The benefits of a strong relationship between China and Europe, and the enterprises of both countries, was among the themes touched upon during today’s inaugural leg of the 4th Europe Forum series being hosted by China’s leading international business school, CEIBS, and its partners.
Speakers such as Board Member and CEO of Chinese international investment company CNIC Corporation Ltd. Mr. Yuxian ZHOU; and Professor Jianqing JIANG, Chairman of the SINO-CEE Fund that manages the financial operations of the China-led Belt & Road Initiative, weighed in on the opportunities available when both sides work together in today’s digital era and beyond.
In his keynote speech, CNIC’s Mr. Zhou pointed out that it is now an opportune time for European companies interested in doing business with China, where the government’s determination to opening up is at “unprecedented” levels. With the Chinese economy entering a new stage of high-quality development and the rapid growth of the country’s middle-income consumer group, there are increasing opportunities for European enterprises, he noted.
There were also opportunities, Mr. Zhou said, to achieve synergies at the global level, through a rational allocation of the factors of production and resources. He gave concrete examples of how the five-year-old company he leads had engaged in Sino-European cross-border cooperation, working with 42 Chinese and 18 European firms on a wide range of projects in areas such as high-end manufacturing, engineering construction, logistics and commerce, along with public services. “With the further expansion and implementation of its opening up policy, I believe China’s investment environment will be better and better, and will provide more and better development opportunities for foreign companies — including those from Europe,” said Mr. Zhou. He told the audience of about 300 Chinese and German business executives that — based on the existing data — at least 6,500 new jobs had been created as a result of the 18 European projects in which CNIC had played a role.
He anticipates that CNIC, which has accumulated years of experience in bringing together Chinese and European companies, will continue to play a role in fostering ties between the two countries. “The cooperation between Chinese and European companies is definitely not a ‘zero-sum game’, but a sharing of wisdom, opportunities and mutual benefit,” he said.
China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) partnered with CHKD (Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Germany) and CNIC Corporation to host today’s event, held at BMW Welt in Munich. Throughout the day, participants explored the topic of Enabling the Future: Ushering in a New Era for the Digital Economy in China and Germany. In the day’s first keynote speech, for example, Professor Jiang spoke of the role digital finance plays in fostering cross-border integration and innovation. The current head of the SINO-CEE Fund drew on the wealth of experience accumulated in his roles as former Chairman of one of the world’s largest banks (ICBC), along with his current roles as CEIBS Adjunct Professor and Director of the CEIBS Lujiazui Institute of International Finance. “Open cooperation is the only way to promote the development of the digital economy, and it is also one of the future development trends of digital finance,” he said. “It is necessary to strengthen linkages, promote an orderly flow of data resources and engage in sharing on a wider scale, wider scope, and a deeper level, so that the benefits of the digital era can be fully realised.”
He spoke of the need for digital economic trade rules, an opposition to attempts at trade protectionism, and the creation of a global digital market that is deeply integrated and provides benefit for all players. Prof. Jiang also spoke of the need for the vigorous implementation of bilateral and multilateral economic projects that would deepen cooperation in the digital space and informatization among countries. He warned, however, that there is a need to put stronger measures in place to prevent risk – which is always present in the financial sector – and ensure there is collaboration at the regulatory levels. “Digital finance has not changed the risks innate to the financial industry. Taking risks is the norm for the operation of excellent digital financial enterprises. Effective management of risks is the key to the long-term development of digital finance,” he stressed. “Financial clubs do not appreciate the 100-metre sprinters but instead respect the marathon champions. It is necessary to strengthen network security, data security and consumer protection, strengthen cross-border and cross-industry regulatory cooperation, make innovations to the regulatory model under the digital economy, enhance regulatory capabilities, and achieve a balance between risk prevention and control and innovation.”
Today’s forum also included two panel discussions that looked at, respectively, digital transformation in the Sino-German manufacturing industry and how businesses in both countries can leverage digital technology. The event is the first in a five-part series to mark the 15th anniversary of the China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and highlight CEIBS’ role as a platform to further enhance China-EU communication and cooperation, both in business and culture, along with providing a window into China’s reform and opening up in the education sector. The next forum will be in London on July 19.
Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.
Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.
The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.
Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.
Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.
Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.
“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)
UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.
Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.
“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”
Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.
He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.
“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.
Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.
“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s (Dowden’s) assertion that the governmentâ€™s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.
It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.
The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.
Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)
Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.
“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.
Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.
Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.
The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.
“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.
Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.
The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.
It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.
“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.
“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”
Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.
“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.
A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.
“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.
The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).
“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.
($1 = 0.7064 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)
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