British Consul General positive towards Macau’s future business environment

Saturday, November 8, 2008
Issue 521, Page 5
Word count: 667
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Andrew Seaton, the British Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau, said yesterday the response to the global financial turmoil should not be used as an excuse to return to protectionism and major emerging economies had the responsibility to be part of the international response to the crisis.

Mr Seaton paid a business visit to Macau yesterday where he met with Chief Executive Ho Hau Wah to “thanking him and Macau for doing a great job in looking after the British Olympic teams and the Paralympics teams who were in Macau in summer.”

“The teams had a very good experience in Macau and everything went well. Macau was an extremely good host for the two teams,” Mr Seaton added.

The British Consul General also called on Secretary for Economy and Finance, Francis Tam Pak Yuen and Commissioner of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lu Shumin.

Mr Seaton said in terms of the British relations with mainland China, economic tie was going “very strongly”, whilst trade and investment links were also growing “very fast” at the moment.

“Britain is the leading European investor in China with about 6,000 projects of total investment US$15 billion,” he said.

“Trade is also increasing very fast. At the moment two-way trade between Britain and China is about US$40 billion and last year the two governments set a target of US$60 billion by 2010,” he added.

However, Mr Seaton pointed out that it was not a “one-way process”.

“We’re also very keen to see companies from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau seek to go global that they look to Britain as a good place to make that step into a global market, reflecting Britain’s spaces as one of the leading business hubs,” he said.

In the view of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the British Consul General said in the press briefing in the office of the British Business Association of Macau (BBAM) that it would be a major sporting event but also a “big business opportunity”.

“We’ve been encouraging companies in these regions (Hong Kong and Macau) to look at taking the opportunity of moving into the UK to try to get Olympic related business,” Mr Seaton said.

On the other hand, Mr Seaton said he was not yet certain whether investment of the UK companies in the SARs would be hindered by the global financial turbulence because it had “hit really fast”.

“Six months ago none of us had any idea that this crisis is going to be as severe as it is. It was very sudden. But clearly economic conditions in Britain, Europe and the US are not looking very good for the next few months,” he said.

However, Mr Seaton had another perspective in looking at this economic downturn.

“When economic conditions in Europe and the US aren’t so good, companies are looking to these regions in Asia in the hope that there may be some business opportunities because it’s one of the part of the world that is still growing,” he said.

“In terms of British companies’ continuous operation in Macau, the picture at the moment is still quite healthy,” he added.

The current economic slump has “perhaps a negative aspect to globalisation where problems in one part of the global financial system rippled right around the world”, Mr Seaton said, adding “a global crisis will need a global response”.

“We very much see that the major emerging economies such as in China, India and Brazil need to be part of that global response to the crisis,” he said.

“That means more cross border supervision, international crisis prevention and more coordinated international financial policy making,” the British Consul General pointed out.

However, Mr Seaton stressed that the international response to the crisis should not be an excuse of any return to protectionism.

“We think that pushing ahead with a free trade agenda is going to be an important part of the global response to the economic crisis and also to promote economic growth again,” he said.

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