The 17th Hong Kong Forum, co-organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and the Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations Worldwide (FHKBAW), opened today at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Nearly 400 business leaders from 28 countries and regions are attending the event to explore business opportunities in Asia. Key topics featured at this year’s forum include the Belt and Road Initiative, innovation and technology, big data and start-ups.
Joining the Hong Kong Forum for the first time are representatives from the Hong Kong Business Association of Cambodia, which is the newest member of the FHKBAW. Other participants include those from the Chinese mainland, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Latvia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
Finding opportunities amid adversity
Speaking at the Hong Kong Forum this morning, Margaret Fong, Executive Director, HKTDC, noted the global economy had been affected by a number of unexpected outcomes over the past year, including the UK’s Brexit referendum and the US presidential election. She said the political changes have inevitably created concern around the world.
“It is true that Hong Kong is not immune to the wave of uncertainty that has been sweeping across many parts of the world. After all, we are a global city,” said Ms Fong. “But I would like to assure you that our city is ready to ride out this wave, just as we had done many times in the past – from the Asian economic crisis in the 90’s to SARS in 2003, to the global financial crisis whose aftermath is still felt today.”
Ms Fong pointed out that, as a leading international hub for finance, trade and professional services, Hong Kong will be able to capitalise on the opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative. “Spanning 60-plus countries from Asia to Europe and Africa, the Belt and Road aims to integrate economic and social activity among these countries through infrastructure and connectivity.”
She added that, with the HKTDC celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, the Council would continue to promote Hong Kong’s external trade, and she encouraged the younger generation to embrace the city’s renowned entrepreneurial spirit to capture future business opportunities.
Hong Kong: Platform for Belt and Road opportunities
The first seminar this morning spotlighted the business opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative. Speakers included Keith Griffiths, Chairman, Aedas; Peter Burnett, Regional Head, Corporate Finance, Greater China & North Asia, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited; and Elaine Lo, Partner, Head of China Practice, Mayer Brown JSM. They examined ways that companies could leverage Hong Kong’s professional services to capture Belt and Road opportunities, and how local firms could build closer relationships with regional players to seize new development opportunities amid new dynamics in the world economy. Peter Burnett pointed out that the Chinese mainland market is developing rapidly including through the internationalisation of the renminbi, mainland Free Trade Zones and the Belt and Road Initiative, all of which are opening up China-related opportunities for the global financial market. “These economic initiatives have all pointed the direction of the capital in China outwards. In this context, Hong Kong is playing a pivotal role in connecting worldwide enterprises to China.” Elaine Lo said that Hong Kong’s common law legal system lends itself well to multi-juridical practice, in particular many Belt and Road countries adopt the common law system as well, making Hong Kong the best partner for international firms to tap into the Belt and Road markets.
Opportunities in innovation and technology
Innovation and technology has become an integral part of corporate strategies to upgrade business operations. Aerial photography, social media, mobile apps and other emerging technologies have brought new business opportunities to different industries. At the second seminar, Phil Yuen, CTO & Head of Special Projects, Tink Labs; Christina Zhang, Director of Corporate Strategy, Da-Jiang Innovations Science and Technology Co., Ltd.; and Rex Sham, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer, Insight Robotics Limited, discussed how different businesses could capitalise on innovation and technology.
Success behind the scenes
Today’s “Luncheon Dialogue with Star Behind the Scene” invited Nansun Shi, Executive Director, Film Workshop Co. Ltd. and Mark Lui, renowned composer and producer, to talk about how Hong Kong’s film industry has overcome challenges to succeed on the international stage. As a veteran film producer, Ms Shi has devoted herself to the film industry for more than 30 years, witnessing the changes in Hong Kong’s movie industry. She pointed out that the new generation of young directors have rejuvenated filmmaking in Hong Kong. “Hong Kong’s film industry isn’t dead as you can see many local films and directors have gained awards at the recent Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival.” Referencing the enormous film market on the mainland, she advised filmmakers to feature local culture and values while catering to the tastes of mainland moviegoers. Mark Lui also pointed out that the local music industry is also facing strong competition. Nevertheless, he has tried to put a new spin on producing and performing Canto pop songs, so that Hong Kong’s unique culture can be presented in ways that will appeal to mainland audiences.
The era of big data
In the current era big data, companies can collect data from numerous channels to analyse purchasing patterns, product preferences and customer feedback, and use such information to improve operations and enhance efficiency and competitiveness. At the seminar on “The Next Era: Big Data”, Toa Charm, Chief Public Mission Office, Cyberport Hong Kong; Tony Tai, General Manager, IBM China / Hong Kong Limited; Patrik Forsstrom, Head of Business Intelligence, Cathay Pacific Airways; and Andy Ann, Founder and CEO, NDN Group (HK) Limited, spoke about the trends and applications of big data.
Cradle for start-ups
Many Hong Kong companies have successfully gone global and scaled their businesses. At tomorrow’s seminar “Through the Window of Opportunities”, Quinn Lai, Founder & Director, EONIQ (HK) Limited; Tony Verb, Managing Partner, Metta; and Katarina Ivarsson, Founder & CEO, Boris Design Studio Ltd., will share their experience of doing business in Hong Kong. They will also discuss Hong Kong’s unique business environment and how entrepreneurs could succeed in this setting.
At tomorrow’s “Luncheon Dialogue with Heirs of Centennial Enterprises”, two young “successors”: Bryant Lu, Vice-Chairman, Ronald Lu & Partners, and Karen Chan, Executive Director, German Pool Group Co Ltd., will talk about sustaining family businesses by combining the experience of past generations with the creativity and perspectives of the new generation.
Qingdao: key logistics hub
Qingdao is one of the Chinese mainland’s key logistics hubs and an important “commodity distribution centre”. The city is also a fast-growing industrial and commercial city with immense potential. Iris Wong, Director of International & Mainland Relations, HKTDC, will lead a delegation of nearly 40 business people to visit Qingdao from 1 to 3 December, to survey Qingdao’s investment environment and development prospects. Participants include representatives from chambers of commerce from Belt and Road countries as well as those from the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. Aside from meeting with senior officials in Qingdao, the delegates will also visit the CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd., Haier Group, Tsingtao Brewery Co., Ltd., Port of Qingdao and the Oriental Movie Metropolis. They will also meet with young entrepreneurs of the Qingdao Federation of Industry and Commerce and Hong Kong entrepreneurs in Qingdao, and explore cooperation opportunities between Qingdao, Hong Kong and overseas enterprises.
The two-day Hong Kong Forum (29-30 November) is a flagship event of the FHKBAW. Since its establishment in 2000, the Federation’s network has grown to comprise 41 association members representing 12,000 members around the world. New business associations joining the Federation this year include those from Cambodia as well as sub-groups from the Chinese mainland including Qingdao, Tianjin, Wuhan, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shenyang and Harbin.