While they welcomed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s plans to embrace the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, Hong Kong merchants said their initial experience in trying to seize its opportunities had been intimidating. The key reason: the large gap in trading systems and business culture between the two sides had made navigating business “extremely challenging”. Tom Lee, a product engineer in an electronics company, travelled to Kazakhstan in 2014 in a trip organised by the Trade Development Council, hoping to explore openings there. He reached a US$30,000 deal with a local company, but it failed to pay without giving reasons. “Its business model is hard for Hong Kong companies to understand, and the customs system is extremely complicated,” he said, adding that language was also a tough barrier. Lee said his company was now focusing on traditional clients in Europe and North America. However, he would now reassess his strategy.