Great to be networking over lunch again and making new contacts. We held a joint networking event over a Korean lunch on 19 July with KOCHAM and CGCC. Asia & Africa Committee Chairman Jonathan Lamport together with KOCHAM Chairman Jeong Ju Na and CGCC External Affairs Committee Chairman Derrick Yip welcomed guests and thanked Deputy Consul-General of Korea Park Kyongsig for also joining the event. Members had a great time making new connections and also learning about the latest developments of Korea and we look forward to exploring new business opportunities with Korea. Visit our LinkedIn page for more photos
Louis Kuijs, Chief Economist for Asia Pacific at S&P Global Ratings, and Wei Liao, Senior Vice President and China Economist at PIMCO, shared their thoughts on Asia’s inflationary and economic prospects at a webinar on 19 July.
Kuijs began by discussing the factors influencing the rising inflation in the United States and Europe, as well as their implications for various Asia Pacific economies. Liao then spoke on the inflation outlook and more general economic prospects for China. Both panelists said that they believed that price pressure in the region would remain mild in comparison to the level being experienced by other countries around the world.
A panel of excellent speakers came together on 22 June for our high-level webinar on Indonesia-Hong Kong business trends, co-operation and relaunch after the pandemic.
Sultan B. Najamudin, Deputy Speaker of the House of Regional Representatives of Indonesia, Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of Hong Kong, and Ricky Suhendar, Consul General of Indonesia, delivered remarks and talked about the close ties between the two regions, exemplified by Hong Kong's position as Indonesia's second largest source of foreign direct investment since 2021.
Aries Indanarto from Indonesia's Ministry of Investment, in his keynote speech, said RCEP will play an instrumental role in bringing the region closer and enhancing regional connectivity. He encouraged members to look into opportunities in renewable energy, labour-intesive manufacturing, digital economy and marine economy.
In the following panel discussion, speakers from Hong Kong and Indonesia discussed the latest trends in trade, infrastructure, e-commerce, logistics, as well as the differences in business culture between the regions. In particular, Eric Fok, Chairman of the Chamber's China Committee, explained Hong Kong's unique role as a platform connecting ASEAN countries including Indonesia with the rapidly developing Greater Bay Area. Brian Chan, Vice President of INACHAM, said culture and religion played a big role in Indonesia's business, and advised investors from Hong Kong to build up a local team in the country to better navigate the cultural differences.
Thanks also goes to the Indonesian Diaspora Network-China, Idepreneurs Indonesia, and the Chinese Indonesian Association (INTI) for co-organizing this webinar with us.
It was good to be able to have members attend in person our Asia & Africa Committee meeting on 8 June with Amr Elhenawy, Consul General of Egypt in Hong Kong, who updated members on Egypt’s latest business developments.
Elhenawy said Egypt’s historical ties with Europe and its strong connections with and cultural understanding of Africa and the Arab and Muslim world makes the country an ideal launchpad for businesses to position their business center there to enjoy access to both markets. He added that Egypt also enjoys preferential tariffs for trade with Europe and the U.S., and zero tariffs with other African countries through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), GAFTA and COMESA.
Following the presentation, the committee conducted its election. Members reelected Jonathan Lamport to stay on as Chairman, and Andrew Wells and Edmond Yue as Vice Chairmen, while Dewan Saiful Alam was newly elected as Vice Chairman.
We had an informative webinar today on the investment opportunities in Tasmania, the most southerly state in Australia. Shannon Powell, Australia’s Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner for Hong Kong and Macao, gave members an overview of the country’s economy and priority sectors. In particular, she said the digital technology sector was one of Australia’s most promising sectors, projected to grow to over A$200 billion (HK$1.1 trillion) by 2030. She also encouraged members to look into the country’s plant-based meat and dairy sector.
Moving on to Tasmania specifically, John Perry, Coordinator-General at the Tasmanian Government, said 100% of the island’s energy came from renewable sources, with over three-quarters coming from hydropower plants. The state was therefore an ideal destination for companies looking to make their manufacturing greener and to meet carbon targets. He added that Tasmania was blessed with abundant natural resources, modern infrastructure, and a business-friendly environment, and that there were investment opportunities in setting up solar energy plants.
Also speaking at the webinar, Anna Barlow, Food Innovation Partner at Startupbootcamp Australia, introduced Startupbootcamp, one of the world’s largest accelerator programmes, serving over 1000 startups. This year, the programme is focusing on the circular economy, food, aqua and agritech, and fermentation technology. Philippa Butler, Global Talent Officer at Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, talked about Australia’s Global Talent Visa Program, which allows talented individuals to live, work and study in the country.
Thanks go to the Austrade and Tasmanian Government for co-organizing the webinar with our Asia & Africa Committee.
Israt Ara, Bangladesh’s new Consul General in Hong Kong, visited the Chamber today, where she was greeted by Chamber CEO George Leung and Asia & Africa Committee Chairman Jonathan Lamport.
