23 Oct 2007
All Business at Hong Kong-France Partnership Plenary
"Hong Kong-French Business Relations are Thriving"
October 23, 2007 - From high technology to mass entertainment, French and Hong Kong companies are finding it pays to work together. That enterprising spirit was very much in evidence at the 3rd Plenary of the Hong Kong-France Business Partnership, which took place October 23 in Hong Kong.
The Partnership's annual gathering featured sector-specific breakout sessions for the first time in Hong Kong. In the Manufacturing, Technology and Environmental Protection session, French section member Didier Dutronc detailed his Paris-based company's recent joint venture agreement with a Hong Kong partner. In July, the two companies signed a joint venture agreement to produce electronic components and software for the Chinese mainland market. The advantages of working with a Hong Kong company are clear, said Mr Dutronc. "Our intellectual property rights are very well protected by Hong Kong's stringent, strongly enforced system. And our Hong Kong partner will be able to market our technology more effectively in the Chinese market."
At the lifestyle and branding session, Raphael le Masne de Chermont, Executive Chairman of Tangs Department Stores Ltd, offered an insider's look at the Shanghai Tang fashion and lifestyle brand, describing it as "a Hong Kong company leveraging on French expertise."
"Hong Kong-French business relations are thriving," said David Lie, Chairman of the Partnership's Hong Kong Section. "As of June 2007, there were 177 French companies with regional operations in Hong Kong, compared to just 131 in 2001."
The Plenary also addressed French plans to make it easier for Hong Kong companies to do business in France. Jean-Pierre Thebault, Consul General of the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong, talked of a "new spirit" in France, one in which "foreign investment is welcome." There are "lots of opportunities" for French and Hong Kong companies to work together and much that France can learn from Hong Kong, he said. Mr Thebault added that it was precisely for that reason that Hervé Novelli, French Minister of State responsible for Business and Foreign Trade, was in Hong Kong.
Mr Novelli, along with the Hong Kong and French Section members of the Business Partnership, were special guests at the Chinese World's gala dinner, October 22, in Hong Kong. The Chinese World, an annual symposium on business opportunities in the Chinese mainland, attracted more than 200 French business people.
This year's Plenary also featured the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Fred Wang, Director of Hong Kong's Salon Films Ltd, and Ivan Lebeau, CEO of French-based ElektroGames SA. The two, both members of the Partnership, agreed to set up a US$30 million limited partnership to invest in high-quality, multicultural on-line gaming content. The agreement marks the first time France and Hong Kong have collaborated on a major multimedia investment fund.
"Our Partnership was launched to capture opportunities such as this," said Mr Lie. "Last week, for example, we brought to Hong Kong the Paris-based Atomic Energy Commission, a technological research organisation we visited during the second Plenary in Paris. The Commission is now looking to develop technology cooperation opportunities with Hong Kong companies and institutions."
Henry Tang, Chief Secretary of the Hong Kong Government, delivered the keynote speech at the Plenary luncheon.
The Hong Kong-France Business Partnership was established in 2005 to promote trade, investment and business cooperation between French and Hong Kong companies. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Ubifrance, as Partnership Secretariats, organise the annual Plenary sessions.
The Business Partnership's 4th Plenary is scheduled to take place next year in Paris.