Europe CommitteeCommittee Activities

Davide De Rosa and Elena Martinez

Salud with Our Spanish Friends

Cava, Rioja, Estrella Damm, tapas and our Spanish friends helped to transport us to Spain for an hour or two last night at our joint happy hour with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce. Davide De Rosa, Chairman of HKGCC’s Europe Committee and Elena Martinez, Vice President of the Spanish Chamber, were the official hosts of the event and toasted to continued cooperation in the coming months. Keep an eye on the Chamber’s website for our next happy hour. Salud!

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Aleksander Dańda, Consul General of Poland at HKGCC

Telling Poland’s Success Stories

Aleksander Dańda, Consul General of Poland, and Blanka Gołębiowska, Consul (Trade Commissioner), called on the Chamber on 27 October to discuss ways to increase bilateral trade and exchanges. Dańda pointed out that China’s story of having the strongest GDP growth for decades is well known, yet very few people are aware that Poland ranks second in the world behind only Mainland China. Increasing awareness and understanding of Poland and telling its success stories in Hong Kong is a key goal going forward for the Consulate, as well as promoting the HKSAR to Polish businesses. 

Chamber CEO George Leung, Europe Committee Chairman Davide De Rosa, and Vice Chairmen Alfonso Ballesteros, and C K Lee shared their ideas on ways to expand business and cultural awareness among companies and the public in Hong Kong. 

Carmelo Ficarra, Antonietta Cornacchia, Gioia Gatti, George Leung, Davide De Rosa, Alfonso Ballesteros and Malcolm Ainsworth

Exploring Hong Kong-Italy Collaboration

Carmelo Ficarra, Consul General of Italy in Hong Kong, and his colleagues Deputy Consul General Antonietta Cornacchia and Trade Commissioner Gioia Gatti visited the Chamber on 13 October, where they were welcomed by the Chamber’s CEO George Leung, Europe Committee Chairman Davide De Rosa, Europe Committee Vice Chairman Alfonso Ballesteros and PR & Programs Director Malcolm Ainsworth. 

Ficarra, who assumed the role in September 2022, said he hopes to promote more businesses opportunities in Hong Kong and attract investors to Italy. As part of this, the Consulate would hire more staff, which also demonstrates their commitment to the city.

Gatti recommended that Hong Kong businesses attend tradeshows in Italy to generate more leads and learn more about trading the business environment. Both sides agreed to further explore ways to help members connect and develop business with Italy and Italian firms on the back of the successful business matching collaboration in March this year.

Lucille Merks, Deputy Consul General of the Netherlands

Connecting Hong Kong and Dutch Businesses

Lucille Merks, Deputy Consul General of the Netherlands in Hong Kong SAR and Macao, Senior Commercial Officer Betty Liu and Economic Officer Polyee Tang, visited the Chamber on 30 September, where they were welcomed by Chamber CEO George Leung and PR & Programs Director Malcolm Ainsworth.

Merks, who took up the position in August 2022, said she hopes to cooperate with the Chamber to help Dutch companies connect with both Hong Kong and Mainland businesses to explore new opportunities. Green technologies, innovation, fin-tech as well as art and design were some of the industries in which the Netherlands excels.

She also proposed helping members to get ready for a new EU supply chain law. The draft European Supply Chain Act requires EU companies to audit their suppliers along the entire global supply chain, including all direct and indirect business relationships. Leung agreed it was important to inform businesses early so that they can understand and prepare for the law. The Chamber will be organizing talks on the law, which is part of the EU’s sustainable economy plans.

Consulate representatives from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, Anna Dupalová, Krisztina Dóra Koletár, and Blanka Gołębiowska with HKGCC Europe committee vice chairman Wilhelm Brauner and CK Lee

Central Europe's Economic Dynamos

The Europe Committee hosted speakers from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland on 30 September. Among the topics discussed at the seminar were the growth of manufacturing industries in Europe, the business potential the three countries could generate for Hong Kong, and the challenges their respective economies face. 

Anna Dupalová, Head of Economic and Commercial Section, Consulate General of the Czech Republic, explained that the Czech Republic is the second-most industrialized country in the European Union, with more than half of its industrial products lined up for export. She also noted that the country is a pioneer in plastic recycling in Europe and places a strong emphasis on renewable energy sources including biomass, wind and photovoltaics.

