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The 17th Asian Financial Forum concludes successfully




The 17th Asian Financial Forum (AFF), jointly organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), successfully concluded today, attracting over 3,600 financial and business elites from more than 50 countries and regions, including over 70 overseas and Mainland China delegations. The Forum showcased Hong Kong’s thriving economy as participants explored opportunities, accelerated sustainable development and multilateral cooperation and launched Hong Kong’s conferences for the year.

The event was marked by a vibrant atmosphere. Various segments – including the opening session, plenary discussions, policy dialogue, keynote luncheons and cocktail reception – were well attended. Leaders from around the world actively engaged in discussions.

In just two days, the Forum arranged over 700 one-on-one meetings, successfully connecting investors with project owners and exploring opportunities for industry and investment cooperation. After the Forum’s conclusion, participants will have the opportunity to continue discussions and meetings online from tomorrow until 30 January (Tuesday).

Over the two-day physical event, the AFF brought together more than 140 policymakers, international financial and multilateral organisation representatives, financial institutions and corporate leaders from around the world as speakers.

On the first day of the Forum, Prof Jeffrey D 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.

One of the highlights of this year’s AFF was the Plenary Session I – Charting the Path to a Shared Future, hosted by Christopher Hui, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the HKSAR, bringing together financial officials from around the world to discuss economic challenges countries face. Julapun Amornvivat, Deputy Minister of Finance, Thailand, 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.” H.E. Dr Mohamed Maait, Minister of Finance, Egypt, mentioned that the world was grappling with rising geopolitical tensions and a lack of clarity about the future, weighing on the achievement of sustainable economic growth. To address global challenges, the world needed to deploy all efforts to coordinate economic policies on a multilateral scale.

On the second day, the Breakfast Panel focused on Unleashing the Dragon’s Currency: Navigating Renminbi Internationalisation on the Global Stage, allowing participants to delve into the renminbi’s growing use worldwide and trends in international demand. 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, addressed the Keynote Luncheon on the second day, which was moderated by Raymund Chao, Asia Pacific and China Chairman, PwC.

Global Spectrum, Dialogues for Tomorrow and Fireside Chat brought together pioneers from various industries to discuss a host of topical subjects, explored the latest Web 3.0 and virtual asset development, the future of fintech innovation, CIO Insights, green finance and opportunities in new markets. Speakers included Bob Prince, Co-Chief Investment Officer of Bridgewater Associates, Dr Ma Jun, Chairman and President, Hong Kong Green Finance Association (HKGFA), Guinandra (Andra) Jatikusumo, Group Director and Chief of Investments & Business Development of CT Corp, Darmawan Junaidi, President Director, Bank Mandiri, Yat Siu, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Animoca Brands, and more.

Understanding prospects for mainland industries, environmental economics

To gauge participants’ views on the global economic outlook this year, the Forum conducted on-site voting during panel discussions. For instance, at the Panel Discussion on Global Economic Outlook, participants were asked about the greatest threats or uncertainties 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%), persistent inflation (6%), a tightened monetary environment (4.2%), continued supply chain reshaping (3.6%) and other factors (1.8%).

In the newly introduced 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%. Electric vehicles (26.1%) and renewable energy (18.8%) followed in second and third place, respectively. Advanced manufacturing (15.8%), other industries (4.2%) and electronic devices (3.2%) ranked subsequently.

Over 700 matching sessions held on-site, online platform continues to yield results

Through the years, the Forum has played a crucial role in deepening business and trade collaboration. AFF Deal-making, a global investment project-matching event jointly organised by the HKTDC and Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (HKVCA), was well received, facilitating over 700 one-on-one meetings, connecting funds and investment projects from around the world. The founder of one of the start-ups from Thailand said he had met 20 visitors with potential deals, ranging from a family office to a legal adviser. He also commented that the geographical diversity of the visitors at Deal-making was extensive, ranging from India to Europe and Japan. The deal-making session had presented valuable opportunities to find potential business partners.

This year’s AFF also facilitated the signing of various Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and Agreement. These included the Comprehensive Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement between Hong Kong and Croatia and Memorandum of Understanding between the Financial Services Development Council and Financial Sector Development Program of Saudi Arabia.

The Forum also featured exhibition zones including the Fintech Showcase, Fintech HK Startup Salon, the InnoVenture Salon and Global Investment Zone, presenting innovative solutions from international financial institutions and introducing prospective unicorns from Hong Kong and around the world. The exhibition segment brought together over 140 exhibitors, including international financial institutions, technology companies, start-ups, investment promotion agencies, and sponsors, including knowledge partner PwC, along with HSBC, Bank of China, Standard Chartered Bank, UBS, China International Capital Corporation (CICC), Huatai International and Cyberport.

The 2024 International Financial Week (IFW) commenced on 24 January to create synergies, bringing together over 20 partner events. These events cover a many topics of global interest to the financial and business community. They include private equity investment, alternative investments, sustainable investments, family offices and women’s empowerment, among others. These events highlight the role of Hong Kong as an international financial centre.

To seize opportunities and promote the conference and event economy, the AFF collaborated with various organisations to arrange activities for participants beyond the Forum. These activities included free admission to the Hong Kong Palace Museum, Hong Kong’s iconic Aqua Luna red-sail junk boat, TramOramic tour and open-top Big Bus arranged by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. These experiences allowed forum guests to feel at home and appreciate the vibrancy and diversity of Hong Kong.

