Insights from the Asian Financial Forum 2024

The vibrant Asian Financial Forum (AFF) was held at the sprawling Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition centre on January 24th and 25th.

Under a banner of ‘Multilateral Cooperation for a shared tomorrow’ 3,000 attendees and 100 exhibitors from forty countries came together to exchange investment ideas and new innovative business models.

A key message from the conference was that escalating deglobalisation and decoupling ultimately drives inflation, rising costs and reduced liquidity.

Finance Ministers from Qatar, Indonesia, Egypt, Croatia and Hong Kong were in attendance. All agreed they were grappling with the key challenges of managing inflation, increased geopolitical risk and climate change. The finance minister from Qatar highlighted that the Israel/Hamas conflict needs to be urgently contained in a way that promotes prosperity for all. Investors highlighted that any escalation of conflict would raise the oil price and further impact global inflation.

The Finance Minister of Croatia comically explained that being on the panel ‘felt a bit like being in a therapy group’ as all finance ministers are trying to manage the aforementioned risks and at the same time help citizens without fueling inflation.

Financial regulators were also in attendance from Hong Kong, Germany, Dubai, Mongolia, Thailand and Hong Kong as well as The Asian Development Bank.

The key message was the job of the financial sector is to facilitate the real economy safely and securely.

With a goal of building a country of strong finance, China was heavily discussed in many sessions. It was apparent how China has made massive strides in advanced manufacturing capabilities moving from low-cost, high-volume consumer goods to high quality highly technological products across technology, healthcare, renewables and more.

I was surprised to hear that China has come from relatively nowhere on automobile manufacturing to last year being the world’s biggest car exporter.

A key message during the conference was it is now time for Chinese companies to become multinationals.

It was evident during the two days that global growth is coming from this part of the world with China forecast to grow at 5% in 2024, India 6% and ASEAN 4-5%.

This growth presents some fantastic financial services opportunities financing the energy transformation and regional scale investments such as The Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organisation (GEIDCO), complex financial structuring across PPP, blended finance, structured finance and multicurrency financing.

I came away from the conference with a new respect for what China has achieved in developing its new economy and a new appreciation of the opportunities available in the region.

With Hong Kong positioned as a super connector between China and the world and a new wave of Chinese multinationals expanding across the world, the banks with the best propositions and sales methodologies stand to achieve lucrative and profitable returns.

To enquire about courses in Mandarin or English to support your banks business expansion in the region please get in touch.

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