Europe Forum 2019

Europe Forum 2019
Milan, Italy

Report


The 19th Europe Forum was held in Milan, Italy from 23-24 May, and was attended by chairmen and board members of 16 Hong Kong Business Associations from across Europe.

This year’s Europe Forum was hosted by Italy-Hong Kong Association. Mr. Riccardo Fuochi, Chairman of Italy-Hong Kong Association opened the Forum by delivering the welcome remarks, followed by the opening remarks from Mr. Hans Poulis, Vice Chairman of Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations Worldwide.


Mr. William Chui, Regional Director of Europe, Central Asia and Israel of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, welcomed Mr Dennis Lee, Executive Vice President, Hong Kong Association of Southern California (and Chairman of Award Committee) as a special guest. Representatives from new European Associations including Mr. Bartosz Michalak, Chairman of Poland Hong Kong Business Association, and Mr. Alberto Carvalho Neto, Prospective Chairman of Portugal Hong Kong Business Association, were also welcomed. Mrs. Salla Auerto was warmly greeted in her new capacity as the Chairman of Finland-Hong Kong Trade Association.


Mr. Chui updated members on the latest economic situation in Hong Kong, impact of Sino-US trade war on Hong Kong and HKTDC’s new initiatives targeting Europe, with a special focus on Belt & Road Summit, Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference, DesignInspire and Asian Financial Forum. Top five countries of European participants, buyers and exhibitors at HKTDC fairs and conferences were announced. All members were encouraged to leverage HKTDC’s international platforms to help European companies explore more business opportunities.


Besides, Ms. Megan Fung, Regional Manager of Europe, Central Asia and Israel of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, briefed the members on Federation’s updates and Hong Kong Forum, with key highlights on major initiatives introduced by the Federation in connecting all members, boosting participation of young members, forum programme, side trip and registration details.


Afterwards, Mr. Lee outlined Federation’s Awards Programme. The objective was to solicit more European nominations in Grand Achievement Award, Success Story Award, Best Initiative Award and Outstanding Membership Award. Mr. Lee also introduced the newly launched Excellent Start-up Award to all members.


Proceeding to the interactive session, Mr. Poulis invited members to share the effective marketing tools or strategies that the Business Associations had been using. Some ideas like leveraging the new whatsapp platform created by the Federation to build stronger connections, making full use of the two biannual platforms (Europe Forum and Hong Kong Forum) to acquire the latest updates on Hong Kong, subscribing to newsletters of ETOs, etc. were raised. Mr. Poulis then sought members’ views on young member engagement. Suggestions like encouraging members’ referral, conducting more proactive outreach, promoting Federation’s internship programme, capitalising on HKTDC’s trade fair platforms to expand young membership and to solicit more GDPR consent, etc. were discussed. Mr. Chui concluded that promotion of Federation would be more effective alongside with TDC trade fair events and messages. Therefore, members were reminded to work more closely with TDC local offices, and vice versa.


Mr. Chui informed all members on the latest developments of Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). According to observations reported by HKTDC European Offices after their collection of views from the local business communities, countries like Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Nordics, Poland, Russia, etc. seemed to have mixed views towards BRI, while other countries like the Baltics, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherland, Portugal, Switzerland and the UK indicated more supportive and open attitudes. Mr. Chui stressed that the summary reflected general perceptions rather than results of a formal survey. Members were also welcomed to share their views on BRI, which might differ or align with HKTDC’s observations. Mr. Chui then shared about Greater Bay Area (GBA), with a special focus on HKSARG’s new initiatives, and highlighted Hong Kong’s internationality, new era of opportunities for European enterprises, as well as the sector-specific collaboration between Europe and GBA.


Mr. Poulis then moderated the interactive session. Most members agreed that Hong Kong could play a key role in BRI and GBA developments. Some key ideas like strengthening the Hong Kong angle in Chinese outbound missions, engaging support from industry associations and business chambers, leveraging the resourceful Belt and Road Portal created by HKTDC, encouraging more members to join Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong, etc., were raised. Lastly, Mr. Poulis concluded by encouraging all members to take home with the actionable ideas and spread through their networks.


Preceding Europe Forum, Italy-Hong Kong Association kindly hosted all Hong Kong Business Associations’ representatives a welcome dinner at Restaurant Torre inside the Prada Foundation. Europe Forum was concluded successfully by a luncheon hosted by the HKTDC at Grand Visconti Palace, and the Association Heads would meet again at the annual Hong Kong Forum in December.