Entering its 10th edition, the Asian Financial Forum (AFF), co-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). Under the theme of “Asia: Driving Change, Innovation and Connectivity”, the forum will be the first in a series of events marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR. Some 2,800 financial and business leaders, policymakers, investors and high net-worth individuals from around the world are expected to participate.
Speaking at today’s press conference, Helen Wong, Chairperson of the AFF Steering Committee and Group General Manager and Chief Executive, Greater China, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited said: “Over the last decade, Hong Kong has made remarkable progress to strengthen its leading position as an international financial centre. In a rapidly evolving economic environment, Hong Kong must stay competitive in order to achieve sustainable growth. Not only should the city remain outward looking, but it should also embrace innovation and reinforce connectivity with other regions.”
HKTDC Acting Executive Director Raymond Yip said: “This year’s AFF will not only explore long-standing issues related to policy trends and development in the global economy, China opportunities, and ASEAN investment prospects, it will also discuss emerging industry-specific issues including payment technology and cyber security, insurance and innovation, green finance, infrastructure financing and the Belt and Road Initiative. We hope that the participants can gain insights on global economic trends as well as the latest development in various financial sectors.”
Mohamed A El-Erian and Raghuram Rajan to analyse the new economic landscape
Keynote luncheons featuring world-renowned speakers have always been a highlight of the AFF. This year, Dr Mohamed A El-Erian, Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz and Chair of US President Barack Obama’s Global Development Council will be the keynote luncheon speaker on 16 January, where he will analyse the impact of the current political and economic situation on global markets, as well as investment risks and opportunities in the coming year. He will also take part in a separate dialogue later in the day for more in-depth exchanges with AFF participants on a variety of topical issues. The keynote luncheon speaker on 17 January will be Dr Raghuram Rajan, Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago the Booth School and previously the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Dr Rajan will share his insights on how central banks around the world formulate monetary policies in response to the new economic trends as well as how investors can navigate the evolving policy landscape, particularly in emerging markets.
Global policymakers to discuss incentives and regulatory measures
The challenges facing the global economy have highlighted the importance of effective and sustainable fiscal and monetary policy. The Plenary Session of AFF 2017, chaired by Prof KC Chan, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the HKSAR Government, and joined by Mihaly Varga, Minister for National Economy of Hungary, Simon Kirby, Economic Secretary to the Treasury (City Minister), United Kingdom, Mohammad Khazaee, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance of Iran and President of the Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran (OIETAI) and Kiatchai Sophastienphong, Vice Minister for Finance, Thailand, will explore Asia’s prospects as well as the implications for sustainable global economic development.
In the Policy Dialogue session, Panel Chair Ashley Ian Alder, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission, along with Klaus Regling, Managing Director, European Stability Mechanism, Saeb Eigner, Chairman, Dubai Financial Services Authority, Andrea Enria, Chairperson, European Banking Authority, Mirza Adityaswara, Senior Deputy Governor, Bank Indonesia, Ksenia Yudaeva, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia, and Jeong Eun-bo, Vice Chairman of Financial Services Commission, Korea, will discuss how policymakers and regulators can continue to facilitate sustainable economic growth in evolving markets while maintaining financial stability and discipline.
Financial and business leaders to share market insights
Panel discussions on a number of hot-button issues for the financial and investment community, such as the global economy, prospects for ASEAN, China opportunities and payment technology and cyber security, will also be arranged. Speakers in the Panel Discussion on Global Economy include Raymond L Conner, Vice Chairman, The Boeing Company, Ding Xuedong, Chairman & CEO, China Investment Corporation, Sung-Soo Eun, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, Korea Investment Corporation, and Christian Noyer, Honorary Governor, Banque de France. They will share their views on various global economic and investment prospects. A separate dialogue will be arranged for Norihiro Takahashi, President, Government Pension Investment Fund, Japan (GPIF), to share insights into GPIF’s evolving investment strategies and its view of the Japan market and beyond.
Exploring opportunities in Fintech, green finance and the Belt and Road
The Chinese mainland continues to be one of the fastest-growing major economies, providing ample opportunity for investors from around the world. In the Panel Discussion on China Opportunities, Raymund Chao, Greater China Chairman, PwC, Lai Xiaomin, Chairman, China Huarong Asset Management Co. Ltd, Ning Gaoning, Chairman, Sinochem Group, and Wang Hongzhang, Chairman and Executive Director, China Construction Bank Corporation, will examine the outlook for the Chinese mainland economy, and identify new priority sectors with the greatest potential.
ASEAN also remains a region of great interest to the global financial and business communities. Chairul Tanjung, Founder and Chairman, CT Corp and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ayala Corporation will join other experts to examine how this integrated regional market can navigate challenges to usher a new wave of trade and investment opportunities.
Sponsored by Hong Kong Financial Services Development Council, the Breakfast Panel on 17 January will analyse Hong Kong’s position in the New World Order. During the session, Prof Frederick Ma, Chairman, MTR Corporation Ltd, will discuss Hong Kong’s role in the Belt and Road Initiative; Tim Freshwater, Chairman, Goldman Sachs Asia Bank Ltd, will share his views on how Hong Kong can develop into a regional hub for green finance; and Lei Zhang, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Hillhouse Capital Management Group, will explain how Hong Kong can seize opportunities related to rise of Fintech.
A series of thematic workshops will also be organised to examine key topics including green finance, China-India economic partnership, private wealth management, and innovation in the insurance industry.
Illustration of infrastructure financing prospects by IFFO
Global attention is focusing on infrastructure investment and financing, with further impetus given by the Belt and Road Initiative. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (IFFO) will organise a workshop on Day Two morning, inviting leaders from Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, CLP Group, HSBC, Macquarie Group, etc. to discuss the opportunities and challenges and Hong Kong’s roles in infrastructure financing in Asia. IFFO will organise an event for representatives of emerging economies such as Bangladesh, Hungary, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkey to promote their investment environment and infrastructure financing opportunities.
Investment and networking opportunities abound at the AFF
The Global Investment Summit will return with a keynote address by International Monetary Fund Deputy Managing Director Tao Zhang on the global investment outlook, followed by panel sessions involving representatives from Asian Development Bank, China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund, investment banks and credit rating agencies to explore investment trends and opportunities in ASEAN and the Middle East. AFF participants can also explore worldwide investment opportunities and projects at the Global Investment Zone through 13 participating investment agencies from countries such as Germany, Iran, Israel, Poland, South Africa, the US and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, following last year’s successful arrangement of more than 570 meetings involving 290 investment projects from 25 countries and regions, the AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking Session, co-organised by the HKTDC and the Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, will feature pre-arranged deal sourcing and matchmaking meetings for project owners, private equity firms, investors, high net-worth individuals, intermediaries and professional services providers. Industry briefings, networking opportunities and project presentations focusing on food and agriculture, Fintech, cleantech & manufacturing technology and infrastructure investment will also be organised, while representatives from financial institutions, accounting firms, as well as legal and commercial consultants will be on hand to provide free consultation services at the Financial and Professional Advisory Services Zone.
Promoting Hong Kong’s financial services
The AFF is the flagship event of the International Financial Week, a comprehensive programme of activities designed to facilitate greater exchange of ideas and business opportunities among global finance and business professionals. Opening on 16 January, a series of events will be held to showcase Hong Kong’s competitive edge in financial services, covering such topical themes as cross-border market access, private equity and alternative investment.