Representatives from Guernsey Finance visited China last week to further strengthen relationships in Shanghai and Beijing.

Peter Niven, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance – the promotional agency for the Island's finance industry internationally and Fiona Le Poidevin, Deputy Chief Executive, spent two days in Shanghai and three days in Beijing.

Their itinerary included a visit to the Island's representative office which was established in Shanghai at the end of 2007, as well as meetings with several Chinese banks, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE), the China Trustee Association and the Shanghai Bar Association.

In addition, the pair also visited the Shanghai operations of law firm Ogier and fund administrator International Administration Group (IAG), who have both established a presence in the city during this year.

"This is the first time Fiona has visited China since she joined us at the end of March and so it was a very good opportunity for her to see firsthand how we have developed our representation in the country during the last three and a half years," said Mr Niven.

"We have made real progress in increasing awareness of the Guernsey brand and this is now being assisted by the growing number of firms with a base in the Island who are establishing operations in the Far East and in particular, China. It was very useful to visit the offices of Ogier and IAG in Shanghai as a way to better understand their businesses and also to be able to offer any assistance we can provide in dealing with governmental or other officials."

At the end of last year, the Guernsey Government signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the Chinese central government tax authorities and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Shanghai Financial Services Office (SFSO).

Mr Niven highlighted the meeting with the Chinese banking regulator, CBRC, as another step on the road to it signing a MoU with the Island's financial services regulator, the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC). It is expected that Vice-Chairman Wang Zhaoxing will visit Guernsey later this year to sign the agreement.

Mr Niven said: "We have now met CBRC on several occasions and we had yet further encouraging discussions towards signing a MoU. In fact, we were told that Vice Chairman Wang specifically wants to visit Guernsey to complete the signing of the agreement and we are hopeful that he can find the time so that this can be completed by the end of the year. This will be an extremely positive step for Guernsey firms doing business in China and highlights the strengthening relationships between the two jurisdictions."

Mr Niven and Miss Le Poidevin also met with Miss Chen Wen, Director of European Affairs within the office of Madam Fu Ying, Vice Foreign Minister in the Chinese Government. They held further discussions about the proposed student exchange programme which is due to commence this October with a group from the Guernsey College of Further Education spending a week at a school in the home town of Madam Fu Ying, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.

Mr Niven added: "We have made a number of very good contacts in China during the past few years and last week's visit provided a further chance for us to cement relationships in Shanghai and Beijing across a number of areas and not just finance, although this remains our primary focus and the outlook from this trip is very optimistic in terms of attracting business from the region to Guernsey."

A Guernsey Finance delegation will be visiting Singapore and Hong Kong at the start of November. This will include promoting the fact that earlier this year Guernsey companies were given the green light to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEx) and give support to local firms such as Ogier, IAG, Nerine and Louvre who have established offices in Hong Kong and Collas Crill which has opened up in Singapore.

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