PRESS COVERAGE
  • The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the entire cycle of fashion sourcing and orders have been slashed in the past several months, said Sunny Tan, deputy chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries. The textile-and-garment industry has been hard hit by the unprecedented public-health crisis, which erupted against the backdrop of the ongoing trade spat between the world’s two largest economies. Generally, retailers and brands have cancelled orders for this year’s fall season, meaning they have few orders from April to July, Tan, who’s also executive vice-president of Hong Kong-listed apparel and accessories manufacturer Luen Thai Holdings, told China Daily. “We’re still in the midst of the worse situation we’ve seen. We’re at the tail end of the fall production season and many of our factories are either closed or running at a low capacity.” Normally, at this time of the year, brands are scouring for new product samples for winter. But the pandemic has brought everything to a delay. According to the entrepreneur, many retailers are unable to pay for the orders in time as the COVID-19 crisis continues to escalate on a global scale. These retailers, he said, are demanding credit extensions. As a result, the original 30 day repayment period has now been extended to 90 days or 120 days, and this has greatly hampered manufacturers’ liquidity and cash flow. Some retailers’ accounts are in arrears, but they’ve continued to place new orders without having settled overdue payments. This has created problems for manufacturers who are at a loss as to whether they should accept new orders. If manufacturers were to take new orders, there is no guarantee they would get paid on time and, if they don’t, factories would lie idle and workers would lose their jobs. “All factory owners now have to reexamine production locations and what capacity should be maintained,” said Tan. In addition, some retailers have gone bankrupt, which would mean losses for manufacturers as well. The adverse impact on brands owned by private equity enterprises with highly leveraged balance sheets, such as the United States fashion label J. Crew, is even worse, he said. J. Crew Group filed for Chapter 11 in May amid the pandemic after having racked up massive debts prior to the outbreak. “It’s very difficult for the industry to cope with such a crisis. The situation may not be the same next time. For any company, the key is to always have a strong balance sheet and a good banking relationship. Internal risk assessment is also very important. Manufacturers should be mindful of what customers they should do business with and where to produce,” Tan reckoned. He advised manufacturers to buy credit insurance in advance so that banks could lend them money to alleviate cash-flow difficulties. The Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corp launched a 100 percent credit limit top-up program in June to help exporters mitigate credit risks amid the volatile trading environment. All of its policyholders are eligible for the program and their credit limits will be increased by 100 percent, capped at HK$100 million ($129,024). Tan hailed the move as good news for the industry as it will boost the confidence of factory owners. edithlu@chinadailyhk.com
    2020-07-01
  • The central government and the HKSAR government should be more open to new ideas and allow bottom-up innovation and experimentation to revitalize economy after the COVID-19 crisis, a leading banker and economist suggests. Andrew Sheng, distinguished fellow of Hong Kong-based global think tank the Asia Global Institute, stressed that more investments in software, knowledge and entrepreneurial business will help find ways to revive the economy in a difficult time. In an interview with China Daily, the former central banker and Asian financial regulator said the global lockdowns forced by the pandemic have altered the old business model, creating a slower and resilient situation, where each economy is lucky to operate at 60 to 70 percent capacity, as social distancing requires enterprises to cater for smaller crowds and usage. He said although many businesses have moved online and trained employees to respond to the new business model, the reality is that most workers are mentally unprepared for the shift. “The transition will be very painful.” In Sheng’s view, it’ll be up to entrepreneurs to find answers to how to adjust. And the government won’t succeed by supporting enterprises that don’t make the transition because such support only makes them less and less competitive, resulting in deeper and longer depression. “The government has to be more open to new ideas and allow bottom-up innovation and experimentation,” he urged. However, the central and HKSAR governments are lucky because there’re huge savings and both are actually quite practical rather than ideological, he said. The central government also understands that monetary and fiscal policies that Western countries are using almost