial lender by assets, ICBC said it will continuously expand and deepen global operations and create new drivers of growth.

During the process, it will ensure that operational risk is controllable, Guan said.

"We will strengthen the linkage management of risks both domestically and overseas, enhance the compliance management capability of our overseas institutions, make proactive risk judgments, and efficiently respond to various significant uncertainties that may arise in the future," he said.

Last year was the 30th anniversary of the internationalization of ICBC.

Over the last 30 years, the bank has gradually built a global service network covering 69 countries and regions.

In the past decade, the average annual growth of its overseas assets exceeded 10 percent, and the average annual growth of its pretax profits exceeded 8 percent, Guan said.

Last year, overseas institutions of ICBC posted a pretax net profit of $3.9 billion, up 15 percent year-on-year.

The asset quality of its overseas institutions remained in good condition, with the nonperforming loan ratio being only 0.79 percent, declining by 0.12 percentage points, Guan said.

The volume of international settlement at its domestic branches increased by 8 percent year-on-year, while the volume of its cross-border renminbi settlement grew by 5 percent.

The bank made new breakthroughs in business expansion. From last year to the beginning of this year, China's central bank appointed ICBC as the renminbi clearing bank for Laos, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Brazil. Currently, ICBC acts as a renminbi clearing bank in 11 countries.

In terms of foreign investment and trade services, ICBC provided strong financial support for key foreign-funded and foreign trade enterprises. The total amount of financing reached 1.17 trillion yuan ($170.2 billion) last year, increasing by 25.8 percent year-on-year.

In terms of expanding drivers of growth, ICBC was approved as one of the first pilot institutions for Southbound Trading under China's Bond Connect program and gained the qualifications for providing foreign exchange payment and settlement for parties to a cross-border e-commerce transaction.

These businesses are becoming the new driving force and growth points for the bank's international operations, Guan said.

Meanwhile, its front-line foreign exchange business operating capability and foreign exchange compliance management capability have significantly improved, he added.

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