UK companies to keep eyes on Macau business opportunities

Friday, October 24, 2008
Issue 506, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 726
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

British Trade Commissioner to Hong Kong and Macau, Ian Bailey, said yesterday that Macau would remain an “excellent business venue” despite the present “difficulties times” in the world, and he expected that more UK companies would come operate in the SAR.

Mr Bailey, who presided the British Business Association of Macao’s (BBAM) third Annual General Assembly Meeting at The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, told the Macau Daily Times “apparently things aren’t as good as they were few months ago”, he could still see “excellent business opportunities” in Macau.

“Although some of the growth’s been slowing down, perhaps it’s slowing to a more manageable proportion,” the Trade Commissioner said, adding “the GDP growth has been 20, 30 percent last year which is impossible to carry on growing on that pace.”

Leisure and gaming would be the “key sectors” for British companies in Macau, Mr Bailey said, as well as education and training and environmental technologies.

However, he added that there were difficulties in bringing British environmental technologies to the SAR as it was also a “key area” for every country around the world that the companies “already have lots of works on hand in the UK and Europe”.

“But we’re trying to get them to come out to Hong Kong and Macau and look at the opportunities here,” Mr Bailey said.

He told the MDTimes a few UK companies would come to Hong Kong in December and “hopefully some will come over to Macau”, also other 21 British companies would take part in the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress in the middle of November in Macau.

“Clearly throughout the world at the moment no one really knows what’s going to happen in the next three to five months,” the Trade Commissioner said.

“A couple of British companies are thinking that although perhaps the economy is slowing down, there’re very good opportunities and still an emerging economy particularly in Asia,” he added.

When asked whether UK companies would cut down the amount of investment in Macau due to the shrinking economy, Mr Bailey could not give an absolute answer, but said “so much has happened in the last few months that it’s hard for people to look ahead with a complete certainty for the near future”.

“I suspect a lot of companies around the world will be more cautious now in the next few months than perhaps they had been before,” Mr Bailey said.

“But good companies will still be looking at the opportunities and then hopefully things will stabilise in an international term, and afterwards they will be ready to make investment,” he added.

In addition, the Trade Commissioner pointed out that the British Training Camp stationed in Macau before the Beijing Olympics led to increased exposure of the city to the British population.

“The big training camp for nearly all the British athletes was in Macau so all of a sudden people in the UK who perhaps didn’t hear much about Macau before saw it in the newspapers or on the TV,” he said, adding “that was very good for our businesses with Macau.”

Apart from the gaming industry that made Macau attractive for UK businessmen, Mr Bailey said it was also about “the leisure side of things and retails”.

“Statistics that showed Macau overtook the Las Vegas Strip about a year and a half ago made people in the UK realise what a huge market it was,” he said.

“Macau also has been very clever in terms of building integrated resorts. Now UK companies are seeing leisure in a broader sense which is a huge area of opportunities and Macau is one of the main centres in Asia for that,” he added.

Thus, the Trade Commissioner told the MDTimes he was confident that in the years to come “Macau will remain an excellent venue for people to come for leisure and also an excellent place for UK companies to come and do business”.

“I’m still very optimistic about Macau,” Mr Bailey said.

“The leisure sector, which Macau is in, is going to be one of the industries in the 21st century,” he added.

According to Mr Bailey, there are a “good number” of UK companies operating in Macau especially on the Cotai Strip and engaging in a variety of businesses from consumer goods to education and training, to banking, to real estate and cable and wireless.

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