By Rui Hu, iChongqing News
Chongqing – On June 3, 2019, the Business Leaders Dialogue was held during the Forum of the Belt and Road for Interconnected Land-Sea Development in Chongqing. The Dialogue invited guests, especially the entrepreneurs from the Belt and Road countries to discuss the challenge that they face today, and a matchmaking session afterward.
The Dialogue started with the speech made by six speakers from the Belt and Road countries. After, there were panel discussions with the topics such as “Business Cooperation in Belt and Road Construction,” “Business Cooperation in the Era of Economic Globalization,” and “Cultural Exchange in Business Cooperation.” In terms of the Dialogue, most guests agreed that people enjoy the excellent outcomes brought by economic globalization, the countries along BRI benefited from the initiative in various ways.
Confidence in BRI and the economic globalization
According to Guo Yezhou, Vice Minister of the International Department of CPC Central Committee, Chairman of the Silk Road Think Tank Association Council, he suggested that “we should maintain confidence in the momentum of economic globalization.” He further stated we should maintain confidence in China’s economy, and be confident in the Belt and Road construction whereas China’s GDP has maintained a growth rate of 6.4-6.8% for fourteen consecutive quarters. This well-known fact disputes and disrupts the so-called ‘China’s economic collapse theory’ and ‘China’s economic development stall theory.’
Benefited from BRI: practical examples
In addition to this, David Hsu, Director of Jardine Matheson Group, indicated his experience with BRI: “The ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ has made remarkable achievements in the past six years. The total trade volume between China and the BRI countries has exceeded 6 trillion US dollars, and the investment has exceeded 80 billion US dollars. A large number of interconnection projects have successfully landed. BRI construction has brought new opportunities to the global business community. By participating in the BRI, Chinese companies have accelerated the process of internationalization, and multinational corporations have enjoyed the convenience of new international logistics channels and port opening”, Hsu said.
When talking about his company`s examples under BRI, Hsu introduced that Chongqing has half investment of Jardine Matheson Group in the greater China region. “The Chinese government has been committed to promoting the interconnection of various regions, such as the Yangtze River Economic Belt that directly related to Chongqing. This combination of external and internal interconnection has brought far-reaching advantages to trade and investment, capital flows, and tourism. The business community has gained tangible opportunities from the BRI and inter-regional interconnection strategies”, Hsu said, “Taking the company I serve as an example, we started a business in automobile distribution, retail, real estate, catering, luxury hotels, etc. Jardine Matheson Group was closely integrated with Mercedes-Benz, the first attempt to transport Mercedes-Benz from Germany. The delivery of the China-Europe Express train to Chongqing has greatly helped us saved time, and we hope it could become a normal operation. Mercedes-Benz can be transported via train from Central Europe to Chongqing, which was unimaginable in the past. Our retail affiliates, Yonghui Supermarket, have benefited as well. A land-sea corridor links the China-Europe Express Railway, and the international air and cargo are directly accessible. This enables Yonghui to purchase inexpensive goods around the world for Chinese customers. Yonghui’s colleague told me that fresh-keeping port could be delivered within one hour, and the whole products cargo lifted in three hours, which has reached the world advanced level”, Hsu said.
Financial sector: serving in international strategies
“As the only comprehensive securities company headquartered in Chongqing, Southwest Securities has formed a full-licensing, cross-regional and multi-functional service model,” said Jian Wu, General Manager of Southwest Securities. “The company has long served international strategies and adhered to the purpose of financial service entities, striving for the Belt and Road Initiative to provides high-quality securities services,” Wu said.
According to Wu, in 2015, Southwest Securities successfully acquired a number of business licenses for Hong Kong’s current Hong Kong subsidiaries to hold the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission’s approach, providing investment and financing for domestic and foreign clients. For example, it helped Chongqing Bank and Zhengzhou Bank issue overseas preferred stocks, and helped a number of state-owned enterprises and private enterprises to issue overseas bonds with total financing of nearly one billion US dollars.
