South China Chief Representative, Marubeni Itochu Steel
Why did you join AmCham Hong Kong?
I have been in China for nearly 20 years, the whole time with Marubeni. We joined AmCham because it’s the largest chamber of commerce in Hong Kong. There are 50 percent of companies that are not American. We are a steel trade enterprise doing international business. For us, the more diverse clientele we have, the better. Therefore, we joined AmCham.
Can you introduce more about your business?
We are Marubeni Itochu, a joint venture. I originally was with Marubeni, but in 2001, the two companies merged their steel businesses to what it is today. Although we started 14 years ago, both have always been involved in this trade.
How is business?
Business in China is very difficult to do. There are three main reasons. The first is, Hong Kong clientele are all going to China now. The second is, our original clientele used to rely upon imported material from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and other countries. Now, China has raised its standards in terms of support and ability to work, so now more clientele are starting to use Mainland Chinese steel. The third is, much of our clientele that imports steel has factories where they use their machinery, then export. Nowadays, the policies make it tougher for clients to re-export this way. It makes business very tough.
How will you overcome those challenges?
Importing is very difficult to do, but with China’s improvements, we will focus more on exporting to China. We will leverage Hong Kong, since in terms of law, finance, and economics, the environment is very good. We can become a global company by using Hong Kong as a headquarters for global purchasing. We negotiate business and pricing here with our clients which are global companies and have their own factories – countries such as Mexico, Malaysia, India, and Thailand. Other than the clientele we have now, I believe there is great opportunity to find such companies in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has many initial public offerings. Also, with many companies headquartered in Europe, they come here. Some companies may go to Singapore, but other than that, they won’t go to Japan or Taiwan. Our company has larger scale in Singapore, but we are growing here.
What are your favorite aspects about Hong Kong?
The atmosphere of freedom (especially for the Internet). You can’t describe that atmosphere. The food here is also better. Everything here is better to eat than in Guangzhou, and the food is safer. The air is better too.