Could China provide some of the answers to Bermuda’s economic woes?
Scott Pearman, founder of the Sino-Bermuda Exchange, believes so. His associate Dr Adam Wu, COO of the China Business Network
(CBN) has been in Bermuda on a fact finding mission.
The CBN is a consortium of organizations specializing in business consultancy and marketing services for large numbers of Chinese and foreign authorities as well as other organizations. Dr Wu, who met with hoteliers, various business leaders, including Sir John Swan, Cabinet Ministers Wayne Furbert and Glenn Blakeney, liked what he saw that is already planning a second visit to Bermuda and plans on bringing his family.
Direct foreign investment opportunities could open up if, as hinted, the Bermuda government loosens the 60-40 rule (where 60 per cent of a company must be Bermudian owned).
Mr Pearman said that after doing some research, he “recognized that there was a gap between inbound and outbound tourism between Bermuda and China as well as a deficit between foreign direct investment between China and Bermuda. “China has been investing quite heavily in the Caribbean over the last several years, including a nearly $3 billion project in the Bahamas.” He discovered that CBN was active in the Caribbean and made contact with Dr Wu to find out more.
The two met in London, and that led to Dr Wu coming to Bermuda for an exploratory trip. “We were very grateful that he decided to come to Bermuda and for the opportunity to have him here.”
Mr Pearman said several hotel properties were looked at as “there is a great opportunity to become a golf destination for Chinese visitors”.
Dr Wu said: “I am very impressed by Bermuda. I have been to a number of Caribbean destinations and Bermuda stands at the very top.”
"Not just for tourist offerings, but for business.
"A number of Caribbean destinations seem very dependent on tourism. I just came back from Turks and Caicos
and they didn’t seem to have much in the way of business, but Bermuda has a very strong business services industry, especially the reinsurance and insurance industry.”
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He said the CBN sponsors outbound travel and outbound investment, “Bermuda’s traditional investment is from the US
and things aren’t as rosy as they were before, but China has managed to accumulate a vast amount of foreign reserves.”
"We have 3.4 trillion US dollars in central reserves and in savings another $2.6 trillion. That makes $6 trillion.”
"That explains why we have many large projects in the Caribbean like a $3 billion project in the Bahamas
.” He added Chinese investment is helping build sporting venues across the Caribbean, in Antigua, Grenada, Bahamas and Trinidad.
"Bermuda may not have such a huge project but we have the cash and we want to invest. Some projects may be facing financial difficulty and we could be equity investors, but still allow locals to own it so it’s really a win-win situation.”
Dr Wu went to see three hotel properties. He said even though it was an exploratory trip, he has identified several investment opportunities that would be tantalizing for Chinese backers. He said China expects to have more than 100 million outbound visitors by 2015.
He added there was no need for a direct flight as many Chinese would want to get the most out of their trip so he could envision them going to New York and then hopping over to Bermuda for a three or four-day golf vacation.