Hong Kong and Bristol can play key roles as stepping stones to inter-continental trade following Brexit.
That was the central theme at Friday’s Hong Kong Trade Development Council seminar held at Bristol’s Radisson Blu Hotel marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong being handed back to China.
Supported by Hewlett Rand and the Bristol West of England China Bureau, the seminar attracted business people from across the city who were given a rundown of the global trade initiatives emerging from the international business and financial hub.
Ms Priscilla To, Director General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade office, the most senior Hong Kong Government official in the UK, delivered the opening address at the seminar, entitled ‘Think Asia, Think Hong Kong: Your Super Connector to the Belt and Road’.
China’s Belt and Road initiative is the world’s largest infrastructure project spanning 62 countries and promotes international cooperation giving new impetus for economic growth for decades to come.
She said the message to Bristol entrepreneurs and businesses was to take up the opportunities within Hong Kong for the Belt and Road initiative – the trade route based on the ancient Silk Road linking Asia to Africa and Europe.
Ms To said: “China is not confining its investment to London, it is investing in Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and the West of England, as well as other UK regions.”
“Hong Kong is taking a key role in the Belt and Road initiative, launched by China’s Premier Xi Jinping. As global financial centres, Hong Kong and the UK have a unique relationship and geographical position to play a vital role as stepping stones to increase trade flows between mainland China and Europe.”
Ms To said Hong Kong was expecting to take a more active role in infrastructure projects along the Belt and Road. Opportunities were open to any newcomers following Brexit and urged West businesses to include Asia on their road maps.
Invited Bristol business owner, Richard Lowe, Director of Training and Digital Learning Solutions at Hewlett Rand presented his business case study, sharing key insight into training and digital learning projects delivered in UK and Hong Kong within the Banking and Insurance sectors – upskilling management and talent to underpin critical knowledge and skills vital to Belt and Road initiative for global trade, receivable and supply chain finance, as well as introducing innovative learning technologies and infrastructure to accelerate knowledge transfer within Financial Services organisations.
He said: “Hong Kong serves as the financial gateway between UK, China and across Asia markets and has expertise, and skills that continue to support the Belt and Road initiative, particularly within Financial Services.
“Similarly, the Chinese see the UK as a stepping stone into the European market – and Bristol is well-placed to play a role with emerging expertise in FinTech with a strong and respected Financial Services talent base.
“As the competition for talent across global financial centres increases, employers will need to attract and retain the very best talent, and that’s where our experience in providing training and talent development solutions raises capabilities and ensures compliance.
“In addition, UK business keen to start doing business with China may find it easier to start in Hong Kong where 46 per cent of people speak English and there’s familiarity with the way we do business, strong rule of law, a thriving economy and ex-pat community.
“Hong Kong is clearly looking forward to working more closely with Britain exploring new business opportunities following Brexit.”