Business leaders based in the South West of England have learnt about China’s multi-million-dollar Belt and Road initiative at a business seminar.


Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and supported by Invest Hong Kong, Bristol West of England China Bureau and Business West, the seminar explained that The Belt and Road initiative is a development campaign spanning 62 countries, through which China wants to boost trade and stimulate economic growth across Asia and beyond. China hopes to do so by building massive amounts of infrastructure connecting it to countries around the globe.


Some estimates suggest that China plans to pump $150bn a year into such projects. In a report released at the start of this year, ratings agency Fitch said that some $900bn in projects are planned or underway.


Speaking at the Bristol seminar, Richard Lowe, Director of Training and Digital Learning Solutions at Bristol-based Hewlett Rand, shared insights into training and digital learning projects that his company has delivered in the UK and in Hong Kong, within the Banking and Insurance sectors.


These projects include upskilling management and talent to underpin critical knowledge and skills which, says Lowe, are vital elements in the success of the Belt and Road initiative.


Training and digital learning consultancy Hewlett Rand has delivered projects in Hong Kong and the UK covering receivable and supply chain finance, as well as introducing innovative learning technologies and infrastructure to accelerate knowledge transfer within Financial Services organisations.


Lowe said, “Hong Kong serves as the financial gateway between UK, China and across Asia markets. Moreover, it has expertise and skills that continue to support the Belt and Road initiative, particularly within Financial Services.


“Similarly, the Chinese see the UK as a stepping stone into the European market – and Bristol is well-placed to play a role with emerging expertise in FinTech, with a strong and respected Financial Services talent base. As the competition for talent across global financial centres increases, employers will need to attract and retain the best talent – and that’s where Hewlett Rand’s experience in providing training and talent development solutions raises capabilities and ensures compliance.


“In addition,” Lowe added, “UK business keen to start doing business with China may find it easier to start in Hong Kong – where 46 per cent of people speak English and there’s familiarity with the way we do business, strong rule of law, a thriving economy and an ‘ex-pat’ community.”


Ms Priscilla To, Director General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade office, delivered the opening address at the Bristol seminar. She said: “Hong Kong is taking a key role in the Belt and Road initiative, launched by China’s Premier, Xi Jinping. As global financial centres, Hong Kong, along with the UK, have a unique relationship and geographical position, playing a vital role as stepping stones to increase trade flows between mainland China and Europe.”