More than 140 policymakers, international financial and multilateral organisation representatives, financial institutions and corporate leaders from around the world flocked to Hong Kong this week to address the 17th Asian Financial Forum (AFF).
The first AFF post-pandemic drew over 3,600 financial and business elites from more than 50 countries and regions, including over 70 Mainland China and overseas delegations.
The Forum, jointly organised by the Hong Kong SAR Government and Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), showcased Hong Kong’s thriving economy, as participants explored opportunities, accelerated sustainable development and strengthened multilateral cooperation.
At the opening, John Lee, Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive, said: “‘Multilateral Cooperation for a Shared Tomorrow’ is the theme of this year's Forum. In a world of escalating de-globalisation and decoupling, international cooperation has never been more essential. International market fragmentation can only lead to rising costs, reduced market liquidity and, ultimately, a diminished and destabilised financial system.”
A highlight at this year’s AFF were the two plenary sessions, which brought together finance ministers and regulators as well as heads of multilateral organisations from around the world to discuss global economic challenges.
Julapun Amornvivat, Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Finance, said: “The Asian Financial Forum is the place where both the public and private sectors can have honest discussions to find solutions to tackle major problems today and transform the economy for the future.”
On the first day of the Forum, Prof Jeffrey Sachs, President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, addressed the keynote luncheon, affirming the importance of Hong Kong as an international financial centre. He said that global cooperation could help solve problems that were even beyond our reach. He believed Hong Kong could play a full role in sustainable development financing, an increasingly important area.
Prof Douglas Diamond, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences in 2022, addressed the keynote luncheon on the second day. Echoing the Forum theme, he urged countries to cooperate and warned that global economic fragmentation had already passed a tipping point and restoring harmony would require a great deal of effort by all countries.
A newly curated session, CIO Insights, gathered chief investment officers and senior decision-makers from international asset management firms around the world to share their insights.
Global Spectrum, Dialogues for Tomorrow and Fireside Chat brought together pioneers from across industries to discuss a host of topical subjects, including Web 3.0 and virtual asset development, fintech innovation and green finance.
To gauge participants’ views on the global economic outlook this year, the Forum conducted on-site voting. In the panel discussion on Stewarding China’s New Chapter, participants were asked about the most promising industries in Mainland China. The digital economy took top spot with 31.4% with electric vehicles (26.1%) and renewable energy (18.8%) in second and third place, respectively.
At the panel discussion on Global Economic Outlook, participants were asked about the greatest threats to economic growth in the Asia-Pacific. Most attendees identified geopolitical fragmentation (66.7%) as the biggest challenge, followed by a slowdown in the recovery momentum in key economies (17.7%) and persistent inflation (6%).
As part of AFF Deal-making, jointly organised by the HKTDC and Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (HKVCA), the HKTDC arranged over 700 one-on-one meetings to connect investors with project owners and explore collaboration opportunities . Participants have the opportunity to continue meetings online from today until 30 January.
AFF facilitated the signing of various agreements and MoUs. These included the Comprehensive Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement between Hong Kong and Croatia and an MoU between Hong Kong Financial Services Development Council and Saudi Arabia’s Financial Sector Development Program.The Forum also featured more than 140 booths in the exhibition area, including the Fintech Showcase, Fintech HK Startup Salon, InnoVenture Salon and Global Investment Zone, presenting innovative solutions from international financial institutions and introducing prospective unicorns from Hong Kong and around the world.