Businesses hear how China’s new Silk Road will bring work and trade opportunities

4 July 2017


UK Businesses heard how they can prepare to bid for contracts in the world’s biggest-ever infrastructure project and help open to door to wider trade with China at a Leeds seminar organised jointly by Chamber International, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) and The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).

As well as hearing about the commercial benefits of Hong Kong, the world’s eighth largest economy, with one of the busiest container ports and $1tr trade in 2016, businesses discovered how they will have chance support the development of China’s new Silk Road – the Belt and Road Initiative - which will create a new land and sea trade route encompassing China, central Asia, Africa, Russia and Europe through to Rotterdam.

The three-hour seminar at Leeds Marriott Hotel was opened by the director general of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London, Ms Priscilla To who told an audience which had travelled from a far as Herefordshire, Northampton and Hull: “Recent decisions in the UK mean it is going through changes for trade and investment and should consider opportunities available in Asia, including on the Belt and Road.”

Hong Kong Trade Development Council director of the UK, Benelux and Ireland, David Marsden, outlined the benefits of trade with Hong Kong as a thriving trade centre and said that his organisation could advise western businesses seeking to get involved with the Belt and Road Initiative, which will see China invest 900bn US$ in developing the vast 6,000-mile land and maritime infrastructure scheme which will affect 65 countries with 40 per cent of the world’s population and become a huge new ‘super-highway’ for trade with Asia.

A panel discussion (pictured below) moderated by head of investment promotion, Invest Hong Kong, Andrew Davies, considered the range of opportunities available to UK companies with China business adviser at the Northern Powerhouse, Ms Hailing Yu and partner at Signature Litigation LLP, London, Josh Wong, who specialises in dispute resolution.

Discussion panel at HKTDC Seminal in Leeds 28 June 2017

As well as the likelihood of direct work for infrastructure equipment materials suppliers and construction companies, there are likely to be opportunities for associated professionals including surveyors, project managers and those in mainstream, professional services including lawyers, architects and IT specialists.

Josh Wong, who previously worked with DLA Piper LLP, Leeds, gave tips on creating lasting contracts and also discussed the benefits of having contract disputes or arbitration with Chinese companies heard in Hong Kong where the legal system is closely based on Britain’s, and which is more likely to be acceptable to both parties than either China or the UK.  

Hong Kong was also a preferred location for other reasons, including that companies in dispute can select an arbitrator experienced in their own commercial sector whereas this freedom of choice is not available in Chinese commercial courts.

Chamber International’s China affairs associate, Matthew Grandage (pictured below), who spent 15 years living and working in the Peoples’ Republic of China  outlined Chamber International’s initiatives to help UK companies trade with China and Hong Hong including 1-1 clinics which help businesses explore the Chinese internet to gain a better understanding their market and competitors in order to evaluate their strategy.

Chamber International’s China affairs associate speaks at HKTDC Seminar in Leeds

He said: “President Xi has invested his personal reputation in the Belt and Road programme, so, in a sense, it cannot fail.  Massive state-backed infrastructure projects are what China does best, and the government will do whatever is needed to ensure that it delivers. 

“What matters for British exporters is that the Greater China region is growing, aspirational, highly networked, and open to do business with you.  It may not be the first export market you should look at, but it's one that no exporting business should ignore. At a time when some of the old certainties are no longer certain, East Asia – Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, and all the rest, are an opportunity for British businesses to grow and be successful.”

Chamber International and HKTDC  have enjoyed a 30 year partnership since they jointly took a trade mission to Hong Kong in 1985.

Matthew Grandage added: “That mission still stands out because of the very generous support of Cathay Pacific and the Excelsior Hotel along with funding through the then British Overseas Trade Board, now the Department for International Trade, and some fairly tough negotiating our part which helped us develop a five-day package for just £99 a ticket which was a phenomenal price even then. The mission created so much interest that the national newspapers ran the story and the trade visit was oversubscribed within days.” 

The seminar was also supported by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London, and Invest UK with additional help from China-Britain Business Council, Connect China Enterprise Europe Network and Leeds city Region Enterprise Partnership.

Chamber International - HKTDC Seminar in Leeds


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