The 10th Asian Financial Forum (AFF), jointly organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), will be held on 16 and 17 January at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). Financial experts and business leaders from around the world will share insights on the global economy and the latest market opportunities at the forum, which will kick off a series of events marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR. The success of the AFF over the past decade has helped to cement Hong Kong’s position as an international financial and investment centre in Asia.
– Helen Wong: Economy must change, innovate and connect
“This edition of the AFF is themed ‘Asia: Driving Change, Innovation and Connectivity’. Recent economic and political events such as US president-elect Donald Trump’s election victory, Brexit and the Italian constitutional referendum have added uncertainties to the global economy and investment market,” said Helen Wong, Chairperson, AFF Steering Committee; Chief Executive, Greater China, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. “Although the Asian market is relatively stable at the moment and can drive global economic growth, it has to face challenges such as the deceleration of the Chinese mainland economy and capital moving out of emerging markets. In order to seek growth and profits in this environment, changes, innovations and connectivity are needed to drive the economy forward and bring about sustainable economic growth.”
Raymond Yip, Deputy Executive Director, HKTDC, noted that the AFF is held annually in January to help the financial sector find inspiration for business and investment strategies for the year ahead, through insights shared by finance officials, economists and business leaders from around the world. “During the preparation of the forum this year, we have, under the advice of the Steering Committee, drafted topics and invited speakers relevant to the market changes and new issues facing the finance sector, including new circumstances presented by the US presidential transition, prospects for the EU, infrastructure financing as well as the influence of technological advances on the financial industry. These will all be covered in various sessions of the AFF by top-notch speakers,” Mr Yip said.
– Mohamed A El-Erian: Economy in 2017 will come close to an inflection point
AFF keynote luncheon speakers are always industry heavyweights who will make an impact, and the 10th edition is no exception. The first-day keynote luncheon speaker will be Mohamed A El-Erian, Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz and Chair of President Obama’s Global Development Council. With the US presidential transition and change in economic policies in the spotlight, he will analyse the effect of the current political and economic situation on the market, as well as investment risks and opportunities in the coming year.
Mr El-Erian is widely acclaimed for his views on economic and market development. He was recognised by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the “100 Leading Global Thinkers” for four consecutive years. His books, When Markets Collide and The Only Game in Town, have been award-winning bestsellers. LinkedIn named him as the top “Must Know Influencer.” Looking to 2017, Mr El-Erian sees “the global economy get closer to an inflection point – one that sees greater uncertainty about its ability to sustain low and stable growth, coupled with repressed financial stability; and one that sees it get a lot closer to a tipping point that either leads to higher growth and genuine financial stability, or one that is characterised by periodic recessions and unsettling financial instability.” He also told the HKTDC in an interview that “The deciding factor will be the extent to which politicians in the advanced world are able to deliver a much needed policy pivot: from excessive reliance on central banks’ unconventional measures and towards a more comprehensive policy response that engages the full range of economic tools to deal with the structural and cyclical headwinds facing high inclusive growth and genuine financial stability.”
– Raghuram Rajan: Hong Kong can be a “super-connector”
Dr Raghuram Rajan, who stepped down as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India in September, had a major part to play in India’s sustained high level of economic growth of recent years. During his term of office, he helped stabilise the exchange rate of the rupee, curb inflation, lower interest rates, and instigate a restructuring of the Reserve Bank of India. All of this was welcomed by the market. He was conferred the Best Central Bank Governor award by Euromoney Magazine in 2014 and the Governor of the Year Award by the financial journal Central Banking, earning him the reputation as a “rock star” bank governor. He returned to academia after serving as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, and is now Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the Booth School at the University of Chicago. He will give a keynote luncheon speech on the second day of the AFF.
Recently, Dr Rajan spoke about the transition of the US administration as well as the role of Hong Kong in global finance during an interview with the HKTDC. He said he hopes an immediate trade war with the Chinese mainland or Mexico does not materialise, and the Trump administration settles for more measured steps on carrying out its election promises. “We are likely to have a more inwardly-focused US, which gives more space to some other countries, especially China, to play a leadership role,” he said. And as the mainland is moving towards a service-oriented economy, Dr Rajan agrees that Hong Kong can play the role of a “super-connector” by offering world-class legal, arbitration and financial services, trained talents, and soft infrastructure to meet the needs of mainland companies.
– Global financial leaders to gather in Hong Kong
Besides the two keynote luncheons, other speakers at AFF are also influential figures in the financial sector. Various panel discussions will examine the global economy, China opportunities, prospects for ASEAN as well as payment technology and cyber security, while a plethora of thematic workshops will explore issues such as Fintech, insurance, green finance and big data.
Mirza Adityaswara, Senior Deputy Governor, Bank Indonesia
Raymond L Conner, Vice Chairman, The Boeing Company
Ding Xuedong, Chairman & CEO, China Investment Corporation (Invited)
Sung-Soo Eun, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, Korea Investment Corporation
Ning Gaoning, Chairman, Sinochem Group (Invited)
Klaus Regling, Managing Director, European Stability Mechanism
Norihiro Takahashi, President, Government Pension Investment Fund, Japan
Chairul Tanjung, Founder and Chairman, CT Corp
Mihaly Varga, Minister for National Economy, Hungary
Wang Hongzhang, Chairman and Executive Director, China Construction Bank Corporation
Ksenia Yudaeva, First Deputy Governor, Bank of Russia
Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ayala Corporation
– Opportunities abound at Global Investment Summit and AFF Deal Flow
The Global Investment Summit launched at AFF 2016 will return this year to focus on the ASEAN and Middle East markets. Representatives from Asian Development Bank, China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund, investment banks, rating agencies as well as bankers will explore investment opportunities in these two emerging markets from a variety of angles.
The AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking Session, co-organised by the HKTDC and the Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association for the ninth consecutive year, will provide a platform for business discussions between capital-seeking companies and project owners, private equity firms, enterprise investors, intermediaries and professional services providers. Roundtable Networking, Project Presentations as well as the Financial and Professional Advisory Services Zone will also be organised for industry experts to share the latest industry trends, market intelligence, and exchange business suggestions with participants.
– IFFO presents insights on infrastructure financing
Increasing global attention is focusing on the vast opportunities in infrastructure development and their related financing activities, which have been given further impetus by the Belt and Road Initiative. Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (IFFO) will organise a workshop on Day Two morning, inviting senior industry leaders to discuss the opportunities and challenges of infrastructure financing in Asia, as well as Hong Kong’s role in these developments. Besides, IFFO will organise a promotion event for speakers from investment promotion agencies of emerging economies to elaborate on the investment environment and upcoming opportunities in infrastructure financing. After the AFF, IFFO will organise a workshop on Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership Projects.