Furthermore, to provide overseas participants with a better understanding of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the vast business opportunities within, organisers will lead a delegation to Shenzhen tomorrow (26 January), including corporate visits and exchange activities.

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Expressions of Interest for Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development




The Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath, is inviting Expressions of Interest from suitably qualified candidates to be considered as Ireland’s Director of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The remunerated position of Director is an important post with a demanding workload. A full-time residential position, it is based at Bank headquarters in London.

The Minister’s nominee is expected to be appointed by the EBRD, with the agreement of Ireland’s Constituency partner countries, for a three-year term from 1 August 2024.

Minister McGrath commented:

“This is an exciting opportunity to represent Ireland (and our Constituency partners Denmark, Lithuania and Kosovo) as a Director on the Board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development overseeing the policy-making and governance of the Bank. The EBRD is a unique International Financial Institution supporting projects across three continents. By investing in projects which otherwise would not be fully met by the market, the EBRD promotes entrepreneurship and fosters transition towards open and sustainable market economies. I am keen to ensure our Irish representative has the ability, education, vision, and experience to make a significant contribution to the Board and brings a range of skills and diverse perspective to the deliberations of the Board.

My nominee will need high competence in economic and financial matters. Expertise can come from notable or significant achievements in the corporate or financial sector, academia, policy-focused institutions, or public service. Importantly, they will have the highest ethical standards, a strong sense of professionalism and commitment, and dedication to serving the interests of all the shareholders and be able to make themself readily available to the Board in the fulfilment of their duties.”

Expressions of interest will be accepted up to 3pm on 27th March 2024

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Council adopts regulation on instant payments





The Council adopted today a regulation that will make instant payments fully available in euro to consumers and businesses in the EU and in EEA countries.

The new rules will improve the strategic autonomy of the European economic and financial sector as they will help reduce any excessive reliance on third-country financial institutions and infrastructures. Improving the possibilities to mobilize cash-flows will bring benefits for citizens and companies and allow for innovative added value services.

The instant payments regulation will allow people to transfer money within ten seconds at any time of the day, including outside business hours, not only within the same country but also to another EU member state. The regulation takes into consideration particularities of non-euro area entities.

Payment service providers such as banks, which provide standard credit transfers in euro, will be required to offer the service of sending and receiving instant payments in euro. The charges that apply (if any) must not be higher than the charges that apply for standard credit transfers.

The new rules will come into force after a transition period that will be faster in the euro area and longer in the non-euro area, that needs more time to adjust.

The regulation grants access for payment and e-money institutions (PIEMIs) to payment systems, by changing the settlement finality Directive (SFD). As a result, these entities will be covered by the obligation to offer the service of sending and receiving instant credit transfers, after a transitional period. The regulation includes appropriate safeguards to ensure that the access of PIEMIs to payment systems doesn’t carry additional risk to the system.

Under the new rules, instant payment providers will need to verify that the beneficiary’s IBAN and name match in order to alert the payer to possible mistakes or fraud before a transaction is made. This requirement will apply to regular transfers too.

The regulation includes a review clause with a requirement for the Commission to present a report containing an evaluation of the development of credit charges.


This initiative comes in the context of the completion of the capital markets union. The capital markets union is the EU’s initiative to create a truly single market for capital across the EU. It aims to get investment and savings flowing across all member states for the benefit of citizens, businesses, and investors.

On 26 October 2022 the Commission put forward a proposal on instant payments that amends and modernises the single euro payments area (SEPA) regulation of 2012 on standard credit transfers in euro by adding to it specific provisions for instant credit transfers in euro.

Source: European Council

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FCA highlights need for enhanced competition in wholesale data markets





The FCA has unveiled the outcomes of its in-depth study into the wholesale data market, focusing on the sectors of credit ratings data, benchmarks, and market data vendor services.

Despite deciding against major regulatory actions due to the risk of unintended consequences that could affect the data’s availability and quality—a crucial resource for global investors—the FCA has pinpointed several areas where competition could be significantly improved.

The study’s revelations indicate that the current state of competition in these markets may lead to users incurring higher costs for data than would be the case in a more competitive environment. This concern is particularly pressing given the critical role that such data plays in supporting effective investment decisions across the financial sector.

In a move to address these findings, the FCA has proposed initiatives aimed at ensuring wholesale data is distributed under fair, reasonable, and transparent conditions. This approach forms a part of the regulator’s broader strategy to ‘repeal and replace’ assimilated EU law, reinforcing the UK’s status as a premier global financial hub fostering investment, innovation, and sustainable growth.

Sheldon Mills, the FCA’s Executive Director of Consumers and Competition, emphasised the importance of quality and accessible wholesale data for the efficiency of financial markets. “The quality and availability of wholesale data is integral to well-functioning wholesale financial markets,” Mills stated. He further clarified, “Our market study found that firms can access the data they need to make effective investment decisions. We do not believe the case has been made for significant interventions. However, we will examine ways to help support wholesale data being provided on fair, reasonable and transparent terms.”

In its commitment to fostering a competitive and fair marketplace, the FCA will continue to scrutinize allegations of anti-competitive behavior across all markets, including wholesale data markets, leveraging its powers under the Competition Act to address any such issues.

Source: Fintech Global


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