Asian Financial Forum (AFF) returns to explore collaborations

The 17th Asian Financial Forum 2024 (AFF), co-organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), is set to take place on 24 and 25 January 2024 (Wednesday and Thursday) at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). This year’s AFF, themed Multilateral Cooperation for a Shared Tomorrow, will be the first significant financial and business event in the region this year, bringing together over a hundred speakers, influential figures in the financial industry, global policymakers and business leaders. Speakers will thoroughly analyse the global economic outlook, actively promote collaboration in accordance with the policies of national and HKSAR governments, explore sustainable economic development models and collectively identify the abundant opportunities for multilateral cooperation. The Forum is expected to draw over 3,000 elite professionals from financial and business sectors, to facilitate fruitful exchanges and strengthen ties among industry leaders.

Luanne Lim, Chairperson of the AFF 2024 Steering Committee and HSBC’s Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong, said: “The year 2024 is expected to be characterised by a slowdown in inflation and potential rate cuts. The focus of markets will be on the timing and extent of policy easing, as well as elections in multiple countries and regions. In these complex times, the Asian Financial Forum serves as a valuable platform for exchanging diverse perspectives and supporting multilateral cooperation. The collective wisdom of experts speaking at the AFF will give the participants a deeper understanding, enabling them to make well-informed decisions in the year ahead.”

Dr Patrick Lau, Deputy Executive Director, HKTDC, said: “Amidst global uncertainties and geopolitical tensions, accompanied by various challenges, new market opportunities and partners are emerging. To build a sustainable and inclusive development model, close communication and cooperation among nations are crucial. With the theme Multilateral Cooperation for a Shared Tomorrow, this year’s AFF will explore economic policies and multilateral cooperation opportunities among governments and governments (G2G), governments and businesses (G2B) and businesses and businesses (B2B) from multiple angles. It will also address a range of timely market-related issues, further promoting sustainable development and showcasing the advantages of Hong Kong as an international financial centre.”

This year’s Forum will encompass diverse events, including over 40 thematic discussions, policy dialogue, keynote luncheons and breakfast panel, and workshops. These sessions will explore pressing topics such as the global economic outlook, opportunities in Mainland China, investment prospects, green finance, financial technology and interest-rate trends. Their objective is to provide participants with valuable insights into internationally relevant issues and global economic development trends. These events will boost Hong Kong’s ties with the international community, fostering greater connections and generating more business opportunities.

ASEAN, Middle East market opportunities take centre stage as thematic discussions expand

ASEAN and the Middle East, with their considerable economic potential, hold crucial position in driving global multilateral cooperation. This year’s Forum has garnered enthusiastic responses, and a surge in participation from ASEAN, the Middle East and other parts of the globe is expected. To facilitate broader discussions and embrace sustainable economic development, the Plenary Sessions have been expanded from one to two, enabling financial leaders from ASEAN, the Middle East and other regions to convene and deliberate on future fiscal policy trends. Topics of significant focus will include the opportunities in the mainland, ASEAN and the Middle East.

On the first day of the AFF (24 January), Christopher Hui, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the HKSAR, will preside over two Plenary Sessions. At the morning Plenary esteemed speakers including Ali bin Ahmad Alkuwari, Minister of Finance of Qatar; Julapun Amornvivat, Deputy Minister of Finance of Thailand; Mohamed Maait, Minister of Finance of Egypt; and Marko Primorac, Minister of Finance of Croatia, will share their countries’ respective outlooks on financial policies. At the afternoon Plenary, distinguished speakers including Muhammad Al Jasser, President of the Islamic Development Bank; Prof Hala Elsaid, Minister of Planning and Economic Development of Egypt; Alexandra Jour-Schroeder, Deputy Director-General of the Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union at the European Commission; Suahasil Nazara Vice Minister of Finance, Indonesia and Dilma Rousseff, President of New Development Bank, will analyse the influence of multilateral cooperation on regional economic development, financial crises and sustainable economic growth.

On the same day Eddie Yue, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, will host the Policy Dialogue where esteemed representatives from the Asian Development Bank, Central Bank of Mongolia, Deutsche Bundesbank, Dubai Financial Services Authority, and International Monetary Fund will convene under the theme Towards International Economic and Financial Cooperation to exchange perspectives on global monetary policies.

Global leaders and Nobel laureates take the stage at keynote luncheon sessions

Another noteworthy aspect of the Forum will be two Keynote Luncheons featuring esteemed guests. Prof Jeffrey D Sachs, President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and Prof Douglas W Diamond, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences in 2022 and Merton H Miller, Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, have been invited to deliver insightful speeches. Prof Sachs will delve into the topic of sustainable development, while Prof Diamond will discuss the future trajectory of United States Federal Reserve interest rate moves and the risks associated with economic development.