without restraint are unsustainable if there’re no structural policies to help make the transition to the post COVID-19 economy and society. Sheng spoke highly of the central government’s measured policies in the latest Government Work Report which, he believes, provides a medical, social and educational safety net to reserve jobs and livelihoods, and support small-and-medium businesses. For instance, the return to market stalls or street food creates jobs and improves livelihoods, he noted. “Everyone is happier and it’s people that matter the most.” Hong Kong, he said, should follow the practice and allow the operation of more street businesses. The economist believes that COVID-19 will linger in the community for a considerably long time, underlining the importance of investing in software, including technology, people and knowledge. “Investing in people has always provided the best return on investment, but we keep on increasing hardware infrastructure. We forget that the latest hardware actually carries outdated software. So, improved software can update older infrastructure and get more efficiency and robustness,” Sheng said. This means investing in software, knowledge and skills, he explained. These will not depreciate because people are always learning, and much more adaptable than physical hardware. heshusi@chinadailyhk.com
    2020-07-01
  • Businesses from all sectors of the economy have to be open-minded in adopting disruptive technologies and changing business models in response to the sharp economic contraction caused by the COVID-19 public-health crisis, says prominent Thai entrepreneur Suthiphand Chirathivat. “From conglomerates to small-and-medium-sized enterprises, they need to proactively manage their cash flow, bank loans, as well as human-resources issues,” said Suthiphand, executive director of the ASEAN Studies Center at Chulalongkorn University and executive director of Thai conglomerate Central Group. With global and regional economies battered by the coronavirus outbreak, Thailand is not spared, he said. The Bank of Thailand has lowered the Southeast Asian nation’s GDP forecast for 2020 to an 8.1 percent contraction, compared with a decline of 5.3 percent in March. The projected slide would be worse than that of the last financial crisis, Suthiphand told China Daily on the sidelines of the third webinar organized by China Daily, themed “Getting Your Business Ready for a post-COVID World”. He said the tourism industry, which accounts for more than 16 percent of Thailand’s GDP, has been bruised by the pandemic. “Thailand has been hit most, compared with other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as we rely a lot on the tourism business.” But as COVID-19 infections in Thailand are brought under control and the national lockdown gradually eases, the Thai government plans to allow a restricted number of visitors into the country, such as business executives and medical tourists. The Thai authorities are also considering deploying a “travel bubble” or corridor linking countries and regions as a quarantine-free travel zone and allowing their residents to commute between them. “We’re at the very beginning of putting a part of the tourism industry back on track,” said Suthiphand, noting that the corridor is reciprocal and Asia is a good ground for implementing the plan as the region has successfully contained the pandemic in the initial stages. However, he said it’s still a challenge trying to strike a balance between people’s health and keeping the country’s businesses and economies afloat. According to Suthiphand, it could take more than a year for the tourism and related sectors, such as hospitality, catering and retail, to fully recover. Another hard-hit industry in Thailand is trade, which has been reeling from the Sino-US trade frictions since last year. But Suthiphand said the challenges have also brought opportunities and pushed industry shareholders to optimize their supply chains and respond to the changing consumer habits. He urged businesses, especially SMEs, to adjust their business models accordingly and be proactive in networking. Hong Kong and Thailand agreed late last year to start working on a free-trade agreement to boost bilateral economic ties. “Hong Kong and Thailand are determined to extend trade cooperation and strengthen their relationship,” said Suthiphand. Thailand’s East Economic Corridor — a special economic zone in eastern Thailand — could also link up with Hong Kong, Shenzhen and other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area with regard to infrastructure projects and professional services, he said. “The Land of Smiles” is one of Hong Kong’s top three trading partners and goods suppliers among the ASEAN member states. pamelalin@chinadailyhk.com
    2020-07-01
