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BOC plays matchmaker for SMEs

By Song Mengxing | China Daily | Updated: 2016-09-04 08:12

Bank of China has organized 23 cross-border "matchmaking" events for more than 8,000 small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, from 56 countries and regions since 2014.

One such event was held in Milan, Italy in 2015 where Wang Da'an, chairman of a clothing company in Zhejiang, was invited.

Wang's initial reaction was to turn down the BOC invitation for Chinese-Italian SMEs' interaction, because he didn't expect much from the investment and trade negotiations. He was proved wrong, he said, after attending the event.

His company held talks with eight Italian counterparts, including some famous ones, and settled on a men's garment maker. Taking the talks forward, the two companies discussed issues such as purchase of raw materials, sales channels and bank finance, and eventually signed a cooperation agreement.

BOC plays matchmaker for SMEs

Wang said his company, founded in 2003, had tried several times to tie up with global brands before the 2015 Milan event but drawn a blank.

However, "BOC's mediation efforts have changed many companies' fates, including mine," he said.

At the China-Central and Eastern Europe SME Cooperation and Development Fair on May 17, 2015, Tian Guoli, chairman of BOC, said: "The bank launched the matchmaking services to help solve the problems SMEs face in cross-border operations, facilitate their entry into international markets and help Chinese companies import and master advanced technologies."

The mediation events have been held in several countries, some of which are G20 members, and have included fields such as advanced manufacturing, environmental protection, information technology, education, modern agriculture and chemical engineering.

BOC Chairman Tian said SMEs are important engines promoting the steady and healthy economic development of countries, and they play a crucial role in creating jobs and scientific and technological innovation; they also drive global trade and investment.

The bank's efforts have borne fruits. Premier Li Keqiang attended a China-Italy innovation forum, organized by the bank in Milan in 2014. And the China-UK SME Business Matchmaking Event, held in the United Kingdom on Oct 23, coinciding with President Xi Jinping's visit to that country, had the support of David Cameron, then British prime minister.

Stuart Ayres, minister for trade, tourism and major events of Australia's New South Wales state, said the BOC event indicates its determination to help SMEs - an example other financial institutions should follow.

Zhang Qingwei, Hebei province governor, said the BOC events not only provide an ideal platform to attract investors, but also offers all-round services, including those providing legal, financial and consultative solutions.

Nicola Bolton, managing director with the UK Trade and Investment, said BOC, as a foreign bank for the UK, could provide resources for British SMEs, an option British banks would do well to follow.

Statistics show that in China, SMEs contributed 60 percent to the GDP, were responsible for 70 percent of the patents and created 80 percent of the jobs in urban areas.

Still SMEs are a disadvantaged group, claimed insiders, and face difficulties in getting finance and other essential support.

SMEs in the European Union and the United States have advanced manufacturing technologies and advanced management experience, and produce quality goods.

Despite all that, they still face local market saturation. Some EU SMEs do not have enough capital because of the economic downturn.

The Chinese market is huge and multi-layered. Still SMEs' products fail to meet medium-and high-end needs of domestic consumers for the companies lack technologies, management capabilities and capital.

 BOC plays matchmaker for SMEs

An investor from East China's Anhui province discusses issues with a UK company official on Dec 9, 2015, before reaching an agreement. Liu Changle / For China Daily

BOC plays matchmaker for SMEs

BOC plays matchmaker for SMEs

(China Daily 09/04/2016 page15)

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