2019 July 13 Saturday

Asian Infrastructure Forum (AIF) - Opening Session: Connecting with Neighbors: How to Create Partnership through Infrastructure (Open Event)

Grand Auditorium, Philharmonie


  • The Asian Infrastructure Forum (AIF) is a business development event that aims to create connections and develop project pipelines.  
  • The opening session will set the scene through a high-level dialogue on promoting cross-border connectivity investments and the role of infrastructure in facilitating cooperation and partnership in and with Asia. 
  • Introduce AIIB’s forward investment strategy. 



Cross-border connectivity is central to the economic development. Globally, the poverty ratio has declined from 42 percent in 1981 to 10 percent in 2015, coinciding with a period of rising cross-border connectivity  and trade. Infrastructure connectivity, trade in goods and services, and poverty reduction go hand in hand. 


In the last 50 years, Europe has experienced unprecedented economic and institutional integration fostering economic growth. Infrastructure connectivity was a key element alongside the building of common institutions, regulation and markets. In Asia, connectivity and cooperation is progressing, with a notable role of the private sector through cross-border investment and integration of global supply chains.


Asia and Europe are also working to deepen their connectivity. The EU-Asia Joint Communication on “Connecting Europe and Asia: Building blocks for an EU Strategy” in 2018 made mutual connectivity between people, businesses and institutions a top political priority. This presents opportunities for the business community in a wide range of areas, from investing in the cross-border connections to business activities facilitated by the enhanced connectivity; as well as tasks for policy makers to create an enabling environment to foster better connectivity. 


Promoting cross-border connectivity is AIIB’s core mandate. As an opening plenary of the 2019 Asian Infrastructure Forum (AIF), the session invites policymakers and the private sector to discuss the opportunities and challenges of cross-border connectivity and the role that infrastructure investments can play in enhancing cooperation and partnership in and with Asia. 


Discussion Topics

  • Connecting with neighbours: What are the enabling framework conditions for cross-border infrastructure investment?
  • Learning from success and barriers: What are the lessons learnt from successful infrastructure connectivity projects in Europe across sectors (transport, water, energy, ICT, etc)? What are the challenges from both policy and business perspectives?
  • Seizing the opportunity: What are the needs for infrastructure investments to enhance cross-border connectivity in/with Asia? What are the opportunities for the private sector?
  • Cooperation for connectivity: What is the role of AIIB in financing sustainable development and mobilizing private sector for cross-border connectivity projects? 


Session Format

  • A key note speech. Followed by a moderated panel discussion. 



Shaukat Aziz

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, AIIB International Advisory Panel member


His Excellency Mr. Shaukat Aziz was elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan and served from 2004 – 2007, following five years as Finance Minister from 1999. Mr. Aziz was the first Prime Minister of Pakistan to complete a full term in office. Mr. Aziz restored his country’s credibility at home and abroad and is renowned for his strategic approach, structural reforms, transparency and ability to focus on what is best, not simply what is politically expedient. After graduating from Gordon College, Rawalpindi in 1967, Mr. Aziz gained a MBA degree from the Institute of Business Administration, University of Karachi. An internship at Citibank marked the beginning of a 30 year career in global finance, encompassing roles in Pakistan, Greece, United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Philippines, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. As Executive Vice President, he held several senior management positions in Citibank. Mr. Aziz is a member of several boards and advisory boards of various commercial and non-profit entities around the world. Mr. Aziz’s book, ‘From Banking to the Thorny World of Politics’, was published by Quartet in May 2016 and is available on

Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch

State Secretary, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Switzerland


Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch serves as the Director of the Foreign Economic Affairs Directorate of Switzerland since April 2011. Previously she held the position of Federal Council Ambassador, Delegate for Trade Agreements and Switzerland's chief negotiator at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).  She served in the Board of Directors of SECO and  as the Head of the World Trade Division in the Foreign Economic Affairs Directorate od Switzerland she was also responsible for OECD free trade agreements. Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch holds a Master in Business Administration from the  Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires in Fontainebleau, France.