  • As the world wrestles with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that may permanently reshape the global landscape, policymakers should stop playing politics and think out of the box, and entrepreneurs must adapt their business models to fit the “new normal” commercial environment, business leaders and experts told the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Andrew Sheng, a distinguished fellow at the Asia Global Institute at University of Hong Kong, warned in his keynote speech that “the first and foremost thing to remember is the pandemic will be longer, deeper and more painful than anything we have seen for 100 years other than world wars”. The pandemic and the response to it have resulted in huge government deficits, massive unemployment and a decrease in global production that will lead to an increase in poverty “because the very poor are affected the worst”, Sheng said. And there is no model for recovery. “It leads to a rather unusual situation where there is no theory to guide us”, he said. “We don’t have (John Maynard) Keynes. We don’t have Adam Smith. This is something completely out of the textbook.” Sheng, who served as chairman of the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong from 1998 to 2005, forecast “the politics geopolitically and domestically will become pretty complicated for at least the coming two or three years due to a huge trauma and an awful lot of emotions, anger and protests that result in populism, border conflicts and national security fears”. Sheng said local governments have supported the markets in three ways: by maintaining financial stability; helping households affected by the pandemic; and lending a helping hand to companies. “But policymakers are only in silos. Nobody is looking at the complete whole”, he said. “Therefore, what we’ve missed out completely is the structural reform. Everybody is pointing at each other and blaming each other, with too little discussion about the course we should follow to move toward a resilient, robust, green, more equal and harmonious society in the post-pandemic era,” Sheng said. “The real issue is governments can support, but governments cannot innovate to allow the economies to adjust. Only the business sector can do this,” Sheng stressed. When it comes to stimulating, revitalizing and reforming the post-coronavirus economy, Sheng — who is also chief adviser to the China Banking Regulatory Commission — emphasized each country will have vastly different priorities due to their own vested interests. “A lot of reforms in the United States, for instance, will depend very much on the November elections. In sharp contrast, what is widely reported but not quite understood is the annual government work report rolled out in April this year where Chinese policymakers created a people-based plan in their quest for financial stability and innovation through technology to help people become better, richer, healthier and happier,” Sheng said. “We really need to rethink what doesn’t work in the old model and what proves to work in the new model. ... We need to stop playing politics and fighting each other. Those who keep on trying not to cooperate will end up being marginalized,” he observed. The former central banker and financial regulator in Asia firmly believed “it calls for creativity in a time of crisis”. “The fact is 90 percent of the existing policy thinking is still not out of the box”, he said. “Only those who think out of the box will be the winners”. How to survive? To be sure, entrepreneurs in Asia’s financial center try to think out of the box. Sunny Tan, executive vice-president of Luen Thai Holding and deputy chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, told the roundtable that his company, as an apparel and bag manufacturer and supplier primarily for US brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Coach, Tory Burch and Kate Spade, is facing big problems under the shadow of the coronavirus. Historically, the period from April to July is Luen Thai’s production season. But this year, customers have canceled orders while the company is running tight on cash flow due to the extended credit terms. “It’s difficult, but we still managed to navigate through the problems by working with banks and our customers,” he said. Certainly, this is no easy task. Tan said the company has been in survival mode, cutting all non-essential expenses, trying really hard to lower overheads and unfortunately having to let go some employees. “It’s a tough game in the industry right now because only the fittest will survive,” Tan said. As the virus takes its toll on the travel industry, Elaine Shiu, director of Ejj Holding Ltd and COO of Luways Travel Co Ltd, said her company is making a good effort to stay afloat by focusing on local tours. “Over the past six months or so, people are completely stuck in Hong Kong and cannot travel outside,” Shiu said. This really hurts local travel agencies like our company”. Well before the pandemic, the young generation in Hong Kong usually wouldn’t stay in town during vacation season, Shiu said. “We usually travel abroad and don’t really get the chance to explore the beauty of the city,” she added. Shiu said she believes this is really an opportunity for travel agencies to survive at the moment and also one of the new trends against the backdrop of the pandemic. Suthiphand Chirathivat, executive director of the ASEAN Studies Center of Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, stressed the pandemic is a big test and even big business is no safe haven. “All kinds of businesses need to be truly resilient, innovative, creative, and see what stands as the real value with the kind of future society and the world we are moving into,” he noted. Contact the writers at sophia@chinadailyhk.com
