ABN AMRO has branches and sub-branches in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, Chongqing and Chengdu, and representative offices in Guangzhou, Tianjin and Wuhan. Linda Wong, country executive of ABN AMRO Bank (China) Co., Ltd., talked to CHINA ECONOMIC REVIEW about where the bank’s expansion strategy is going.
Q: How has ABN AMRO’s banking business in China evolved and grown over the years?
A: ABN AMRO had been in the China market for 104 years. We have grown in line with the country’s economic reform processes and it will continue to be one of our key markets in the future. In this regard, we have invested heavily in both infrastructure and human capital to cater to our future growth. In 2006 and in the first half of 2007, we established six new branches and sub-branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Chongqing. We now have over 1,000 staff in China.
Q: ABN AMRO recently received approval from the China Banking Regulatory Commission for local incorporation. What effect will this have on the bank’s business in China?
A: We take pride in our ability to combine local intimacy and global product expertise. The commencement of business of ABN AMRO (China) Co., Ltd. on July 21 is yet another step in this direction. Local incorporation allows us to expand our scope of business to offer more renminbi products, applying our global expertise in foreign exchange and wealth management to our renminbi business for the benefit of our local customers.
Q: In addition to ABN AMRO, several other foreign banks are incorporating locally. What sort of competitive landscape do you foresee, now that foreign banks can compete more easily with local banks?
A: The opportunities in China’s banking industry are vast. This, together with sustained economic growth and a growing middle-class population, means that there will be enough room to house multiple players for years to come.
Q: Local Chinese banks have an advantage over foreign multinational banks through their more extensive branch networks. How does ABN AMRO overcome this?
A: We do not aim to be all things to all people. Our main focus is on the affluent, mid-market consumer clients and SME businesses.
Q: How do you expect Sino-Dutch trade to grow?
A: In the first five months of 2007, China’s exports to and imports from the Netherlands grew 36% and 43%, respectively, compared to the same period in 2006, according to the Ministry of Commerce. I expect bilateral trade to continue to grow strongly over the next several years. Multinational banks, and ABN AMRO in particular, will continue to play a key role in facilitating trade and investment flows between the two countries.