OHKF Insight Forum - “OHKF Insight Forum Opportunities between Africa and Greater Bay Area: Ethiopian Airlines’ Perspectives”
OHKF Insight Forum
Opportunities between Africa and Greater Bay Area:
Ethiopian Airlines’ Perspectives
(24 November 2023, Hong Kong) Our Hong Kong Foundation (OHKF) Insight Forum presented an inspiring session, Opportunities between Africa and Greater Bay Area: Ethiopian Airlines’ Perspectives, featuring Guest of Honour, Under Secretary for Transport and Logistics of the HKSAR Government Mr Liu Chun San; Keynote Speaker, Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services Managing Director Mr Abel Alemu; welcoming remarks by OHKF President Dr Jane Lee and Pacific Air Holdings Limited Chair & Group CEO Ms Vivian Lau; and expert findings by OHKF Vice President cum Co-Head of Research Mr Ryan Ip.
The session shed light on how trade between Africa and Asia are on the rise and the significance of Hong Kong as an international aviation and logistics hub between Africa and the Greater Bay Area (GBA).
Mr Liu said, “Since the air service agreement was signed seventeen years ago, Hong Kong and Ethiopia have maintained a strong air link. Currently, more than thirty flights are operating on a weekly basis between the two places.” In expressing his confidence about such linkage will grow stronger, he stated, “Hong Kong has all along been an important doorstep for trade between Mainland and the rest of the world. The Central Government has also clearly affirmed Hong Kong’s position as an international aviation hub and international shipping centre in the National 14th Five-Year Plan and indicated clear support for the development of high-value air cargo logistics and high-value-added maritime services in Hong Kong in the Online Development Plan for the GBA, so as to leverage Hong Kong strength as a regional logistic hub.”
In his keynote speech, Mr Alemu said, “Hong Kong has the most competent ground handling infrastructure and ground handling companies that are customer oriented, efficiently process and easily adjustable to market needs and market demand.” When expressing positively on Hong Kong International Airport’s world-acclaimed management service and the support to various operators, he stated, “There exists a large number of freight forwarders, cargo agents, sea freight agents and a number of experts in the sector of logistics in Hong Kong. So, for all these reasons, Hong Kong is the most privileged, I would say.”
Addressing the audience with a welcoming speech, Dr Jane Lee said, “Africa will play a bigger role in Hong Kong’s international trade and investment. Fast-growing economies in the continent, such as Ethiopia, are expected to witness a close-to-double-digit growth in GDP. In this year’s Policy Address and the subsequent Action Plan on Modern Logistics Development, we are pleased to see that the HKSAR Government has unveiled a wide range of measures to foster the development of the logistics industry and to promote digitalisation, data interconnectivity and management standards in Hong Kong and GBA. With national recognition of Hong Kong’s core advantages under the “One Country, Two Systems” prinicple, Hong Kong’s importance in global trade and commerce would only be more prominent than ever.”
In her welcoming remarks, Ms Vivian Lau inspired the audience by highlighting the huge potential between Ethiopia, the horn of Africa, part of BRICS, and also the new Silk Road—the Belt and Road Initiative, and Hong Kong, the super-connector of China. She concluded, “The goal of logistics is more than just getting to the customer the right product at the right place, the right time and the right price. It is not just getting goods from one place to another, but about enhancing humanity for years to come.”
Mr Ryan Ip presented his expert angle on how Hong Kong is supercharging the Belt and Road and is taking on its role as the international gateway to the GBA. He highlighted, “Hong Kong International Airport has 170 international destinations, which is by far the most internationally connected airport within the GBA. 75% of all the international cargos to and from GBA are handled by the HKIA.” In reviewing the cargo throughput performance across regions, he stated, “Over the past decade, Middle East, Africa and Latin America have played a dominant role in fostering growth and have been increasingly important to Hong Kong's air freight. The cargo throughput to these regions has increased by more than 200,000 tons, contributing to two-thirds of the growth during the same period.”
Mr Alemu and Dr Lee further exchanged their views at the panel discussion, moderated by Ms Lau, on the important factors affecting the development and collaboration between Africa and Hong Kong. Dr Lee denoted, “I’m optimistic in the growing economy in Hong Kong, China and the Greater Bay Area as a whole.” She also stressed her confidence in the long-term talent pool in Hong Kong with the Government’s new policy in developing the city into an international education hub, where one of the talent sources shall be from Africa. Dr Lee thereby stressed, “This kind of cultural exchanges would enhance our experiences, enrich our interchanges, and also enhance our communication and friendship with each other.”
Mr Alemu further stated, “We have a very good engagement and agreement with the Hong Kong Government when it comes to traffic rights. That is an active bilateral services agreement which allows us to expand in this market.” He further elaborated on his confidence, “The support from the Government in terms of the traffic right side, is much encouraging, and we do not see any limitation from that perspective.”
1. Group photo (from left to right): Pacific Air Holdings Limited Chair & Group CEO Ms Vivian Lau, Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services Managing Director Mr Abel Alemu, Under Secretary for Transport and Logistics of HKSAR Government Mr Liu Chun San, OHKF President Dr Jane Lee and OHKF Vice President cum Co-Head of Research Mr Ryan Ip. 。
2. In his speech, Mr Liu stated, “Currently, more than 30 flights are operating on a weekly basis between the two places (Hong Kong and Ethiopia). I am confident that such linkage will continue to grow stronger. With the thriving flow of goods and people between Africa and GBA, there is indeed potential for our African friends to further utilise Hong Kong International Airport as its Asian logistics hub.”
3. Mr Abel Alemu said, “China’s increasing demand for raw materials, and Africa’s capability to supply raw material to China would make the trade relationship very important; and Africa’s growing demand because of its growing young population and economic growth for Chinese manufactured goods would create a very sustainable link between these two regions. There is an increase in investment particularly by the number of Chinese companies of different sources in all 54 countries in Africa, that creates not only a trade link, but also a social culture movement.”
4. Moderated by Ms Vivian Lau, Mr Abel Alemu and Dr Jane Lee exchanged insights during the panel discussion on the similarities and differences between Ethiopia and Hong Kong; Hong Kong’s aviation, logistics infrastructure and talent pool landscape; and Ethiopia’s future aspirations in cargo and logistics.
5. In her welcoming remarks, Dr Jane Lee stated, “Hong Kong’s world-class infrastructure, highly efficient logistics service and customs clearance procedures, together with our unrivalled international connectivity, make Hong Kong the preferred route. Hong Kong’s role as the international gateway connecting GBA, Africa and the world is beyond question.”
6. Ms Vivian Lau stated, “When Ethiopia, the horn of Africa, part of BRICS, and Belt and Road Initiative meets Hong Kong the super-connector of China, the opportunities for collaboration and new solutions created are immense.”
7. From an analytic angle, Mr Ryan Ip gave a thorough overview on Hong Kong’s aviation and logistic landscape. He indicated three future opportunities of the city: unlimited business opportunities with its integration into the Belt and Road Initiative and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership; land supply and policy support outlined in the Policy Address 2023; and the enrichment of airport logistics infrastructure.