Accompanied by Consul Md Nazmul Alam and Vice Consul Md Marzuk Islam, the Consul General said business associations in Bangladesh recognised Hong Kong’s unique status as a business hub and were interested in expanding connections with Hong Kong businesses. The Bangladeshi Government was working on establishing 100 new special economic zones to attract foreign investors, particularly for Mainland, Japanese and Korean businesses, who were looking to diversify their supply chains. She said she hoped borders will be able to reopen without social restrictions so both sides will be able to interact face-to-face through networking events, seminars and business delegations.
We had useful seminar today on trade and investment between GBA and ASEAN and Hong Kong’s role. Irina Fan, Director of Research at HKTDC, said China’s trade and investment relations with ASEAN had been growing at a remarkable pace over the past two decades, with China surpassing the U.S., E.U. , U.K. and Japan in 2009 to become the region’s largest trading partner. She added that Hong Kong was an important platform for GBA-based businesses expanding into the ASEAN market as Hong Kong was the bloc’s second largest source of FDI, only after the U.S. GBA businesses were drawn to ASEAN by its cost-effectiveness for business, huge consumer market, abundant resources, and attractive government incentives.
Ricky Ng, Head of Wholesale Banking at UOB Hong Kong, said each ASEAN market had its own charm. Indonesia and Vietnam, for example, were great destinations for manufacturing as costs were relatively low. He pointed out that internet access, advanced manufacturing, and sustainable city solutions were the region’s most promising emerging opportunities, and projected a potential boost of US$1 trillion to the region’s economy by 2025. He added Hong Kong was an ideal stepping stone for Chinese enterprises entering ASEAN, as it possessed a state-of-the-art professional services sector, offered lower costs of financing and more flexible cash flows.
Also speaking at the event, Eva Tsang, Executive Director at Opal Cosmetics (Hong Kong) Limited, shared her experience expanding her company’s personal care and beauty products to the ASEAN market. She suggested that the first thing members should pay attention to when entering the market was to find a reliable partner and take good care of trademark registration and taxation. She also recommended companies make sure they take into consideration local needs, such as getting Halal Certification so that their products are permissible under Islamic law.
Thanks also go to the Chamber’s GBA Working Group Convenor Petrina Tam and Asia & Africa Committee Chairman Jonathan Lamport for moderating the event.
Masakazu Yagyu, Secretary General of the Hong Kong Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (HKJCCI), paid a courtesy call on Chamber CEO George Leung and PR & Programs Director Malcolm Ainsworth to introduce his successor Ryoichi Ito, who will take over as the Secretary General from late-June.
Yagyu said he would remain in Hong Kong after his retirement from HKJCCI. He said that as the Greater Bay Area was becoming an increasingly attractive destination for Japanese businesses in recent years, he will continue his work his new role to help further business ties between Japan, Hong Kong, and the Mainland. Ito said that the Chamber’s business missions to Japan before the pandemic had been successful and he would be happy to restart close collaboration once restrictions are lifted.
Leung expressed his appreciation for Yagyu’s work over the years connecting Hong Kong and Japanese businesses and promoting Japanese culture and products. He also thanked Yagyu for his active participation in the Chamber’s Asia & Africa Committee, and looked forward to working with Yagyu in his new role.
Amr Elhenawy, Consul General of Egypt in Hong Kong, paid a courtesy call to the Chamber’s Asia & Africa Committee Chairman Jonathan Lamport on 5 May. Elhenawy said Egypt, with a population of over 100 million, represented a huge consumer market for potential investors looking to find alternative markets in the region. The country hopes to position itself as a bridge to Africa and MENA countries and touted its young workforce, manufacturing capabilities and location at the crossroads of major supply chains as some of its advantages.
However, he said doing business in Egypt can be challenging at times due to the country’s highly regulated economy and red tape in certain areas of business. He advised companies that wanted to enter the country to find a reliable local business partner who can help comb through intercultural differences and bridge business expectations between them and the local parties.
Both sides agreed to cooperate closely to organize events and help members learn more about Egypt.
Prof Yang Jian, Vice President and Senior Fellow in Shanghai Institute for International Studies (SIIS), gave an overview of the latest developments of the Health Silk Road (HSR) and China's work to bridge the global vaccine gap at the Chamber’s Belt and Road Working Group, hosted by Edmond Yue, Co-convenor, on 11 April. He said China had recently pledged to supply an additional 1 billion vaccines to Africa, on top of the 2 billion pledged globally in 2021, to help the continent achieve its goal of vaccinating 60% of the African population by 2022. The country was also working with the international community to promote mutual vaccine recognition.
Also speaking at the meeting, Henry Tillman, Founder of China Investment Research, gave members an in-depth analysis of China's mRNA vaccine development, saying there was hope that one or two mRNA vaccines would be released in late 2022. China was working closely with over 27 developing countries via technology transfer and joint ventures to help them set up factories to produce vaccines locally, among which Indonesia, Pakistan, UAE and Uzbekistan led in number of vaccines produced. He encouraged members to explore investment opportunities in medical infrastructure and pharmaceutical manufacturing along the HSR.