At the China International Service Trade Fair held on May 28 this year, Southwest Securities, like a brokerage firm and the China Health Management Association, jointly launched a large-scale health industry fund with a total scale of 10 billion yuan to promote the BRI. The development of medical technology and health industry in relevant areas along with the BRI countries. At the same time, the company has fully utilized its professional advantages in the investment banking field and successfully provided financial services for Yatong Logistics. In addition, the company has also participated in a number of equity financing projects, such as the construction of the western region, to help promote the construction of infrastructure services along the BRI area.
Panel discussion: BRI is good for economic globalization
In session 2, guests and speakers were gathering to talk about BRI`s effects on business and the global economy. Baocai Wu hosted this dialogue, and he invited 23 guests in 3 round on the stage to share their perspectives on BRI.
When asking about the opinion of BRI, David Shayan, Co-founder, and CEO of the Extend Consulting Company (Israel) said that government plays a very important role in providing a better life for the people. The Israeli and Chinese governments have made many changes in the past years. “We have signed a new cooperation agreement. We believe that Israel has entered a new era and has new opportunities to provide a better life for the people. This is our work. As a business person, we can do business well and achieve our goals. We should look at what the outcome is, and finally, what the outcome of this initiative is and whether it can bring better benefits to the people. This is the standard for us to judge this initiative”, Shayan said.
Host Wu asked about Preda Valentin-Ovidiu`s idea about BRI, and he is the chairman of Business Exchange Company from Romania. Preda pointed out that he cares more about the investment opportunities than political decisions. “We are a private sector company, and we have a lot of investment opportunities to explore. Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs know what they are going to do, and they will succeed in the next strategy, not only in their country but also under international conditions. BRI is such a huge initiative. The private sector does not need to discuss the country’s strategy too much. Because we all know these national strategies very well; what we need to do is the solid economic cooperation in the private sector.
Yi Hu, Customer Service Manager of Chongqing ASEAN International Logistics Company also answered the question by Host Wu: what are the significant things that logistics companies have done in Chongqing or in the cooperation between Southeast Asia and Southeast China in recent years?
In terms of Yi Hu`s words, the BRI is an open platform for his company. “This allows our local enterprises to have more and better opportunities to participate in international logistics and trade. As one of the logistics company, we actively integrate into the national strategy in this process and explore the development space. In this process, Chongqing Jiaoyun Group and People`s Government of Ba`nan District jointly funded the ASEAN International Logistics Park in the southern Chongqing. We locate the hub of the southbound passage and rely on cross-border road transport to solve the problem of logistics flow between China and ASEAN. Since the opening of the shuttle bus on April 28, 2016, all buses have been in normal operation through Chongqing to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar. In the past, due to efficiency and cost reasons, there will be fewer buses. Currently, in Chongqing, the fruits of Southeast Asia can be seen every day. As one of the logistics companies, we proposed a five-way bus, which is relatively safe and economical,”, Hu introduced.
When asking about how long would it take from Malaysia to Chongqing for transportation, Hu said: “one week via shuttle bus.” It is clear to see that logistics helped the economic globalization on a BRI base.
Host Wu also pointed out the recent trade disputes between China and the US, as a US company with deep cooperation in China, Johnson & Johnson AMO (J&J) was affected by the taxation change recently. Liping Wang, General Manager from Johnson & Johnson AMO, talked about his point of view on the discussion as well. “J&J is also a beneficiary of global trade. In 2018, our global sales were 560 billion yuan, and sales outside the US accounted for more than half. Therefore, we are the biggest beneficiary of global trade. We have a lot of business in China, such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consumer goods, etc. we have nearly 10,000 employees in China and created an economic impact of RMB 75 billion for the Chinese economy. Our company has a strong sense of social responsibility. We are committed to the development of China and contribute to the building of a healthy China. We are very supportive and responsive to the BRI proposal,”, Wang said.
When asked about whether the trade disputes have effects on J&J, Wang responses, “Tariffs have some impact on us, especially in the import business. The equipment we produce in the United States has imposed a certain amount of tariffs, but based on our commitment to consumers, the company has temporarily digested the cost of such tariffs, and has not affected the export business for the time being. We also expect the trade disputes to an end as soon as possible, and truly promote global trade for all countries”, he said.