Labuan hits the road to woo Chinese businesses

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The Labuan International Business and Financial Centre  is embarking on a roadshow at the end of this month that will look to attract Chinese businesses to make use of its facilities and services, as part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road economic initiative.

The One Belt, One Road strategy seeks to rebuild and reinforce ties between a loose federation of countries and economies that once comprised what was known in previous centuries as the Eurasian Silk Road trading route, and create fresh economic bridges between China and its central Asia, eastern Europe, south-east Asia and Indian neighbours.

Labuan, an archipelago off the coast of Malaysia, is home to a Malaysian government-backed economic area and free trade zone that was first launched in 1990.

It seeks to capitalise on its position between India and Asia, by promoting itself as a convenient place in which to do business across the region.

It’s this location that Labuan IBFC will be seeking to promote to Chinese businesses at the OBOR Roadshows, according to an informational package about the roadshow that has been made available to the media.

The roadshow will include a series of events scheduled to take place between 30 October and 5 November in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

Farah Jaafar-Crossby, marketing and communications director at Labuan IBFC, pictured above left, described the initiative  as creating opportunities for the centre to “mediate regional investment and fund flows”.

She said that Labuan could uniquely provide “the promise of growth to Greater Asia while realising Labuan IBFC’s and Malaysia’s full potential as a regional hub”.

‘Kuala Lumpur’s IoM’

While the analogy isn’t perfect, Labuan’s role as a financial centre, relative to the more established Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur, has been likened to that of the Isle of Man’s relationship to the  City of London.

It was first designated an “international financial centre” by Malaysia some 27 years ago, but it was in 2008 that the Labuan IBFC was created, located in the city of Victoria on Labuan Island and overseen by the Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA).

In addition to Labuan Island, the Labuan archipelago is comprised of six smaller islands, and is located off the coast of the East Malaysian state of Sabah.

As well as its role in the financial services industry, Labuan is known for tourism and as a support hub for deepwater oil and gas activities.