Allen & Overy hosts panel debate on the impact of Shanghai’s free-trade zone

Allen & Overy recently hosted a panel debate on the impact of Shanghai’s free-trade zone (FTZ) at Hong Kong’s China Club. Facilitated by Joseph Tse, head of the law firm’s Greater China practice, the event focused on three key themes: the significance of the establishment of Shanghai’s FTZ for China’s future growth, Renminbi internationalisation and market liberalisation; the impact the reforms could have on innovation and development in China’s financial services sector and other industries; and whether the reforms will complement or threaten other regional economic centres such as Hong Kong, Qianhai and Singapore.

Clients in attendance included senior executives from 21st Century Fox, Aegon, CLP Holdings, DBS, Goldman Sachs, HKEx, HSBC, Hutchison Whampoa China, JP Morgan, Jardine Matheson, Standard Chartered Bank, the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Blackstone Group, Thomson Reuters and Towngas.

The panel comprised Jing Ulrich, managing director and vice-chairman of JP Morgan Chase & Co, Asia-Pacific; Prof Chenggang Xu, professor of economics at Hong Kong University; and Jane Jiang, Allen & Overy’s China financial services regulatory expert.

The debate covered the full range of challenges and opportunities presented by the FTZ against the backdrop of China’s financial reform programme. While the landscape remains unclear in some aspects until all guidelines are finalised by the regulators, the released guidelines present significant business opportunities for both Chinese and international investors and set the direction for China’s reform agenda.

This is the second Allen & Overy event in an ongoing series of debates in the Hong Kong market featuring leaders of industry debating headline topics in front of senior executives from corporates, funds and banks.

The previous panel discussion in June 2013 was focused on headline economic and political factors affecting Hong Kong’s role as a financial centre, including a comparison with other hubs vying for global attention in the shifting global financial landscape. Collaboration and innovation emerged as two critical ingredients for success.