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RMB service to be opened in HK

Express staff

To open Renminbi services in Hong Kong banks is becoming more urgent than ever before in the wake of the signing of Closer Economic Partnership Arrangements (CEPA) and the drawing in the individual mainland tourists to Hong Kong.
A researcher with the Bank of China's International Finance Institute, said that the co-operation scheme on finance issue between the mainland and Hong Kong cannot go further without the finding of the outlet for the 70 billion yuan (US$8.4 billion) circulating now in Hong Kong.
Tung Chee-hwa, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region announced the end of last month, after finishing his report for his work back from Beijing, that the People's Bank of China is positively discussing the possibility of opening the Renminbi services in Hong Kong, including deposits, remittance, exchanges and credit card services.
The announcement revealed a glimpse of light for the currency holders and the financial circles in Hong Kong.
The news also serves as a big strike to the local underground illegal currency exchange dealers--most by money laundering.
Tung said, Hong Kong is to be put on the preferential place by the mainland banking decision-makers as Renminbi offshore finance centre.
Offshore finance refers mainly to banking businesses operating outside the official territory of a currency.
At the same time, the news has also been confirmed by Joseph Yam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Frederick Ma Si-hang, secretary for the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau.
The trial policy of traveling to Hong Kong individually for mainland visitors, from another aspect mirrors the possibility and signs of opening the services.
Otherwise, the current Hong Kong banks have no qualified digesting capacity for such enormous flows in of the currency.
Insiders said that a Li Yang-headed group is about to board to Hong Kong in a kind of low-profile visit by the end of this month to research for the theory framework and support for the co-operation details on finance area concerning the both sides. Li is a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
According to the China News Agency reports, China Banking Regulatory Commission and the China Security Regulatory Commission will go the Hong Kong, too, almost at the same time with Li.
Insiders predicted that the preliminary regulations and rules for the Renminbi offshore finance centre is expected to be come out by the end of this year.
Otherwise, the day by day increasing currency exchanging stores will pose a big splash to the normal function of Hong Kong banks.
According to Hong Kong Public Security Bureau, up to the end of 2002, the registered such stores has surpassed 700.
In fact, some of the stores are dealing with businesses beyond currency exchanges and even parts of the Hong Kong-based banks now secretly open the Renminbi deposits and loans services.
"It's a must,'' said a banker in Hong Kong.
But the question is, the open of such services in Hong Kong will definitely be a fatal blow to the mainland commercial banks, since whose interest rate mechanism plays differently with that of the Hong Kong banks.
While to the central government, the difference of the interest rate is easy leading to the arbitrage activities, resulting in the unstable status of Renminbi.
And the fast flows of the capitals outside the mainland, is easy to trigger the losing power and independence of the domestic monetary policy.
However, most of the financial researchers are optimistic on the issue and believe that the opening services will bring more commercial opportunities to Hong Kong and be a certain drive to other related industries.


Hotel giant holds annual meeting in Xiamen

Express staff

The world's largest hotel chain Best Western International Inc, which has 4,060 hotels around the globe until the beginning of this year, held its Asian region sales meeting in Xiamen of Southeast China's Fujian province on August 14-17.
Participants from such countries and regions as Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Macao reached the consensus that international big brands should further promote their names in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region and individual hotels can multiple their force by joining a world celebrate franchise.
After entering the Asia-Pacific region two years ago, Best Western is taking efficient measures, including periodical and frequent training, to consolidate its competition with the counterparts.
The world tourism sector is optimistic on the industry potential in Xiamen which contributes to the international brand hotel's decision to hold its sales meeting in the city for the first time, according to Glenn de Souza, managing director-Asia sales of Best Western.
Being a host city of the coming seventh China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT), Xiamen is attracting a steady increasing number of overseas tourists, particularly travelers from Japan and South Korea.
Having confidence in making even bigger profits on the Chinese market, Best Western launched its first hotel, its Xiamen Central Hotel, in the Chinese mainland last year.
In addition to the Beijing office set up months ago, the group is expecting to establish its Hong Kong representative office in this September.
Currently, six franchise Best Western hotels are in operation in China.

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