Krisztina Dóra Koletár, Trade Commissioner, Consulate General of Hungary, said the country is an open and growing economy, with GDP growth of 7.1% in 2021. This year, Hungary’s economy grew by 8.2% in Q1 and 6.5% in Q2 respectively. She added that the country has a strong automotive ecosystem and is poised to become a "superpower" in the production of EV batteries.

Blanka Gołębiowska, Consul and Trade Commissioner, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland, pointed out that Poland has reported among the lowest decline in project numbers since the start of the pandemic. She noted that the country -­- which serves as the centre point of the main European transport corridors -- counts processed meat products and pork casings among its main exports to Hong Kong.

Walter van Hattum, from the European Union Office in Hong Kong

Business Confidence in Europe

Walter van Hattum, from the European Union Office in Hong Kong, gave members an interesting update into how Europe’s economy is recovering now that most countries have put the pandemic behind them. Speaking at the Europe Committee meeting on 20 September, he also touched on the challenges brought about by the war in Ukraine. He said inflation was rising before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but soaring energy prices exacerbated the rise, along with a tight labour market and other factors. However, the economic sentiment indicator (ESI) fell to 97.6 in August, as companies grapple with inflation, a strong US dollar, and the tail end of the pandemic. He said these are not unique to Europe, and remains confident that the Euro area will get through these challenges, with growth expected to be 2.6% for 2022. 


Joint Happy Hour with European Chamber of Commerce

Members from HKGCC and the European Chamber of Commerce had a fabulous evening at our first Happy Hour of the year. Europe Committee Chairman Davide De Rosa and European Chamber of Commerce Board Member Stratos Pourzitakis were the official host on 7 July.

Both chambers members had a wonderful networking evening with drinks and canapes. 


Exclusive Guided Tour at Recovery, Resilience, Resurgence Thirty Years of Hong Kong Photographs, 1940s – 1970s

Thank you to Edward Stokes, well known photographer and founder of The Photographic Heritage Foundation, for giving us a guided tour of a fascinating exhibition of photos showing Hong Kong’s Recovery, Resilience and Resurgence from the 1940s to ‘70s, at the Asia Society.

We saw life in Hong Kong through the eyes of three pioneering photographers -- Hedda Morrison, Lee Fook Chee, and Brian Brake. The photographs they took show Hong Kong during some very challenging times for the city as well as the true-grit spirit of its people which shaped Hong Kong’s world-renowned entrepreneurial and can-do spirit. Do to huge interest, the exhibition has been extended until 30 September. More details here

Massimo Sterpi and Alessandro Gai, both Partners at Italian law firm Gianni & Origoni spoke at the Europe Committee Meeting on 23 June.

NTFs in the E.U.

NFTs – or non-fungible tokens – have been a hot topic in the past year as the market value of these digital assets has rocketed, while many brands and businesses are also entering the NFT space. To help members of the Europe Committee understand the NFT phenomenon, particularly within the E.U., two experts in art law spoke at the Europe Committee Meeting on 23 June. 

Massimo Sterpi and Alessandro Gai, both Partners at Italian law firm Gianni & Origoni, introduced NFTs, and shared their insights on the rise of the digital art economy, how it has moved into the mainstream business world, and some of the legal implications for businesses. Gai gave a general overview of the current trends in the NFT market, while Sterpi explained the latest development in crypto assets and related E.U. regulations.

At the same meeting, Davide De Rosa was re-elected as the Chairman, while Alfonso Ballesteros, Wilhelm Brauner and CK Lee were re-elected as Vice Chairmen.


France’s Economic Reforms Reaping Rewards

The French economy has bounced back after the pandemic, partly due to the structural reforms the country has carried out over the last decade. At our webinar yesterday, Oliver Vigna from Paris Europlace and Francois Haas from Banque de Paris explained how the reforms had increased business efficiency and lowered corporate tax rates. Inflation has not risen as sharply in France as in other E.U. countries, thanks to a tariff shield which is protecting consumer spending, and strong household savings.

The economy does faces some challenges. Significant government debt dating back to the Global Financial Crisis remains a burden, and many businesses are struggling to find qualified manpower due to low unemployment. Going forward, they said the French economy is fast pivoting towards digitalization and sustainability, while continuing to pursue structural reforms.

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