International trade Essay

This essay has a total of 2837 words and 15 pages.

international trade


Hong Kong, the pearl of Asia has been the center of trade and
finance in Asia since the early 20th century. In a short
history of about 150 years, Hong Kong has become the source of
growth for many nearby economies. In a certain sense, it can be
even said that it is a merchant city founded and managed by
Traditional "hongs" or trade houses of Hong Kong were the
pillar of the economy. Jardine Matheson and Hutchison were
major hongs that led the economy and the Hong Kong & Shanghi
Bank were the financier of these hongs and has today grown to
become one of the largest bank in the world. These firms were
the critical factors of the growth for Hong Kong's economy.
Their role however has changed overtime. They are no longer the
de facto leaders of Hong Kong as they were in the mid 1800's.
Their role has diminished as Hong Kong grew to become more
international, and the 1997 handover to the People's Republic of
China has further altered their position. Some hongs that
adapted well to the changing times prospered while others either
went bankrupt or become stagnant.

Background on Hong Kong Economy

The territory of Hong Kong is located at the mouth of the Pearl
River, a little southwest of the Guangdong Province of the PRC.
Hong Kong was ceded to the British after the Opium War in 1842.
Many believe that the British hongs were behind lobbying the
British government into fighting the Chinese Government and the
settlement of the island. Kowloon was annexed in 1860, and the
New territories were leased for 99 years in 1898.
In 1984, the British and the PRC government agreed that Hong
Kong as a whole would return to Chinese soverienty in 1997.
However, a system of one country two systems were also agreed
upon where Hong Kong would retain its status as a free port,
with it's laws remaining unchanged for 50 years. It's main
emphasis is to preserve Hong Kong's laws and economic freedom,
thus to enhance the position of Hong Kong as a economic center.
The Large British owned hongs were originally trade and
warehouse companies established by the British in the early days
of Hong Kong colonialism, they have since grown in to major
commerical conglomerates. They hold interest in cargo handling,
manufacturing, real estate, and even retailing. They are the
engine of the Hong Kong economy. Since Britain took over the
port city in 1842 to use as a gateway to the Chinese markets,
the business of Hong Kong had been business, and the power was
held by the hongs. The first traditional hong was the Jardine
Matheson. It was once seen to be more influential than the
colonial government but nowadays it has become a minor player
compared to Li Ka Shing's Hutchision Whampoa. Li Ka Shing, the
Chairman or "Taipan" of Hutchision Whampoa, became the first
Chinese to own a traditional hong. Li's drive and business
ability helped foster Hutchision into a global conglomerate.
Hong Kong Bank grew from a small trader's bank into one of the
Top ten banks in the world today.

Jardine Matheson

Jardine, Matheson & Co. was founded by 2 Scottish merchants,
William Jardine and James Matheson in Guangdong in 1832. It was
an opium trader that were the pioneers into the China trade.
Eventually James Matheson takes control from 1836. It played a
key role in the founding of Hong Kong and became the first to
purchase land from the colonial government in 1842. Jardine
expanded into other trade products in other Asian countries like
Japan and South East Asian countries and also enters the
ship/cargo handling industry and the real estate business.
After World War II, Jardine moved their head office from
Shanghi back to Hong Kong and it offically goes public in the
Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1961. The 1970's saw Jardine
forming many ventures and aquisitions such as the joint venture
with the Robert Fleming of UK to create the Jardine Fleming &
Co., a holding company the aquires many foreign and local firms
and diversifies Jardine's business.
The mid- 1980's saw some mismanagments and misguided
aquisition especially after the 1984 Sino-British announcement
on the return of Hong Kong. Jardine wanted to diversify more
abroad in fear of the Chinese takeover because their relations
with the PRC was not good. It aquired the British construction
giant Trafalgar House and ther various retail chains in Europe
so that Jardine could emphasize more in Europe, but these
investments would turnout to be disappointing in the future.
The current taipan, or CEO is Alasdair Morrison. He has tried
to undo many past mistakes and to rejuvenate the 160 year old
hong. Morrison has sold off many losing companies and has a
greater emphasis on profitability. The management has been
changed to more aggresive and experienced managers such as
Ronald J. Floto who previously worked as Kmart Corp. and is
known for his turn-around ability. But most importantly,

Morrsion has been trying to improve ties with Beijing. He
realises that the China market as an indespenable location and
has tried repeatly to mend the differences made by the previous
Today, the Jardine Matheson group is a multinational
enterprise that operates in over 30 countries and employs some
160,000 people. It is divided into eight core companies :
Jardine Pacific(general trading), Jardine International
Motors(Car dealership), Jardine Fleming, Jardine Lloyd
Thompsion(Insurance), Jardine Strategic, Dairy Farm(supermarket
and convenience stores), Hong Kong Land(Commerical property),
and the Mandarin Oriental(luxury hotel chain) .
Last year's sales were US$11.2 billion and a operating profit
of US$190 million was made. The profits fell 34% from last
year, and share prices have fallen almost 60% since it moved its
primary listing from Hong Kong to Singapore.
The main problem with Jardine is that it needs to use its large
cash resources to boost market shares in existing profitable
businesses and make aquistions in core business while assests in
Asia are still cheap from the Asian crisis. It also needs to
refocus on Asia, because it is where it's main expertise and
connections are, but the controlling family, the Keswicks with
only a 4.9% share are reluctant to invest heavily back to Asia
and especially China. The Keswicks have held control through
cross ownership to build a financial defense against hostile
takeovers. Li Ka Shing has tried but failed to take over
Jardines in 1988 but many still believe that Li has not given up
but is rather waiting for an opportunity.
Although the current taipan, Morrison is trying to shape up
Jardine again, many are doubtful as long as the Keswicks still
retain the controlling shares. Jardine Matheson has had a
astonishing past, but many fear that the golden days of the past
are over for them.

Hutchison Whampoa

John D. Hutchison Company was founded in 1828. Being one of
the first major traditional hongs in Hong Kong, it had made vast
investments in port facilities and other infrastructure
projects in the colony. In the 1960's, in an effort to
revitalize the hong, John Douglas Clague, the last British CEO
of Hutchision made huge investments in not only in Hong Kong but
also abroad.
It reoragnized itself to the Hutchision International and up
til the early 1970's, many believed that Hutchision would indeed
make a comeback as a dominant firm in the colony. However,
losses started to occur from 1973, and being overstretched and
short in liquidity it lost the favors from its investors and
creditors(most importantly the Hong Kong Shanghi Bank).
Eventually the Hong Kong Bank would step in to take up 33% of
Hutchision International and within 2 years merge with a
subsidary, the Whampoa Dock Company and create the Hutchision
Whampoa. Hong Kong Bank was looking for a suitable investor to
take over the pre-opium war hong and eventually they chose a
rising real estate tycoon, Li Ka Shing.
There are many reasons that Hong Kong Bank chose Li Ka Shing,
but two reasons stand out the most, His reputation as a honest
and able businessman and his contacts with the government in
Today, Hutchison Whampoa has grown into one of Hong Kong's
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