Australasian Forum Online 21st & 22nd January 2021 Report Background Due to the pandemic, Australasian Forum was held online this year via zoom. To account for the time differences among various states, the meetings were held from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm AEDT. Highlights / Outcome of Australasian Forum Discussion 1. Impact of COVID-19 · COVID-19 has caused major disruptions to businesses. HKABA & HKNZBA have not been able to organise face-to-face networking events for most of last year. As a result, membership has dropped. However, the association managed to organise online Webinars to continue engaging with members. · With easing of restrictions in QLD, South Australia and Western Australia, state chapters of HKABA as well as HKNZBA have started to organise physical functions in past few months and the response has been positive. It is hoped that the situation will improve, and more functions can be held. 2. Trade & Business Updates Bonnie did a presentation to the participants highlighting HKTDC initiatives in supporting SMEs during COVID and major events in 2021 namely Asia Summit on Global Health on 24th November, Belt and Road Summit on 13th & 14th September and HK Forum. An overview of the revamped online marketplace eMP 2.0 was provided to highlight the B2B platform & e-commerce opportunities. There was a general discussion on the sentiments towards Hong Kong. The Australia-China trade tension has caused concerns in the business community. But it does not affect Australian companies exporting / doing business in HK. It illustrates HK as a separate jurisdiction and a gateway to Mainland China. Chapter Presidents shared their observations that overall business continued with HK and the HK Brand was still strong. However, they felt that it would be important for HK to maintain the rule of law. 3. Planning for Post-COVID It is acknowledged that the associations will have to be ready for the “new normal”. Noting that there can still be mini-outbreaks and uncertainties; but members value face-to-face meetings and events. Thus, the associations have started to plan their events in 2021 with a mix of online Webinars and physical networking functions. To kick-start the beginning of a new year, all state chapters of HKABA have already fixed the date for a Chinese New Year networking event. Format varies from state to state; including Yum Cha luncheon, after-five reception and a traditional Chinese dinner. 4. Membership Members are lifeblood of the associations. It is important to provide value and benefits to HKABA and HKNZBA members; especially during the current challenging times. Participants discussed how to grow membership and what benefits to provide. Some of the ideas include: · Members get members – encourage members to bring a friend / non-member to events · Reach out to former / lapsed members and invite them to re-join · Create a promotional video · Create and update social media accounts regularly · Hold a diverse range of events to appeal / cater for a variety of age groups e.g. young professionals. Membership drive campaign will also be run in 2021 with details to be decided. 5. Strengthen HKABA & HKNZBA To strengthen the association and ensure consistencies among incorporated and non-incorporated chapters, HKABA is looking into consolidating all five chapters under the National umbrella; with each chapter retaining its autonomy. Lucinda explained how the new structure would streamline and synergise the association. Questions and concerns were raised and addressed. After initial discussion, it was agreed that there would be further consultation with the incorporated chapters. Conclusion The Forum was an excellent kick-start of 2021 after a disruptive year. The new online format with two morning sessions of the Forum were productive and effective. Participants actively contributed to the discussion and shared their viewpoints. They would bring some of the ideas and brief their respective chapters committee accordingly. While the online format worked fine, the networking and face-to-face component was missing. It is hoped that Australasian Forum 2022 will be a physical event.