Liqun Jin

President, AIIB

Mohamed Maait

Minister, Ministry of Finance, Egypt


Dr. Mohamed Maait is currently serving as the Minister of Finance,  Prior to his appointment as Minister, he held the position Vice Minister of Finance for Public Treasury Affairs & Head of the Economic Justice Unit. In addition he served as First Deputy Minister of Finance in 2015 and as a Deputy to the Minister of Finance for Pension and Social Insurance during the period (2009– 2013). In addition, he served as First Deputy Minister of Health & Population (2014 – 2015). Over his career of 33 years, he held many positions  such as Vice Chairman of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (2013-2015), Chairman of the Egyptian Governmental Actuarial Department (EGAD) at the Ministry of Finance (2010– 2013), Vice Chairman of the National Organization for Social Insurance (2011-2012), Senior Advisor to the Minister of Finance (2007-2009). He was also appointed as the Executive Director of the Egyptian Insurance Institute (2007). He also worked as a senior lecturer and has more than 30 years of teaching and researching experience at many universities in Egypt, Sudan, England and Scotland. He is also a member of many national and international committees  and boards of directors. 


Dr. Maait holds a BSc degree in Insurance and Mathematics from Cairo University, Egypt (1984), an MPhil in Insurance from Cairo University, Egypt (1992), he also got a Diploma (1996), an MSc in Actuarial Science (1997), and a PhD degree in Actuarial Science from City University, London, UK (2003).

D.J. Pandian

Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, Office of the VP, Chief Investment, AIIB


Dr. D. J. Pandian leads the investment portfolio for the Bank, having oversight for all sovereign and non-sovereign lending. In this role, he and his team of specialists are responsible for the end-to-end management of the Bank’s project pipeline from identification to implementation. Before joining AIIB, he had an extensive career spanning 30 years with the Indian Administrative Services, holding key positions at the state, national, and international levels in the energy (oil and gas, power, renewable), infrastructure, finance sectors. During his career, he served in the Government of Gujarat in various capacities including: Chief Secretary; Additional Chief Secretary, Industries and Mines; and Principle Secretary, Energy and Petrochemicals Department. Dr. Pandian received his PhD in energy security and MBA from University of Madras, India. He is a national of India.

Giovanni Tria

Minister, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Italy


Giovanni Tria serves as the Minister of the Economy and Finance of Italy since June 2018. Since 2017 he is the Dean of the Faculty of Economics, University of Rome "Tor Vergata". Mr. Tria has more than 40 years of professional and academic experience in the fields of as expert of economic development, business cycle and growth, public investment assessment and project evaluation and in the role of the governance of the institutions on the growth process. In the past, he was President of the Italian National School of Public Administration and Delegate for the Italian Government on the Board of Directors of the International Labour Organization (ILO). He also served as Member of the "OECD Innovation Strategy Expert Advisory Group" and Vice Chair of the “Committee for Information, Computer and Communication Policy” (ICCP). Mr. Tria obtained his Master Degree in Law in 1971 from the University of Rome "La Sapienza".

Jiayi Zou

Vice Minister, Ministry of Finance, China


Madam Jiayi Zou serves as Vice Minister of the Ministry of Finance of China since June 2018. Prior to her current position, she served as commissioner at the National Commission of Supervision from March-June 2018, and served as Vice Minister of the Ministry of Supervision from April 2017 to March 2018. Previously, she held numerous prestigious positions including Chief Inspector of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Inspector’s Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Office and Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Finance. Madam Zou has broad international experience having served as Director General at several departments in charge of international economic and financial affairs of the Ministry of Finance from 2009 to 2015 and Executive Director for China at the World Bank in Washington D.C. from 2005 to 2009. Madam Zou obtained a Master’s Degree in International Economic Relations from the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).



Stephen Howard

International Advisory Panel member, AIIB


Steve Howard is a global strategist and business advisor.

As Secretary General of the non-profit Global Foundation, Steve has led the necessary global push for the adoption of ‘co-operative globalisation, a positive strategy for inclusive, ‘win-win’ economic development and a sustainable global economy. Many world leaders, including Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Christine Lagarde, Pascal Lamy and Mark Camey, have personally participated in and endorsed this and related initiatives.


Through this unusually collaborative and low-key approach, Steve has helped to shape global affairs with practical outcomes over the past 20 years.


He led the successful renaissance strategy for Melbourne, in Australia in the 1990's, including a national strategy for private sector investment in public infrastructure, now adopted as a business model, worldwide. He continues to advise on complex infrastructure projects and funds in emerging markets.

In 1998, he co-founded and has since led the Global Foundation, for which an early centerpiece was the restoration of relations between Australia and the European Union and France in particular.


Steve is respected in China for his contribution to China's global engagement over the past 20 years. Highlights have included: his role in bringing China, the US and Australia together on global climate change policy, and more recently, his integral role in the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the first international institution led by China. He visits China regularly for high-level dialogues embracing security, international relations and multilateral economic development.


He studied in Australia and then London, under a British Government scholarship. Steve was awarded the Chevalier of the Order of Merit for his contribution to France-Australia relations in 2004