Nick Heath, recently appointed Director-General of Trade and Investment at the Department for International Trade of the British Consulate-General Hong Kong, and his colleague Corin Wilson, Director of Trade and Investment Hong Kong and Macao, visited the Chamber on 20 August. Chamber CEO George Leung, Europe Committee Chairman Davide De Rosa, and Director for PR & Programs Malcolm Ainsworth welcomed the guests and discussed a broad range of topics with them, including the progress of vaccinations, sustainability issues, and the opportunities in the Greater Bay Area.
Heath said that there is growing interest in sustainability and environmental concerns, adding that the British experience in green policies and initiatives, such as carbon strategy, could be helpful for Hong Kong. He also said that his department was active in promoting sectors such as e-commerce, finance and medtech in the region, which have been given a boost by the pandemic.
The two sides also discussed opportunities to increase cooperation between Hong Kong and British businesses, in particular in green and new technology areas.
The European Union will decide this summer whether to launch a digital euro as part of its digitalisation strategy. At the Chamber’s webinar on 29 June, a panel of experts -- speaking from Hong Kong, London and Amsterdam -- shared their insights on the risks and opportunities of the proposed project.
Walter van Hattum, Head of Trade Section E.U. Office to Hong Kong and Macao, discussed how potential risks could be mitigated by strict rules on digital operational resilience. He also explained the E.U.’s ambition to be a global standard setter by outlining clear and comprehensive rules for crypto assets.
He was joined by Marion Laboure, Macro Strategist, Thematic Research at Deutsche Bank London. She briefed participants on how a digital euro could promote financial inclusion and enhance the euro’s international currency status. She also discussed some of the challenges, such as immature technology. Laboure said that she expected it would take around five years to prepare to launch a digital euro, if the European Central Bank decides to go ahead with the project.
Rene van Vlerken, Head of Listing, Managing Board, Euronext Amsterdam, noted that interest in crypto and other digital assets is expected to increase with rising institutional demand. He also discussed the potential of blockchain to manage digital assets.
Jimmy Chiang, Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion at InvestHK, spoke at the Europe’s Committee’s meeting on 24 June. He discussed what business opportunities were expected to arise from the development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) for European businesses in the financial services sector, as the GBA’s middle-class population is set to grow from the current 300 million currently to 660 million in 2025.
He also discussed efforts to expand mutual recognition of qualifications in legal, architecture and engineering to help these sectors grow, and how InvestHK, including a new dedicated GBA Business Development Team, can assist companies.
At the same meeting, Davide De Rosa was elected as the new Chairman, while Alfonso Ballesteros, Wilhelm Brauner were reelected as Vice Chairmen and CK Lee was elected as a new Vice Chairman. Committee members thanked outgoing Chairman Jennifer Chan for doing an outstanding job in chairing the committee over the past three years.
Europe Committee Members visited “Duet: Wabi-Sabi & Bloom,” an exhibition of photography and ceramics, at the Amanda Wei Gallery on 22 June. Hosted by Dutch visual artist Marcel Heijnen and Hong Kong ceramicist Terence Lee, the tour gave members the opportunity to speak to the artists about their work, which explores the elegant Zen aesthetic of "Wabi-Sabi" in urban landscapes and daily objects, as well as the vitality underneath the surface of rough and shrivelled forms.
Britain’s exit from the E.U. means changes to tax and customs procedures for companies doing business there. Thanks to Nick Heath from the British Consulate-General Hong Kong, Andrew Weir from KPMG and Mark Slade from DHL Global Forwarding for discussing what Brexit means for businesses at our webinar on 6 May. The shared their insights in areas including compliance, audit risk and budget planning, as well as the impact on ecommerce firms and Hong Kong exporters who use Britain as a gateway to the E.U.
Spain is renowned for its food and wine, but the Spanish food and beverage industry is also acting to make Spain a FoodTech nation, with innovative products available for export including plant-based meat and ready-to-eat packaged versions of its traditional products. The ICEX (Spain’s investment agency) has also launched a programme to certify authentic Spanish restaurants around the world, which Hong Kong will join this year. Spanish interior design is another area of interest to Hong Kong importers, and high-quality furniture, lighting and home textiles are among the Spanish products already available in the city.
At the Europe Committee’s Country Briefing on Spain on 30 March, the Spanish Trade Commission in Hong Kong, together with a number of Spanish companies, introduced some of the opportunities in these exciting areas for Hong Kong businesses.
Special thanks to the Trade Commission of Spain in Hong Kong & Macau, and Consulate General of Spain for organizing the event and also to the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Cámara de Comercio de España in Madrid for supporting the talk.
Walter van Hattum, recently appointed Head of Trade of the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao, visited the Chamber on 10 March with colleagues Sami Al Daghistani, and Weng Lam Chu, where they were welcomed by Chamber CEO George Leung, General Committee Member and Europe Committee Chairman Jennifer Chan, and PR & Programs Director Malcolm Ainsworth.
Van Hattum introduced the latest trade developments concerning the European Union (E.U.) and its trading partners, and discussed the bloc’s economic and e-commerce policies. The E.U. is currently reviewing its trade policy, van Hattum said, in order to address issues arising from the Coronavirus pandemic, but expects it will still be the most open trade bloc in the world.
The two sides also discussed possible impacts on Hong Kong businesses brought by the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment reached in principle by Mainland China and the E.U. last December after seven years of negotiations.
Paul McComb, Director-General of Trade and Investment at the Department for International Trade of the British Consulate-General Hong Kong, discussed the latest developments in the U.K.’s global relations at a webinar on 4 February. He updated members that the U.K. had exited smoothly from the European Union and the British Government was working to develop constructive and reciprocal relationships with countries around the globe by transitioning or improving the trade deals with nations both inside and outside the E.U.
In the short term, he foresees that businesses trading with the U.K. will have to deal with additional paperwork and customs requirements, but they should be able to quickly adapt to the new processes. McComb said he anticipated the investment appetite towards the U.K. would remain keen after Brexit, owing to the country’s resilience and language advantage. In the long run, the U.K. Government plans to unveil 10 free ports across the nation, which are expected to boost the post-Brexit economy and facilitate international trading.
This event was the first in the Chamber’s “Brexit in Reality” series of events. Check our What’s On page for more information on upcoming events.
David Costello, Consul General of Ireland, met with the Chamber’s CEO George Leung, and Europe Committee Chairman Jennifer Chan on 13 January to introduce an exciting project he is working on to highlight the strong historical ties between Ireland and Hong Kong. Interestingly, the Chamber’s first Chairman Alexander Perceval, and first LegCo Representative Thomas Jackson, were both born in Ireland. During the meeting they also discussed the development of Hong Kong and Ireland’s business and financial services and possible synergies.