Asian Financial Forum assembles international heavyweights to examine issues on global finance, economy, trade and sustainability (with photos/videos)

The 16th Asian Financial Forum (AFF), co-organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, opened today (January 11). The two-day forum, accessible both physically and virtually, assembles thousands of top businesspersons, senior officials and thought leaders from over 70 countries or regions to share their insights on issues related to global finance and economy, and explore co-operation opportunities.

Under the theme of "Accelerating Transformation: Impact ∙ Inclusion ∙ Innovation", this premier financial and business forum provides a platform for the heavyweights to examine ways to formulate better business strategies and develop a blueprint for sustainable growth after the past turbulent years and explore how global corporates can work together to create a resilient economic landscape through innovation and inclusion.

Addressing the opening session of the AFF this morning, the Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, pointed out that the forum, as Asia's premier annual financial forum, attracted more than 100 global business leaders, policymakers, financial and wealth management professionals, entrepreneurs, technology innovators and economists to share specialist intelligence and insights, and exchange views on global finance and the economy, trade, sustainability, etc.

He added that under the clear direction of the National 14th Five-Year Plan, Hong Kong is actively enhancing its strength as an international financial centre, including boosting its niche as a global offshore Renminbi hub, and an international asset and wealth management and risk management centre. "We offer companies and investors a business-enabling environment, internationally aligned regulations and a free flow of capital and people, as well as plentiful opportunities coming from our deepening integration with national development". He also highlighted the HKSAR Government's effort in promoting the development of financial technology.

The Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, gave his welcome remarks at the keynote luncheon today, during which the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, also presented an overview of sustainable development as well as his perspectives on coping with global challenges and promoting sustainable development with multilateral co-operation.

Mr Chan talked about the importance of global co-operation in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development endorsed by all United Nations member states. He also highlighted the Country's firm commitment to globalisation and global governance by putting forward the Global Development Initiative that was proposed in 2021, and the Country is prepared to invest more in global co-operation and assist other developing countries in accelerating development. He stressed that Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre and strengths in professional services can contribute to global environmental objectives. "Strong demands for sustainable infrastructure and green transition around the world present a vast promise, and Hong Kong is well posed to address them."

Earlier today, the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui, chaired the plenary session, in which he elaborated his thoughts with the policymakers and financial leaders on the role that global co-operation can play in transforming the world economy to address the challenges brought by "polycrisis" and the outlook on globalisation. Joining Mr Hui were the Minister of Finance of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Ms Yuriko Backes; the Secretary of the Department of Finance of the Republic of The Philippines, Dr Benjamin Diokno; Vice President Finance and CFO of Islamic Development Bank Jeddah Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr Zamir Iqbal; the President and Chair of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Mr Jin Liqun; the Director General of the East Asia Department of the Asian Development Bank, Ms Teresa Kho; the Chairman of the International Organization of Securities Commissions and the Chairman of the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority, Mr Jean-Paul Servais; the Minister of Finance of Thailand, Mr Arkhom Termpittayapaisith; and the Chief Representative for Asia and the Pacific of the Bank for International Settlements, Dr Tao Zhang.

Also among the highlights of the first-day programme was the policy dialogue chaired by the Deputy Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Mr Arthur Yuen. Speakers included the Deputy Governor for Regulation of the Central Bank of Brazil, Mr Otávio Damaso; the Deputy Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department of the International Monetary Fund, Mr Dong He; the Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority, Mrs Verena Ross; and the Deputy Director-General of International Department of the Bank of Japan, Mr Hiroto Uehara. Noting that the lasting impact of COVID-19 on the economy is still being felt in terms of slower economic activities and higher credit costs, they analysed and deliberated means of building the requisite framework and infrastructure towards the goal of promoting innovative, impactful and inclusive growth.

In the afternoon today, there were panel discussions facilitating financial and business leaders to examine macroeconomic trends, demographic changes and policy directions amid the epidemic recovery and external uncertainties; opportunities and challenges in the asset and wealth management landscape arising from an expanding client base of "mass affluent"; the changing risk appetite of businesses and how the insurance industry could turn the challenges into opportunities; and multilateralism that is on the rise in Asia Pacific.

The 16th AFF will continue tomorrow (January 12). The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui, will deliver a keynote speech at the Family Office Symposium. The former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Ms Christiana Figueres, will discuss the latest trends in climate action and net-zero policies, and explore the roles that regulators, financial institutions and business leaders play in containing global warming and how they can help achieve climate goals. Hosting the keynote luncheon, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and the former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Ms Helen Clark, will speak under the theme of equality and diversity to share her thoughts on how financial institutions and the business sector can foster female leadership and diversity in the workplace.

Ends/Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Issued at HKT 20:57