Dialogue with Bob Prince added as a special session

An additional session, Dialogue with Bob Prince, has been added to this year’s AFF on the second day. Mr Prince, Co-Chief Investment Officer of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, will appear to share valuable investment insights and provide perspectives on the importance of multilateral cooperation.

Staying ahead of market trends with Stewarding China’s New Chapter and CIO Insights

In response to dynamic market opportunities and evolving industry trends, this year’s AFF will introduce Stewarding China’s New Chapter and CIO Insights, closely aligned with market conditions. The session Stewarding China’s New Chapter seeks to explore the mainland market potential and analyse collaborative prospects with other regions, underscoring the role and advantages of Hong Kong. CIO Insights will bring together chief investment officers from renowned international institutions to share unique perspectives on the investment landscape within the current macroeconomic environment. The HKTDC and Knowledge Partner PwC will also present the findings of a joint survey on the industry’s views and outlook on artificial intelligence. The results of this survey will be announced on the first day of the Forum.

The highly anticipated Global Economic Outlook, Global Spectrum, Dialogues for Tomorrow, and Fireside Chat sessions will return, covering topics such as asset and wealth management, insurance and risk management, multilateral capital market cooperation, food technology and supply chain security, financial technology, RMB internationalisation, financial technology, Web 3 and virtual assets, impact investing, and financial cooperation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and Islamic finance. Prominent speakers include Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, Chairman of Société Générale; Fang Feng-lei, Founder and Chairman of HOPU Investments; Jenny Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Franklin Templeton; Nicolas Moreau, Global Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Asset Management; Thomas Tsao, Co-Founder of Gobi Partners; Anil Wadhwani, Chief Executive Officer of Prudential plc etc.

AFF Deal-making and exhibition connect investors and start-ups, driving innovation

To facilitate more substantial cooperation, the HKTDC and Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (HKVCA) are co-organising the AFF Deal-making. This platform enables participants to engage in one-on-one meetings, connecting them with funds and investment projects from around the world. The event will focus on key industries such as financial technology, environment, energy and clean technology, medical technology, deep technology and consumer goods. This year’s AFF Deal-making is expected to attract about 200 investors and approximately 400 projects. Following the conclusion of the Forum, participants can utilize online matching services for virtual meetings until 30 January (Tuesday) to continue exploring key opportunities in different fields.

The Forum continues to feature exhibition zones including Fintech Showcase, Fintech HK Startup Salon, the InnoVenture Salon and Global Investment Zone to introduce cutting-edge applications of financial technology and showcase future unicorn innovation concepts. The exhibition zones are expected to bring together over 140 local and global exhibitors, international financial institutions, technology companies, start-ups, investment promotion agencies and sponsors, including Knowledge Partner PwC, HSBC, Bank of China, Standard Chartered Bank, UBS, China International Capital Corporation (CICC), Huatai International, Cyberport and more.

The Global Investment Zone includes participation from countries such as Canada, Dubai, Egypt, Finland, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mainland China, Malaysia, Mauritius, Portugal and Spain. Investment promotion agencies from these countries will introduce local investment environments and potential projects on-site. The InnoVenture Salon is dedicated to supporting start-up development and provides a platform for more than 100 start-ups to connect with international investors and potential partners, of which 60 fintech start-ups from Hong Kong, Australia, Austria, France, Japan, Korea, the Mainland, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam under the FintechHK Startup Salon will showcase innovative concepts in areas such as AI, blockchain, insurtech, payment technology, regulatory technology, and wealthtech.

Exclusive offers for AFF participants

As the first major financial and business event in the region for the year, the AFF is committed to telling the good story of Hong Kong and promoting large-scale events or exhibitions. Organisers have arranged experiential activities for overseas participants, including one-time privileged access to the airport lounge, free admission to the Hong Kong Palace Museum, 1-hour night tour of Hong Kong aboard an open-top Big Bus or Hong Kong’s iconic Aqua Luna red-sail junk boat arranged by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Furthermore, participation in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2024, dining discounts and guided tours by the Lan Kwai Fong Group, dining discounts at Harbour City and Times Square, and discounted passes for Hong Kong attractions through Klook will be available. These initiatives aim to provide overseas visitors with a firsthand experience of the vibrant colours, rich culture and dynamic lifestyle that Hong Kong has to offer.

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