Bank of China pledges to make SMEs priority in European market

  • ‘Matchmaking’ event created to help connect businesses and explore mutually beneficial deals

Brussels: The European market is atop his priority list, Bank of China Chairman Tian Guoli said ahead of this week’s meeting between Premier Li Keqiang and European Union leaders in Brussels.

The Bank of China team has organized a “matchmaking” event aimed at introducing European clients to their Chinese counterparts to allow them to explore potential deals, Tian told China Daily in written responses ahead of the meeting.

Bank of China, one of the top lenders in China, has millions of business clients, and as the pioneering Chinese financial organization explores overseas markets, its assets also count in the worldwide business network.

Tian and his team know that, despite recent signs of rising global protectionism and isolationism, foreign investors are still showing a strong willingness to seek more opportunities in China, while Chinese passion to invest in the rest of the world has been rekindled.

During the past three years, Bank of China has acted as a matchmaker to organize at least 30 business fairs worldwide, involving more than 20,000 businesses from 80 countries, to facilitate cross-border investment activities.

The bank has reported that 5,000 agreements of intent to do business together have been signed as a result of its efforts, and such progress has encouraged Bank of China to continue its role.

As Premier Li and European CouncilPresident Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hold their meeting on June 2 aimed at advancing the strategic partnership between the EU and China, more than 200 leading Chinese and European businesses were to meet in Brussels to discuss cooperation.

As political leaders discussed topics such as trade, climate change, migration, foreign policy and security challenges, the businessmen were expected to look at deeper collective market penetration.

“The mutual trust and deep relations between China and the EU have been earned through hard efforts in previous decades. We must treasure them,” Tian said.

“To achieve more, we are willing to create such platforms to deepen our business relations and bring more win-win cooperation,” he said.

The business fairs in recent years have been organized as China has sought synergies between its Belt and Road Initiative and other countries’ development programs.

The bank said in 2015 that it aimed to earmark $100 billion  within three years to finance projects under the Belt and Road Initiative framework.

Earlier this year, Bank of China said it had already extended $60 billion in credit for projects in the initiative, while it will step up its financing for related projects through the bank’s overseas network in 51 countries and regions.

At the end of last year, the bank’s overseas institutions’ assets reached $730.7 billion, representing a quarter of the bank’s total assets.

Profit of its overseas operations before tax grew by 39 percent year-on-year in 2016 to $12.2 billion, according to the bank’s annual report. It has set up 138 overseas branches, with 27 in Europe.

Tian said the European market has been on Bank of China’s priority list since China and the EU began cooperating in such core sectors as finance, auto production and aviation industry in recent decades.

“At the same time, the small and medium-sized enterprises of both sides have excellently contributed to our economic growth and recovery, and we need to further explore their dynamics in creating jobs and boosting growth,” Tian said.

He described the businesses attending the business fair this time as mostly small and medium-sized enterprises. Typically they have less capacity and fewer chances to explore global markets.

Tian said he sees tremendous potential between China’s leading production and advanced technologies of Europe.

“Following the cooperation among the small and medium-sized enterprises between China and EU, I hope we could reach the results of reducing cost, improving efficiency and generating more jobs,” he said.

(China Daily06/02/2017 page28)

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