Overview The Australasia Forum was held on 2nd & 3rd March in Auckland, New Zealand to coincide with the Chinese New Year reception organised by the HKETO, HKTDC & HKTB. It has been over six years since the Australasia Forum was held in New Zealand. The two-day programme mainly focused on brainstorming ideas on how to strength the associations and increase membership. The delegates also took the opportunity to network with the local business and government community at the Chinese New Year cocktail reception. Highlights / Outcome of Australasian Forum Discussion 1. Future development of HKBA in Australia & New Zealand The conclusion of Free Trade Agreements presents both opportunities and Threats. On one hand, the FTAs create further interest in the mainland China market. On the other hand, more & more companies in Australia & New Zealand are looking at going direct into mainland China. The Caucus delegates discussed how to tap into the raising interest of AU & NZ companies in Asia and how to ensure HKBAs remain relevant to those companies wanting to do business in mainland China. It is agreed that Hong Kong will continue to have a significant role to play in facilitating trade and investment between mainland China and the Australasian region; especially for SMEs. The Caucus delegates shared their experience of leveraging the services of HKTDC in promoting the HKBAs and connecting companies. 2. HKBA Asia / Pacific Network It is recognised that the HKBA network within Asia is a valuable asset and is quite unique. Members of HKBA can utilise this network to gain market insights and helpful information. During the Asian Australasia meeting session at the HK Forum, there was much useful exchange of ideas and experience. However, previously the interaction was limited to once a year and was not sufficient. Therefore, it is suggested to establish regular communications with the Heads of the various associations in the Asia/Pacific region. Lucinda Chan will take the lead to approach some of the Association Heads to determine the interest and the feasibility of a more structured format for on-going dialogue and collaboration. 3. Membership Drive Membership is deemed to be the lifeblood of the Association. It requires continuous effort and devoted resources to maintain and grow the membership. The Caucus delegates discussed the challenges they faced and shared their experience in how to address the issues. It is noted that the Northern Territory Chapter has become inactive with no members after the departure of the last Chapter President a few years ago. Efforts were made by the National Chapter to recruit a new President and establish a new committee without much success. The Caucus delegates discussed whether the Northern Territory Chapter should continue or not. After much discussion, the general consensus is that it would be worthwhile to explore ways of re-vitalising the Northern Territory Chapter. It is agreed that the QLD Chapter President will approach an ex-committee member who is now based in Darwin to ascertain his interest in heading up the Chapter. 4. Development of Young Professional Alliance (YPA) All Chapters in Australia have now successfully launched and established the local Young Professional Alliance. The HKABA National Chapter has also created a new award category for YPA for the National Business Awards. The YPA is supported by HKETO as well. A scholarship program was initiated and sponsored by HKETO. It is expected that the YPA will continue to grow and develop. Conclusion It is noted that a few of the delegates participated in the Australasian Forum for the first time. They found it extremely valuable in learning from the others especially from those who were more experienced. The National Presidents provided guidance and advice, covering corporate government, succession planning and administrative matters. The Australasian Forum was no doubt a great success with the delegates planning to have a follow up meeting later in the year.