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Lee Kee chief executive Clara Chan sees an increase in demand in metal trading from customers in Southeast Asia countries in coming years in light of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. Photo: Felix Wong

Metals trader Lee Kee eyes rising demand in region from Belt and Road Initiative

Singapore office set up to capture rising opportunities

China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” is expected to boost demand for commodities in the region and has prompted Hong Kong’s metals trader Lee Kee Holdings to set up an office in Singapore to capture rising opportunities.

Founded in 1947, Lee Keetrades zinc, nickel, aluminium and a host of other metals and supplies more than 1,000 manufacturers in China and Asia.

The company’s chief executive, Clara Chan Yuen-shan, said the company decided to open an office in Singapore to serve customers in Southeast Asia.

“We have many manufacturer customers in Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia making homewares, toys and other consumer products,” she told the South China Morning Post. “We are expecting an increase in demand from our customers in Southeast Asia in light of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. This is why we decided to expand in Singapore.”

This is Lee Kee’s first office outside Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China.

Beijing launched the belt and road trade scheme in 2013, with infrastructure projects ranging from power plants, roads and railways to trade promotion spread across 62 countries in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Chan said she believed the initiative would mainly cover infrastructure projects, with railways and power plants first to be developed.

“When all these infrastructure projects are done, trade will then follow, and this is when manufacturers in Southeast Asia would develop more products and need more metals from us,” she said.

Chan said her company traditionally sourced metals for their customers, but in recent years it had expanded into other services, ranging from aiding quality control to reducing pollution and wastage.

“Many manufacturers are concerned only about their operations and orders. They do not care too much about pollution or risk management. They would require more education to understand the need for using the London Metal Exchange or the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing platform to hedge their risks,” she said.

HKEX acquired the London exchange in December 2012 to expand into commodities trading.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Lee Kee bullish on opportunities from trade scheme