Doha Bank Opens Its First Representative Office in Hong Kong

The Gateway to China for GCC Countries

Doha Bank, one of the largest commercial banks in the state of Qatar, inaugurated its Hong Kong representative office. The representative office was declared open by Miss Au King-chi, Permanent Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury (Financial Services), Hong Kong.

As part of the event, Doha Bank hosted a knowledge-sharing session on “Growing Opportunities in the GCC” at Conrad Hotel. Bankers, entrepreneurs and key corporates interested to explore business development in the GCC participated in the event. Mr Ivan Lew, Chief Representative – Doha Bank Hong Kong Representative Office, welcomed the gathering for the evening event. Representatives from the consulates-general of India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, in Hong Kong were present at the event. Mr Ganesan Ramakrishnan, in-charge of International Banking Group, facilitated the guests. Mr Charles Ng, Associate Director-General of InvestHK addressed the gathering. Senior officials from HKTDC, HKFFIA, the Indian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong, Singapore Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong and HKARAB, also graced the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. R. Seetharaman, Group CEO of Doha Bank, provided insights on the Global economy. He said “The IMF‘s World Economic Outlook update, October 2013 forecasted that the global economy would grow by 2.9% in 2013. Growth has been revised marginally downwards in 2013 in developed economies such as the U.S. and the EUROzone. U.S. economic growth has been brought down by the IMF to 1.6% for 2013. However the IMF has revised growth upward for Japan and the United Kingdom to 2% and 1.4% respectively for 2013. Growth in the emerging economies has been revised downwards by the IMF to 4.5% for 2013 from its earlier forecast of 5%.”

Dr. Seetharaman offered his outlook on the Hong Kong economy. He said “Hong Kong’s economy grew by 3.3% during the second quarter of 2013 as compared to 2.9% growth in the first quarter of the year. Domestic demand continued to drive growth, while the external sector was still constrained by an unsteady global economic environment. According to the IMF October 2013 outlook. Hong Kong’s GDP growth forecast for 2013 has been revised to 3%. Hong Kong’s merchandise and service trade in 2012 was US$942bn and US$185bn respectively. The credit growth in the Hong Kong Banking sector has moderated and asset quality continued to be sound. Net Interest Margins have rebounded, thereby improving the profitability of banks. The capital and liquidity positions have also remained sound. Hong Kong was ranked third in terms of global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows in 2012, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) World Investment Report (WIR) 2013.”

At the event, Dr. Seetharaman highlighted the bilateral trends between GCC-Hong Kong. He said “GCC-Hong Kong merchandise trade was at US$6.6bn in 2010 and has surged to US$11.1bn in 2012, mainly due to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The merchandise exports to the GCC have increased from US$3.4bn in 2010 to US$5.4bn in 2012. The merchandise imports from the GCC increased from US$3.2bn in 2010 to US$5.7bn in 2012. China is one of the major trade partners of the GCC and GCC-China trade reached $155bn in 2012. Saudi Arabia was the main contributor to GCC-China trade followed by the UAE. The trade flows in and out of China are routed through Hong Kong from the subsidiaries/branches of Chinese companies in the mainland. Hong Kong is also the gateway to China for the GCC. ”

Dr. Seetharaman shared his insights on bilateral developments between the GCC and Hong Kong. He said “Saudi Arabia is Hong Kong’s third largest export market in the Middle East. The total merchandise trade of Saudi Arabia with Hong Kong increased by 15% between 2010 and 2012 mainly due to the increase in exports to Saudi Arabia. The UAE is Hong Kong’s largest export market in the Middle East. Hong Kong-UAE merchandise trade has surged by 86% between 2010 and 2012. Dubai and Hong Kong are both major gold and gem trading centres With Dubai as an important clearing house for precious metals and gems, Hong Kong imported nearly US$650 million worth of pearls and other gems from the UAE in 2012 which represents a 47 per cent increase over the previous year. In December 2012 Dubai Exports and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) have inked a business deal aimed at bolstering the trade between Dubai and Hongkong. In October 2011 the Roads & Transport Authority, Dubai (RTA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Corporation of Hong Kong to boost the strategic relationship and existing cooperation between the two organisations. An Investment Promotion & Protection Agreement was entered into during September 2013 to facilitate investment and trade flows between Hong Kong and Kuwait. Previously in May 2013 Hong Kong and Kuwait signed a comprehensive agreement for the avoidance of double taxation.”

In conclusion, Dr. Seetharaman gave his insights on bilateral developments between Qatar and Hongkong. He said “Qatar-Hong Kong bilateral trade has increased from US$74mn in 2010 to US$243mn in 2012 mainly on account of the surge in imports from Qatar. Major exports to Qatar included telecom equipment, motors and jewellery. The major imports from Qatar are petroleum and ethylene polymers. In May 2013 Hong Kong and Qatar signed a comprehensive agreement for the avoidance of double taxation. This transaction should bolster the economic and trade connections and offer added incentives for companies in Qatar to do business and invest in Hong Kong.”