    2020-07-01
  • For Immediate Release
 PRESS RELEASE   Business Elites Discuss Business Strategies for a post-COVID World June 30, 2020, HK: The third webinar organized by China Daily, themed “Getting Your Business Ready for a post-COVID World”, was held today with the aim of helping businesses gain new insights and opportunities in the current challenging environment. Some 300 business leaders from across the world registered and attended the online event. Countries across Europe and Asia are planning to reopen their borders for intercity travel to stimulate economic recovery. Under a “fast lane” arrangement, people from Singapore and six provinces on the Chinese mainland can make essential business or official trips without being subjected to the mandatory 14-day quarantine. As the progress of reopening the major economies hinge on the global public-health situation, how different business sectors can be well prepared for the post-COVID world? The webinar consists of two parts. Prof. Andrew SHENG, Distinguished Fellow, Asia Global Institute, the University of Hong Kong, talked about the “For-Active Policies to Help Re-Open COVID Economies” in the first part, analyzing measures the business sector can take to speed up economic recovery. Prof. Sheng pointed out that we're moving into the 5G technological disruption era and poverty will rise because the poorest are affected the worst. He described it as a very unusual situation. There is no theory to guide us. This is something that is completely out of the textbook. No textbook can describe it. He said that the politics geopolitically and domestically will be very complicated for at least the next two or three years. Because there is a huge trauma, as well as a lot of emotion, anger and protests. These result in populism, border conflicts and national security fears. Although there’re signs that COVID-19 is being contained in some regions across Asia, it still takes time for local economic activities to recover as the pandemic threat has yet to be eradicated on a global scale. According to a survey released by the Hong Kong government in June, both large and small-and-medium-sized enterprises were still seeing subdued business sentiment. What innovative strategies the traditional industries can adopt under such a challenging business environment? The second part of the webinar features three prominent speakers -- Mr. Suthiphand CHIRATHIVAT, Executive Director, Central Group; Executive Director, ASEAN Studies Center at Chulalongkorn University; Ms. Elaine SHIU, Director, Ejj Holding Limited; COO, Luways Travel Company Limited; and Mr. Sunny TAN, Executive Vice-President, Luen Thai Holding; Deputy Chairman, Federation of Hong Kong Industries -- who will share their insights and survival strategies in the “new normal” commercial environment. Suthiphand CHIRATHIVAT said digital transformation is significant in the post-pandemic world and what his company doing is to think of what technologies can fascinate consumers and how to respond to the changing consumer habits. Elaine SHIU said the pandemic has significant impact on the travel industry. People are stuck in Hong Kong while all business travelers as well as vacation travelers are not able to get to Hong Kong. This really hurts companies like hers. What her company really can do at this moment is to focus on local tours. Sunny TAN said that it’s a tough time in the industry. Only the fittest and only the one who has the right financial management and are willing to bring down the overhead and operating costs will survive. About China Daily
 Founded in 1981, China Daily covers 220 million readers and users worldwide through diversified platforms, including newspapers, websites, and mobiles and social media. The number of China Daily’s followers has now reached 55 million on Weibo, 8.3 million on the WeChat Blog platform, 92 million on Facebook and another 4.37 million on Twitter. About China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable
 The China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable is a by-invitation network of movers and shakers in Asia, providing platforms for focused dialogue, issue investigation and possible collective action on strategic issues relating to Asia’s economic, business and social development. Our aim is to enhance communication and increase mutual understanding between China, Asian and Western countries. Roundtable events are held in major cities across Asia.


