Sardines, port and oil top list of items being promoted between Macau and Portuguese-speaking world
Acquisition deals related to Hong Kong, mainland China, Portugal and Brazil were worth US$219.05b last year, almost double the US$112.93b in 2015
Sardines, port wine as well as gold and commodities are hoped to be among the items to see an increase in traffic between Hong Kong and Macau with Portugal and Brazil, under new policies announced by Beijing to promote more business links with Portugal-speaking countries.
The moves are likely to come about as a result of the first Portuguese-speaking countries culture forum held in Beijing.
President Xi Jiping said in October he would like to see more trade and flights between Macau and other Portuguese-speaking countries.
Acquisition deals related to Hong Kong, mainland China and Portugal and Brazil were worth US$219.05 billion last year, almost double the US$112.93 billion recorded in 2015 and four times the US$52.39 billion racked up in 2014, according to Thomson Reuters statistics.
Patrick Rozario, president of Club Lusitano – a club for Portuguese in Hong Kong – said the new initiative provides major yet untapped business opportunities for both Macau and Hong Kong companies.
Macau is a former Portuguese enclave and still has many people who speak the language regularly.
Besides Portugal itself, other Portuguese-speaking countries include Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, which between them offer a rich variety of products, including top quality food and wine, and oil and resources, in Angola’s case, he said.
“The new Beijing policy will help Macau develop as a trading platform to import food and wine and other products from Portugal and Brazil,” Rozario said.
“Macau now relies mainly on casinos and tourism. But it needs to diversify into other business lines and that’s why Beijing is encouraging it to do more business with these countries, in trade and financial services.”
Bank of China already offer renminbi-denominated products with 35 banks from six Portuguese-speaking countries, which recorded 7.6 billion yuan in sales in 2015, a 15 per cent increase compared to 2014, according to Macau government statistics.
In Hong Kong, Rozario said there is great support from banks and professionals offering help to Macau companies wanting to expand trade overseas.
With his family from Macau, Rozario is a veteran in offering accounting services for many companies in the enclave.
“Macau does not have many accounting or legal professionals and its banking network is not nearly as international as Hong Kong’s. This is how Hong Kong firms can contribute to its trade relationships,” Razario said.
Gordon Yuen Tien-yau, the chairman of wine seller A&A Retail Management, imports food and wine from Portugal to Macau.
“Beijing’s promotional efforts for Macau are already encouraging more trade relationships to be formed between Hong Kong, Macau and those Portuguese-speaking countries. But we still face a lot of challenges ahead,” Yuen said.
Yuen said part of the problem is that many vineyards and food manufacturers in Portugal are happy to operate domestically, and do not know how best to internationalise their trade.
“In addition, many operate in such small volumes, and don’t even consider they might be able to meet the demands of a giant market such as mainland China,” Yuen said.
“Portuguese wine and port are very good value for money, but many Hong Kong people still focus on big brands from Italy and France. It will take time to educate customers about the quality of Portugal’s items,” he said.
Chris Cheung Wah-fung, a lawmaker for financial services for Hong Kong, said the Hong Kong stock market is also keen on helping Portuguese-speaking countries raise funding.
“Many of these countries are at the stage where development of their infrastructure is most important,” Cheung said.
“Hong Kong as an international financial centre could help them to raise fund on our stock and bond market.”