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London and HK teaming up over shipping

By CECILY LIU | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-09-11 18:13

London's maritime sector is eyeing a bigger role in the region covered by the Belt and Road Initiative as it tries to strengthen the United Kingdom's global connectivity after Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

On Tuesday in the UK capital, Maritime London is scheduled to sign a collaboration agreement with the Hong Kong Maritime & Port Board. The deal comes as global shipping leaders gather for London International Shipping Week.

Harry Theochari, vice-chairman of Maritime London, a trade association including lawyers, accountants, insurers, and others, said: "The amount of trade estimated along the Belt and Road is incredible. We want to put our members in the best position to contribute toward realizing those trade volumes."

The UK's maritime service industry contributed 4.4 billion pounds ($5.35 billion) to the British economy last year and directly supports 10,000 to 11,000 jobs, according to Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Maritime London and the Hong Kong Maritime & Port Board will help each other's member companies set up subsidiaries and find local partners.

The Hong Kong Maritime & Port Board will also share information about Belt and Road projects, so companies can collaborate on providing services, such as financing, insurance, accountancy, legal advice, and risk management.

Joey Lam, deputy secretary for transport at the Hong Kong Maritime & Port Board, said: "London is a maritime hub for Europe, just as Hong Kong is a maritime hub for Asia, together we can tackle business opportunities from Asia to Europe."

According to the board, Hong Kong was the world's seventh-biggest commodity and trading economy in 2016. As of April, it had the fourth-largest shipping register, with vessels totaling 109 million gross tons.

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which was launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013 to boost trade and infrastructure, has received support from more than 100 countries and organizations.

The maritime groups started discussing collaboration last year, when Jeffrey Evans, chairman of Maritime London, led a delegation to Hong Kong while he was Lord Mayor of the City of London.

David Peel, who manages the European, Middle Eastern and African interests of RightShip, a company that helps ports manage risks, said: "We've always wanted to work with Chinese ports but so far it was hard to make an entry because we didn't know how to find the right Chinese partners, so we are excited that the Hong Kong Maritime & Port Board can now help us."

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