Belt & Road Series Events

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Date Events

Meeting with Dr Witman Hung Belt and Road General Chamber of Commerce

Dr Witman Hung, Vice Chairman of Professional Committee on Innovative Technology at the Belt and Road General Chamber of Commerce (BRGCC), visited the Chamber on 14 July accompanied by his team to introduce BRGCC’s "Belt and Road Projects Database Service Platform." They were welcomed by Chamber CEO George Leung and Belt and Road Working Group Convenor Andrew Wells. Dr Hung explained that the platform was supported by the State Information Center and aimed to provide a one-stop-shop for BRI project intelligence and business matching. The two sides discussed potential collaboration and how to help businesses take advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative.

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BRI Working Group Meeting

Nicholas Ho, Deputy Managing Director of hpa, shared his experience working on projects along the Belt and Road at the Chamber’s Belt and Road Working Group meeting on 19 June. He said the Belt and Road Initiative provided a framework to encourage foreign direct investment to less developed countries, and had generally improved physical, cultural, digital and technology connectivity among participating countries. He added that members interested in doing business in South East Asia should study the market extensively and evaluate potential risks. With a population of around 600 million people, the South East Asia market is heavily fragmented by political systems and cycles, and languages and cultures.

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Krisztina Dóra Koletár, Trade Commissioner from the Consulate General of Hungary in Hong Kong

Looking Past the Crises: Europe, Hong Kong and the Belt and Road

Europe has been at the heart of the Mainland’s Belt and Road Initiative ever since its inception. Despite the pandemic putting some plans on hold, EU-BRI cooperation continues to flourish. Iris Pang, Chief Economist for Greater China from ING Wholesale Banking, spoke at the Chamber’s webinar organized by the Belt and Road Working Group on 19 June. She said that investments into the BRI were predominantly in the transport and logistics sector. Europe benefited from the BRI though enhanced infrastructure, access to financing and strategic partnerships for trading with China.

Also speaking at the webinar, Krisztina Dóra Koletár, Trade Commissioner from the Consulate General of Hungary in Hong Kong, gave a brief background of Hungary and its role in the BRI, as well as how Hong Kong businesses should take advantage of the BRI to connect with Hungary.

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Experts share their insights on the likely BRI trends after the coronavirus crisis recedes

Sustainability on the Belt and Road after Covid-19

Sustainability has become increasingly important in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and this trend is set to continue after the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s according to the BRI Beyond 2020 report compiled by the Economist Corporate Network on behalf of Baker & McKenzie. At a webinar on 19 May, Bee Chun Boo and Simon Leung, both Partners at the law firm, shared the report findings and their insights on financing trends with the Initiative. They were joined by fellow partners Martin David and Mini vandePol, who spoke respectively on the sustainability and compliance aspects of BRI projects.

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Looking Past the Crises: Financial Services in Hong Kong and the Role of the Belt and Road

At the Belt and Road Working Group’s webinar today, board members of the Financial Services Development Council shared their views on the current challenges and opportunities in the asset management, banking, and insurance sectors.

Chen Ding, CEO of CSOP Asset Management, said despite the pandemic, investment in Belt and Road-related projects has been increasing, up 17% year-on-year. Newly signed big projects over US$50 million increased by 25% yoy. Brian Li, Co-Chief Executive of Bank of East Asia, said that Hong Kong’s robust banking system means that banks have considerable liquidity to tackle current challenges, and together with the Government, they had been providing financial support to businesses in Hong Kong, in particular SMEs. Winnie Wong, CEO & Executive Director of Asia Insurance & Avo Insurance, said that insurers in Hong Kong provided relief measures ranging from simplified claim procedures and waivers of late charges to extended grace periods and complimentary COVID-19 coverage.

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The Third Belt and Road Working Group Meeting

Meeting of the Belt and Road Working Group

Jonathan McKinley, Former Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs, spoke on “Tourism on the Modern Silk Road” at a meeting of the Chamber’s Belt and Road Working Group on 6 September.

He introduced his travels on the Silk Road route from China to Central Asia, including his experience of inter-city and inter-country trains, cultural exchanges with local people, and some of the tourist spots he visited. He noted that people in the Central Asia countries are well-educated and have good language skills, and are enthusiastic about Hong Kong. However, they do not have much understanding of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Andrew Wells, Convenor of the Belt and Road Working Group, added that promotion of the Belt and Road to foreign countries will be a very important factor in the success of the initiative.

Also at the meeting, Petrina Tam, Chairman of the Chamber’s China Committee, shared her thoughts on how the professional services sector in Hong Kong could capitalize on the opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative, using a professional accountant as an example. Tam is also Southern China Domestic Markets Leader at PwC Hong Kong.

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New Commissioner for Belt and Road

New Commissioner for Belt and Road

Denis Yip Shing-fai, newly appointed Commissioner for Belt and Road, visited the Chamber on 13 August where Chamber Chairman Aron Harilela, CEO Shirley Yuen and Deputy CEO Watson Chan discussed the BRI and initiatives that the Government has been doing to assist local companies to “go outside” under BRI, such as Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales, and SME Export Marketing Fund. To better achieve the goal of “going out,” both sides discussed regions and sectors that Government policies could focus on in future. Both sides agreed that closer cooperation between the Government and the business sector is a good way to foster development of BRI.

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Li Zhonghan, General Manager of the company’s department for overseas business and international cooperation

Invest in the Silk Road

The China Merchants Group has overseas assets in more than 40 countries worth 720 billion RMB, including major investments in nations along the Belt and Road. At a roundtable luncheon on 28 March, Li Zhonghan, General Manager of the company’s department for overseas business and international cooperation, discussed some of these projects – including a port in Djibouti and the China-Belarus Industrial Park -- to give members an insight into the advantages and challenges of Belt and Road investment.

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Belt and Road Working Group Meeting with Paul McComb

Belt & Road Working Group Meeting

At a meeting of the Chamber’s Belt and Road Working Group on 5 March, Paul McComb, Director General for Trade and Investment at the British Consulate General in Hong Kong, introduced the U.K.’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative. This includes a contribution of US$50 million to the Project Preparation Special Fund of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and a programme of unconditional guaranteed bank loans provided by U.K. Export Finance. Andrew Wells, Convenor of the Working Group, and members continued the discussion informally at a networking session following the meeting.

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Practical implications of the Belt and Road for SMEs at HKGCC

Practical implications of the Belt and Road for Hong Kong's SMEs: Risk and Dispute Resolution

Members of the Chamber’s Belt & Road Working Group discussed the practical implications of the initiative for SMEs in terms of risk and dispute resolution at a meeting on 11 December. Behzad Mirzaei, Partner of Basio Consultants & Services, shared his expertise, including doing business in the Middle East  John Yeap, Partner at Pinsent Masons, introduced the typical risks associated with BR projects regarding utility ownership, labour, language and currency. Maria Tan Pedersen, Partner at Jones Day, said investors should fully understand their role and the type of project they are participating in before going ahead with any agreement. Sarah Grimmer, Secretary-General of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, explained some of the approaches to resolving disputes involving BR projects.

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