Having recently visited Macau for the Queen’s Birthday celebration (which was marked Saturday in England), the British Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau, Ms. Caroline Wilson, highlighted in an exclusive interview with the Times how the UK has continually stepped up efforts to expand British businesses to the MSAR. Nevertheless, there are still areas in which the UK is hoping to come to the Macau market in full force, such as food, beverages, design, and luxury products.
Macau Daily Times – What are the main commercial opportunities for UK companies in Macau at the moment?
Caroline Wilson – The United Kingdom has got some particular expertise and strengths. It’s a particularly creative and innovative country, whether we are talking about design, engineering, luxury goods [or] the hospitality industry – [it has an] experienced economy. I think we have something very special to offer, so it’s about fulfilling the current needs of Macau but it’s also about shaping the future demands of Macau. In a sense, expanding the horizons of consumers and mak[ing] them see the huge opportunities that they can derive from enlisting British goods and services.
MDT – In which sectors could the UK make a difference in the next wave of Cotai resorts?
CW – There are areas where we have not yet really come to the Macau market in force. One of them is food and beverage. We have some great British products here at the moment [under the Food is Great event], which consumers here may not be aware of. But we are going to make sure [that] key decision-makers are aware. From pear cider to pork pies, we’ve got some really niche products.
The creative industries as well: generally luxury and retail. You see a lot of products from the European continent, but fewer from the UK. So certainly British fashion brands. Burberry is here and doing very well (…) Marks and Spencer are announcing today [Tuesday] that they will be opening a store in Cotai Central too.
MDT – How many British companies are established in Macau or doing business here?
CW – We don’t have an exact number. But what we know is that more British companies are coming here. We brought 50 companies here in two different missions early this year. Trade is increasing rapidly.
And we are also seeking to do everything we can to highlight, to British companies, the opportunities [to be found] here. The International Festival of Business is currently taking place in Liverpool, which is aimed at attracting a quarter of million people. We are specifically highlighting Macau there as well. We are doing everything we can to get the word out.
MDT – You once mentioned that one of the challenges related to setting up British businesses here was related to getting companies to know more about Macau. Has this challenge been overcome?
CW – No, the challenge is on-going but we are making a lot of progress. We brought a lot of companies here. We’re doing events to highlight opportunities in Macau. We’re also going to be highlighting Macau in the Great Festival of Creativity, which we are going to hold in Hong Kong in November.
MDT – Some of the British companies, as newcomers, may face challenges here. What are those challenges and how is the Consulate helping them to cope with it?
CW – Macau in a sense is a big, rapidly growing economy, but it is also a small place, so it’s really about personal contacts. We have got some great contacts here; we’ve got an excellent honorary consul, Mr. Glen McCartney, and our team are coming over increasingly from Hong Kong and I am also coming over more often. What we are aiming to do is to build up personal contacts. It’s giving people the personal experience and making them realize opportunities.
MDT – What are the latest figures on trade between the UK and Macau?
CW – Bilateral trade was around USD250 million in 2013. Exports of goods from the UK to Macau increased 28 percent year-on-year to £65 million in 2013, which makes the UK Macau’s third largest EU trading partner. The UK at the moment is the fastest growing developed economy in the world; given the context of the past few years and the global financial crisis, this is a very significant achievement. (….) At the moment, the UK is a nation of designers, entrepreneurs, innovators and traders.
MDT – You’ve organized a Queen’s birthday commemoration in Macau on June 10. Could you comment on the fact that the Consulate chose the same day and time of the celebrations of Portugal’s National Day?
CW – I’ve got very good relations with my Portuguese opposite number. And I am delighted to say that we still have good relations. There was a small oversight, if I am honest. We have two potential times in the year where we can do the Queen’s birthday party. One is around April, we did the HK one in April and it was around Easter, so we couldn’t do Macau then as well. The other is around June and this is quite a specific time, and this is within the time that we hold Queen’s birthday parties all over the world. So we have to hold them in a time frame but not on a specific day. So to be frank this is something that can always happen and sometimes does happen. We try to avoid it and we will try to avoid it in the future. But I am glad to say that the Portuguese Consul General very kindly said that he has no problem with this happening today. It just shows what an important day it is, that it is also the Portugal Founders’ Day [sic].
Gatland, Davies, Franchitti honored by Queen
Wales rugby coach Warren Gatland and British golfer Laura Davies are among players and officials who have been honored in Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday list.
Former All Blacks hooker Gatland has coached Wales since 2007, and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He’s led Wales to two Six Nations Grand Slams, and coached the British and Irish Lions to a series victory in Australia last year.
Davies, the most successful British female golfer with four major wins, was knighted and made a Dame. Dario Franchitti, a Scot, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. He was forced to retire in November because of a spinal injury in a race crash the month before. That ended a career in which he won the IndyCar Series four times and the Indianapolis 500 three times.
Also receiving an MBE was British Olympic skeleton gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold.