14 June 2013
China Opportunities Dominate Hong Kong-EU Plenary
Munich Meeting Spotlights China’s Outbound Investment
HKTDC Executive Director Fred Lam (left) joins Dr Paul Achleitner, Chairman of the European Union committee (centre), and Victor Chu, Chairman of the Hong Kong Committee, at the June 2013 plenary session in Munich
14 June 2013 – Continuing business opportunities on the Chinese mainland dominated discussions today in Munich, Germany, at the 13th Plenary Session of the Hong Kong-European Union and European Union-Hong Kong Business Cooperation Committees.
Some 40 senior business executives from Hong Kong and Europe took part in the annual bilateral meeting, which was chaired jointly by Victor Chu, head of the Hong Kong Committee and Chairman of the First Eastern Investment Group, and his counterpart, Dr Paul Achleitner, who chaired the European Union committee. Dr Achleitner is Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank AG.
China’s Urban Future
Speaking at the opening session and its focus on the emerging economic landscape under China’s new leadership, Mr Chu noted that the Chinese mainland’s export-led growth model was no longer sustainable. In its place, he said, the mainland was developing “a new socio-economic model” built on re-industrialisation, energy efficiency, sustainability and urbanisation. That and “the huge potential in the domestic consumption power,” he said, offer European Union companies “massive business opportunities on the mainland for the foreseeable future.”
Central to the plan is advanced technology and equipment for industry, and quality consumer services and products for the mainland’s fast-expanding middle class.
“Europe has plenty of both,” said Hong Kong Trade Development Council Executive Director Fred Lam, who noted that mainland Chinese companies have been eagerly investing overseas in recent years, using Hong Kong for capital management, loan financing, due diligence and other international services. “China’s Central Government recognises Hong Kong’s advantages in these areas and has asked Hong Kong to help mainland companies better manage their outward investments,” said Mr Lam. This, he added, underlines “Hong Kong’s vital role in bringing China-European business interests together.”
Hong Kong is also the “premier offshore market for the renminbi,” and this presents other opportunities for European companies, said Bank of China (Hong Kong) Ltd Vice Chairman and Chief Executive He Guangbei, a plenary guest speaker. Mr Guangbei estimated that “about 70 per cent of the cross-border trade settlement in the renminbi is handled through the Hong Kong trading system.”
In the session devoted to the European Union’s perspective, Dr Achleitner reminded plenary members that, “despite the economic downturn and debt issues, Europe remains the strongest contributor to world GDP, accounting for approximately 25 per cent.” He added that “the worst of the crisis in Europe has passed, and that recovery is underway, albeit slowly and incrementally.”
Innovation and Education
Guest speaker Wolfgang Herrmann, President of Technische Universität Mϋnchen, spoke about the critical importance of innovation and education to the EU’s future. “Fostering internationalisation should be at the forefront of the education agenda,” he said, emphasising the value of building alliances with overseas institutions.
"The digitalisation of education will also serve to democratize education and nurture talent,” he added. Professor Herrmann cited several educational institutions leading the way in applying innovative technology, from his university’s centre for entrepreneurship, UnternehmerTUM, to MOOCs@TUM, a project offering free online courses around the world in cooperation with Coursera and edX.
Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Council, was keynote speaker at the dinner following the plenary. Mr Ischinger spoke about the role of international security relations in building bilateral economic engagement.
Recognising the importance of involving business leaders from non-EU economies, committee members from both sides unanimously agreed to rebrand the bilateral partnership under the unifying name of the “Hong Kong-Europe Business Council.” The next plenary session of the Council is scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in May 2014. The HKTDC serves as the Council’s secretariat.
Please contact the HKTDC's Corporate Communication Department:
Tel: (852) 2584 4216
About the HKTDC
A statutory body established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and service providers . With more than 40 global offices, including 11 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and throughout Asia. The HKTDC also organises trade fairs and business missions to connect companies with opportunities in Hong Kong and on the mainland, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and online. For more information, please visit: www.hktdc.com.