    2020-06-30
  • 新聞稿 即時發佈 中國日報亞洲領袖圓桌論壇探討「後疫情」「新常態」下的營商策略 中國日報香港6月30日電:中國日報亞洲領袖圓桌論壇今日在香港舉辦題為「部署後疫情時代的營商策略」的網上論壇,吸引逾300名來自世界各地的企業決策人和商會代表登記註冊參與線上觀看與討論。 本次論壇邀請了香港大學亞洲全球研究院傑出研究員沈聯濤教授做主旨演講,香港工業總會副主席及聯泰控股有限公司執行副總裁陳祖恆先生,泰國尚泰集團執行董事及泰國朱拉隆功大學東盟研究中心執行主任素提攀•奇拉提瓦教授,Ejj控股有限公司董事總經理及Luways旅遊有限公司營運總監邵燕寧女士參與研討環節。 沈聯濤是馬來西亞華裔經濟學家、曾任香港證監會主席,2006年起任中國銀行業監督管理委員會首席顧問。在論壇的第一個環節,他以「疫情后經濟重啟的積極政策」為題,分析了在疫情衝擊下企業可採取怎樣的措施以加快經濟復甦。 沈聯濤說,我們正穩步邁入一個被5G技術所引領的時代。由於極端貧窮的人群會受到最嚴重的影響,貧困問題將日益抬頭,這一情況非比尋常。我們需要銘記的是如今沒有理論可以指導我們何去何從,也沒有凱恩斯和亞當•斯密可以指點迷津。這完全是教科書未曾涉及的。我們需要認識到至少在未來兩到三年裡,國際地緣政治會變得相當複雜,社會上經受著巨大的精神創傷,無處宣洩的憤怒和動亂遊行,會導致民粹主義、邊境爭端和國家安全等問題頻發。 在「前瞻對話:部署後疫情時代的營商策略」環節中,陳祖恆先生,奇拉提瓦教授及邵燕寧女士共同分享他們在「新常態」經濟環境下相應的營商策略。 素提攀•奇拉提瓦教授指出在後疫情時代,數字化轉型較為重要。企業該思考什麼類型的科技會吸引消費者,以及企業如何應對消費者的消費習慣轉變。 陳祖恆認為,目前各行各業都在經歷一個非常艱難的時期,只有適者才能生存。企業和公司需要運用正確的財務管理,且願意削減日常經費開支及運營成本,才能生存下去。同時他表示香港政府在抗疫方面已經做得非常好,通過「防疫抗疫基金」下的多項措施對就業、消費以及投資等方面都有較大的幫助。他認為這是對商業界抗疫成功的重要因素之一。 邵燕寧表示,新冠疫情對旅遊業產生了深遠影響,因為現在香港人都被困在香港,而其他地方的人無法來香港公乾或旅行,這對旅行公司有較大的打擊,現在企業只有積極自救,專注於經營本地旅遊業務。 關於中國日報 中國日報是中國國家英文日報,創刊於1981年,擁有報紙、網站、移動客戶端、臉譜、推特、微博、微信、電子報等十餘種媒介平台,全媒體用戶總數超過2.2億。中國日報微博粉絲數超過5500萬;微信訂閱人數830萬,客戶端全球下載用戶超過3200萬,是中國唯一下載量過千萬的英文新聞客戶端;臉譜賬號粉絲數超過9200萬,位居全球媒體賬號粉絲數第二位;推特賬號粉絲數437萬。 關於中國日報亞洲領袖圓桌論壇 亞洲領袖圓桌論壇(www.cdroundtable.com),旨在搭建一個由亞洲國家和地區的政、商、學界領袖和社會精英參與的高端對話和交流平臺,圍繞亞洲地區經濟、商業、產業和社會發展等具有戰略影響的重要議題展開討論和分享見解,以增進中國與亞洲和西方國家的交流和理解。
    2020-06-30
SPEAKERS
VIDEO
Sponsors & Partners