“Think Asia, Think Hong Kong”, the largest Hong Kong trade promotion ever staged in Germany, concluded yesterday (29 Sept), after welcoming more than 1,500 participants to high-profile events in Dusseldorf and Frankfurt (28 Sept) and in Hamburg and Munich (29 Sept).Watch our video here: https://youtu.be/xBFEiDbgGgw
Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the flagship promotion explored the potential for closer bilateral ties in trade, finance and investment between Hong Kong and Germany. The two-day promotion included thematic seminars, on-site consultations and networking activities. More than 460 business matching meetings were arranged during “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong”.
Margaret Fong, Executive Director of the HKTDC, said: “With Hong Kong long recognised by German companies as the gateway to China, they find our city a trusted partner in helping them to expand to all of Asia. Their keen interest is reflected in the encouraging turnout and active participation in our business matching meetings. I look forward to welcoming many more German companies, big and small, to Hong Kong in the coming months.”
Speaking at the seminar in Dusseldorf, Vincent HS Lo, Chairman of the HKTDC, said, “With knowledge of international business practises and an understanding of China’s operating environment, we (Hong Kong) provide a crucial bridge when China invests overseas.”
The Hong Kong delegation was led by Carrie Lam, Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government, while guests of honour from Germany included Thomas Geisel, Mayor of Dusseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia; Dr Herbert Jakoby, Head of the Department for Foreign Trade, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry State of North Rhine-Westphalia; and Frank Horch, Senator, Minister of Economy, Transportation and Innovation of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. “Hong Kong has for a long time been a regional hub for business and a reliable partner for us here in Germany,” said Mr Horch, during the seminar in Hamburg. Mayor Geisel said Dusseldorf had been effective in attracting overseas investment, noting that the Chinese community in the city had grown in recent years to include some 5,000 Chinese residents and around 400 Chinese companies.
Tapping Chinese mainland and Asia markets through Hong Kong
Heavyweight speakers at the seminar in Dusseldorf included Hans Michael Jebsen, Chairman, Jebsen & Co Ltd; Martin Brudermuller, Vice Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors and Chief Technology Officer, BASF SE; James Thompson, Chairman, Crown Worldwide Group; Sabine Stricker-Kellerer, Senior China Counsel, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP; Royce Yuen, CEO, MaLogic Holdings Ltd; Michael Hennig, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Aumund Asia (HK) Ltd; Hans Joachim Isler, Managing Director, H.D. Isler & Co Ltd; and Thomas So, President, The Law Society of Hong Kong.
They shared their insights on Hong Kong’s advantages as a business and financial hub in Asia.
Speaking on the sidelines of the seminar, Mr Jebsen, whose company was founded as a shipping agency in Hong Kong in 1895, said, “Hong Kong has the advantage of having an established culture; a culture in the legal field, in the financial field and you have the stock exchange culture and a culture of trade and trust, and all this takes a lot of time to build.”
New areas for financial services collaboration
In Frankfurt, a seminar jointly organised with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), analysed opportunities related to offshore renminbi business and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Norman Chan, Chief Executive, HKMA, said both the internationalisation of the renminbi and the Belt and Road Initiative are important “reaching out” strategies for China. “The Belt and Road Initiative is an important part of the growth story for China because of its increasing capacity to export capital and technology,” said Mr Chan.
Benjamin Hung, Regional Chief Executive Officer, Greater China and North Asia, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd, echoed Mr Chan’s sentiment, describing the Belt and Road Initiative as “one of the largest and most exciting trading and investment corridors in the next decade.” Meanwhile, another panel speaker, Li Jiuzhong, Executive Director and Chief Risk Officer, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited, predicted that the Belt and Road strategy would “accelerate the internationalisation of the renminbi”, adding that Hong Kong would play a part in the process.
Other prominent speakers included Gerrit Schneider, Chief Financial Officer, Europe; Manager, Investor Relations, General Electric; Steve Gross, Senior Managing Director, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets; and Lutz Raettig, Vice President, Frankfurt Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
Potential for cooperation in shipping, logistics and technology
The seminar in Hamburg was jointly organised with the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce to examine ways to use Hong Kong’s logistics and maritime strengths to tap opportunities related to the Belt and Road Initiative.
Speaking at the seminar, Ms Fong, Executive Director, HKTDC said, “As one of the world’s busiest ports and a natural deep-water port, Hong Kong also offers real benefits to the shipping business. With our low taxes, a stable business environment and international experts providing professional services, the Hong Kong flag is a preferred choice for international vessel owners.”
Jens Meier, Chief Executive Officer, Hamburg Port Authority, added that, the Belt and Road Initiative also includes Hamburg and is one of several areas through which the two cities can strengthen collaboration.
In Munich, the technology-focused seminar was jointly organised between the HKTDC and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP) Corporation. Speakers included Nicholas Yang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology, HKSAR Government and Marian Gaultney, Head, International Collaboration & Business Development, HKSTP.
“Hong Kong is an ideal place for testing German technology before entering the Chinese mainland market,” said Mr Yang.
Other speakers highlighted Hong Kong’s access to a large pool of potential customers and manufacturing hubs on the Chinese mainland.
Forging closer business links between Hong Kong and Germany
“Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” got underway in Frankfurt on Tuesday (27 Sept) with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the HKTDC and Hessen Trade and Invest to strengthen cooperation in promoting bilateral business ties.
This was followed by a gala dinner attended by top business and government leaders. Guests of honour were Bernadette Weyland, State Secretary, Ministry of Finance, State of Hessen and Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary for Administration Mrs Lam.
Ms Weyland said there was great potential for more business and trade between Germany and China, including Hong Kong and Frankfurt. “Trade is trust, which means we really need to know each other and need to build relationships, not just over the telephone or through emails, but by being together, like tonight, and spending a special moment together,” she said.
Germany is Hong Kong’s largest trading partner in Europe with bilateral trade of nearly US$16 billion (EUR 14.34 billion) in 2015. Currently, more than 600 German companies have operations in Hong Kong.