24 March 2010
Hong Kong, EU Business Leaders Meet in Hong Kong
“Great Momentum in Hong Kong,” Concerns in Europe, Underline Global Shift
24 March 2010 – The economy dominated discussions at the 11th Plenary Session of the Hong Kong and European Business Co-operation Committees, which took place today in Hong Kong.
“Despite a rocky ride in 2009, Hong Kong’s GDP grew two per cent in the last quarter, and there is now great momentum in Hong Kong,” said Raymond Ch’ien, who is Chairman of both the Hong Kong Committee and the MTR Corporation Ltd.
Hong Kong Middleman
Mr Ch’ien’s optimism on the economy in Hong Kong, and the Chinese mainland, was reflected by several speakers, including Professor Richard Wong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at the University of Hong Kong. Professor Wong told the Plenary session that, as the world turns increasingly to the mainland for business opportunity, Hong Kong has much to offer. Hong Kong, he said, can bring relevant institutional knowledge to the mainland, acting as a middleman and as a general role model for a free and open market economy. He added that Hong Kong employed 11 million workers, mostly for export-oriented manufacturing.
Lawrence Fok, Chief Marketing Officer of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, noted Hong Kong’s continuing role in helping the mainland raise foreign capital, adding that Hong Kong leads the world in IPO fundraising. Barry Cheung, Chairman of the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange, said that the mainland would continue to be a major player in the international commodities market. He added that Hong Kong could play a role in this development, given its world-class expertise in the financial sector, its safe payment systems, property-rights framework, low and simple tax rate, free flow of capital and goods, deep pool of liquidity and strategic geographic position.
On the European side, Maria Castillo Fernandez, Head of Office, Office of the European Union to Hong Kong and Macao, said that Hong Kong is an important platform for European Union countries and would remain an important trade partner.
There was less agreement on the direction of the European Union, with concerns raised about consumer spending, the struggle to stimulate the economy and the fate of the euro.
Working through Trade Conflicts
Michael Treschow, Chairman of both the EU Committee and Ericsson, led discussion to a variety of related issues, including the United States focus on jobs, the Copenhagen conference and protectionism. “When you have all these issues going around, our cooperation committees are needed more than ever,” said Mr Treschow. “In order to make sure that trade conflicts don’t occur, we have to work hard to find ways of communicating and cooperating.”
Other Plenary contributors included: Alessandro Daneu, Chairman, Intersip and CEO, Biosolar Flenco Group; Edward Lau, Managing Director, TNT Hong Kong; and Zheng Wei Kang, CEO, Midea Group Hong Kong.
Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Government, was the Plenary’s keynote luncheon speaker.
The EU was Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner and export market in 2009, behind only the Chinese mainland. Bilateral trade, however, dropped 16 per cent in 2009, due largely to the global downturn, with Hong Kong exports to the EU down 20 per cent.
There were about 1,100 European companies with regional operations in Hong Kong as of June 2009. Their main businesses included wholesale, retail and import-export trade, business services, finance and banking, transport, and manufacturing.
The annual bilateral gathering, organised by the HKTDC, works to enhance business opportunities between European and Hong Kong-based companies.
Please contact the HKTDC's Corporate Communication Department:
Victor George Paddy
Tel: (852) 2584 4517
About the HKTDC
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 offices worldwide, including 11 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and Asia. The HKTDC also organises trade fairs and business missions to connect companies with opportunities in Hong Kong and the mainland, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and online. For more information, www.hktdc.com