The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) today opened its Representative Office for Asia and the Pacific in Hong Kong. This is the first overseas office for the BIS. It will serve as a regional centre for the activities of the BIS in Asia.
Through the establishment of this office, the BIS aims to strengthen further the relations between the BIS and central banks and monetary authorities in the region, to improve the exchange of information and data, to facilitate the organisation of meetings and seminars and to contribute generally to cooperation among central banks and monetary authorities. The BIS has previously operated only from its headquarters in Basle, Switzerland.
The opening ceremony, which was held today at the Representative Office, was attended by central bank governors of the major industrial and other regional economies, and by representatives of the host country authorities.
Mr. Alfons Verplaetse, BIS President and Governor of the National Bank of Belgium, welcomed guests and expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, the People's Bank of China and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) for their support in establishing the new office.
The ceremony was followed by a reception at the Government House, with Mr. Tung Chee Hwa, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, as guest of honour.
"The timing of this BIS initiative is very fortuitous because Asia is facing a very challenging time after the havoc with the Asian currency crisis over the past twelve months," said Mr. Tung.
"I believe that the BIS, with its expertise and physical presence in this geographical hub of Asia, should play an important role in strengthening the financial systems in Asia during the recovery period," he added.
Mr. Donald Tsang, the Financial Secretary, said in his remarks at the opening ceremony that the BIS Representative Office in Hong Kong underlines the strategic location of Hong Kong in the region and the attractions in telecommunication and financial infrastructure that Hong Kong can offer as an international financial centre.
"The past 12 months have been a difficult period for Asia. I can see a challenging and crucial role for the BIS in helping to provide sound policy advice and bring into Asia valuable international experience and expertise. This would help Asia strengthen its financial sectors, develop the financial infrastructure, and restore financial stability in this region," he added.
Mr. Joseph Yam, Chief Executive of the HKMA, said, "the HKMA will maintain a close working relationship with the BIS regional office to promote international standards and best practices among the central banking community in Asia."
The office and its staff of six are headed by Mr. George Pickering, the Chief Representative.
The BIS, founded in 1930, is an international financial organisation with a membership of 45 shareholding central banks. Its main objective is to provide a forum for international monetary and financial cooperation.