South East Asia is Growing Together

On Thursday, 28 February, Andrew Methven, Vice President and Head of Strategic Consultancy of Hampton Group, was invited to deliver a keynote speech at the 2019 South & Southeast Asia Commodity Expo and Investment Fair (SSACEIF). The conference was held under the theme of exploring global collaboration opportunities with Yunnan Province.

The SSACEIF was attended by senior government officials, international business leaders, and foreign dignitaries. ZHANG Guohua, Deputy Governor of Yunnan Province, also attended the conference. Representatives from over 86 countries including Malaysia, Pakistan and Afghanistan attended the conference. The exhibition attracted over 4,000 enterprises of which over 40% came from outside China.

“The atmosphere was so refreshing. While in the West all we talk about is getting divorced, all the attendees here were talking about getting married and growing together,” commented Andrew Methven. South East Asia is one of the least connected areas in the world. Building connections throughout the area to increase economic development and improve people’s living conditions was a key aspect of the conference. As such building economic partnerships through the Belt and Road Initiative, the “Bangladesh China Indian Myanmar economical corridor” and the “China and Indo-China Peninsula economical corridor” were major discussion areas.

Yunnan is not only the door to South East Asia it also has curious connections to the UK. The earliest reference of Yunnan in the UK can be traced back to a British novel in the 1930s called “Lost Horizon.” This book describes a place called “Shangri-La”, which is a harmonious and peaceful valley far from the mountains of the East. In the novel, the people who live at Shangri-La are almost immortal, living hundreds of years beyond the normal lifespan and only very slowly ageing in appearance.

The second curious connection is a man named George Forrest. George Forrest was one of the first explorers of Yunnan Province, which is generally regarded as the most biodiverse province in all of China. During his first expedition to Yunnan in 1904 he helped with the inoculation of thousands of locals against smallpox. In his lifetime he brought back perhaps 31,000 plant specimens, amassing hundreds of species of rhododendron.

Have you travelled to Yunnan before? Are you going to now? Let us know in the comment section on LinkedIn.