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Bank of China to boost SME growth in Phl

Selected small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country will soon learn to be globally competitive and gradually absorb the tricks of the trade as the Bank of China (BOC) promises to help uplift the plight of such enterprises en route to a win-win situation for both parties.

More than just utilizing moneymaking methods, the BOC seeks the long-term approach where focus lies in helping SMEs grow to their full potentials, while the bank reaps the benefits of open markets and enhanced trade relationships in the near future.

At the same time, the BOC would also caution SMEs on the pitfalls and common errors in cross border trade and investment negotiations to ease the growth pains and enhance the preparation level of the more mature SMEs.

This was revealed in a roadshow held by the BOC in a posh Mactan resort where Wang Jian, general manager of SME Service Department of the BOC Head Office, delivered an introductory presentation on the basics of SME cross-border matchmaking services.

The downside

Jian acknowledged the fact that financing for SMEs is difficult and expensive, even for advanced countries, as banks prefer to lend to bigger and more established parties which have a proven track record in their financial deals.

“This is a worldwide problem, not just in the Philippines. SMEs are regarded as a risk to loans. They have an unproven track record to pay. Besides, there are also ecological problems such as climate change to be considered,” he said.

Other pitfalls are the language barrier, assumptions that prominent Filipino companies are known globally, difficulties in choosing partners and fitting locations, unfamiliarity with policies and regulations, and the absence of an intermediary.

The upside

Jesus Varela, director general of the International Chamber of Commerce-Philippine chapter, cited that President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent visit to China resulted in the BOC’s pledge of US$3 billion to Philippine SMEs, thus serving to uplift the hopes of the entrepreneurial sector.

“The BOC have walked their talk. Business-to-business talks have already reached 2,000 companies based in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. We look forward to similar activities in the Philippines this year, as well as the free flow of ideas, services, and goods,” he beamed.

Shi Yong, China Consular General in Cebu, pointed out that the entry of the BOC will result in a vast improvement of Philippine-China ties and bring about regional peace and positive energy in the region.

“The BOC is one of the top banks in the world. The strategic cooperation agreement will bring impetus to mutually beneficial trade agreements between both nations. I wish great success to this event,” he declared.

The BOC will hold SME cross-border matching activities in Singapore and the Asean Ministers Meeting in the Philippines on March 2017 on two separate occasions and will invite Philippine companies to participate.

These matching events are an addendum of BOC’s five-year agenda with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information for promoting SMEs to grow on a global scale. The agenda also includes establishing contact between local branches and BOC branches, enforcement of information sharing, and the offer of cross-border matchmaking service.

According to The Banker, the Bank of China ranks fourth in the world among international banks with assets amounting to US$2.59 trillion.

Fortune ranks BOC as no. 45 among the world’s top 500 enterprises in 2015. Regarding cross-border matchmaking, BOC’s coverage stretches over five continents, 60 countries and regions, and 30 provinces and cities in China.