Free seminar to examine post-Brexit opportunities in China and Hong Kong

River Huangpu in Shanghai

If you’re in the UK on Thursday 8 June, there is one event that you can’t afford to miss if you have an interest in Brexit. Perhaps two if you include the General Election.

A free seminar networking event for businesses in Gloucestershire and surrounding areas aims to shed light on how businesses in Britain can take advantage of the current golden opportunities to enter China and Hong Kong markets.

Hosted by culture experts Join in China, the seminar will feature top speakers, including a Minister Counsellor from the Chinese Embassy and government representatives from Hong Kong and the UK.

The event will be held at Hartpury College, Gloucester, 9am – 2pm, meaning that you will still have time to dash to the polling booth to cast your vote (or spoil your paper, if you think a hastily called election is a load of ballots). You can register your interest here.

Professional leaves Brexit Britain – and tells world on LinkedIn

Hong Kong skyline

A while back I suggested that it’s better to be bold amidst so much Brexit confusion, and it looks as if a Millennial worker from the UK is being precisely that – making his own way, whether PM May has a full Brexit mandate or none.

In an engaging LinkedIn piece that has racked up 7,500 views, Jon Davies (who like me went to school in Berkshire, though that’s where the similarities end) described how he packed his belongings into a 30kg case and left for Hong Kong – without a new job lined up.

At 8:10 tonight the wheels of Cathay Pacific flight CX256 to Hong Kong will leave the tarmac of Heathrow airport and my own Brexit will be complete. Now that Article 50 has been triggered it feels there is little upside for a young person with ambition to stay in a country that will be embroiled in great uncertainty for the next 2 years at least.

In the first Brexit postcard from Hong Kong of what might become several LinkedIn Pulse posts on his settling in as an expat, Jon, a City professional, shared his diligent approaches towards finding opportunities (I’m not convinced personally that life is better with Excel, Jon, but I admire your efficiency!):

Create a master contacts/opportunities spreadsheet. A CRM tool if you will. Let’s face it life is just better with a master spreadsheet. That is already done. Fire out emails to all existing contacts on the ground in Hong Kong to get the networking ball rolling.

Is there anyone out there planning a similar move? I’d be interested in hearing from you!

Beyond Brexit: global opportunities in China and Southeast Asia

Article 50 has been triggered and the UK is now on the long road to Brexit nirvana, whatever that looks like.

The path ahead is more likely to be one of those twisty-turny, gut-wrenching mountain roads than the fast lane of a motorway, with no clear vision of where the final post-Brexit destination will be, when this fabled destination will be reached, or even if the Brexit bus will arrive in one piece. It might lose a wing mirror – or worse.

As familiar pastures recede into the distance, the Brexit bus will climb higher through the mist, and the air temperature will drop a little. There will be signs of ice. Mountain goats from the past will clatter down the rocks from their lofty perch to butt in the conversation, though unlikely to topple the Brexit bus altogether.

Bus on a mountain road

Despite the uncertainty, or perhaps because of it, old symbols from the past will be revived. There is talk of the navy British passport coming back (though a passport cover is just as effective; mine is black – which is neither blue nor burgundy, and frankly no one in the world cares what colour the British passport is). Bizarrely and worryingly, there are growing tensions over Gibraltar.

But we can’t go back to 1982. Looking past the cranks and the hotheads on both sides of the Brexitian fence, there are intriguing global opportunities to explore for UK-based Brits and EU citizens alike – and where better to begin than in today’s most exciting “emerging” markets in East Asia.

China

Relations between Britain and China have come a long way in recent years, which is just as well, as good terms will likely come in handy. There is much talk of a “golden era”, symbolised by President Xi and then British PM David Cameron enjoying a bilateral pint down the pub in late 2015 before the cameras (Green King IPA sales later went through the roof in China and the pub was bought by the Chinese).

The Chinese premier later participated in a photo op with Cameron and Man City’s star striker Sergio Aguero in what was arguably the most surreal selfie in modern times. It’s fair to say that he is still going strong, while Cameron and Aguero have been sidelined, with more than one goal missed…

China and Britain have since made a fresh commitment to promote free trade as both countries speed up efforts to start the golden era for real, according to Xinhua, and there are indications that things are taking off.

Taking off literally in the case of the new flights announced in March from London to Guangzhou and Manchester to Beijing. Meanwhile a delegation of 60 high-net-worth entrepreneurs from China will be visiting London in June to seek opportunities for investment and partnerships with British SMEs.

But let’s focus on everyday people.

Young Brits are already doing incredible things in China. Leading the way in telling their story is the British Council, who interviewed Christopher Colman, a young British animator who moved to China upon graduation, and published a piece by British fashion designer Stephanie Lawson on launching a brand in China and “surviving”.

An earlier article tells of an English language assistant in China who had come up with a sustainable bamboo clothing and accessories brand, Mabboo, in between classes and plans to take it global.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia, the most eclectic of regions, has traditionally offered something for everyone over the decades, from bankers to beachgoers. In global terms, it’s growing in influence: Asean is now the UK’s 8th biggest export market worth $17.4 billion in 2015, more than twice the value of UK shipments to India.

With a rapidly evolving landscape, Southeast Asia looks same same, but different. Hubs like Singapore no longer have such a commanding appeal in the region, though the resilient Lion City will continue to roar as always.

Indonesia

Take Indonesia, for example, one of the “BRICS” when the term was still popular. A strategic partner of the UK, the sprawling archipelago is the world’s fourth most populous country and expected by PwC to jump from 8th to 4th biggest global economy by 2050.

With 80 million social media users, the nation is among the biggest users of Facebook and Twitter in the world. Jakarta itself is said to be the Twitter capital of the world – take that, London.

Jakarta and Bali have thriving coworking scenes. and In Jakarta, for example, a coworking space called Jakarta Smart City Hive (JSCHive) was built by the city administration and EV Hive to support digital startups. Bali in particular is a big draw for digital nomads, attracted to its spiritual vibe and charm. Hubud and Coworkation are just two among several coworking options that have surfaced in recent years.

Malaysia

Hopping now across the Straits of Malacca (mind the container ship), where Malaysia is also of special interest to the UK. In recent days both countries affirmed their commitment to enhancing ties post-Brexit.

One of Southeast Asia’s more alluring countries (I have my own special relationship with their culture), Malaysia has compelling tech opportunities in Kuala Lumpur and vibrant northern neighbour Penang. Jobbatical frequently advertises opportunities with Malaysian startups.

If you are still studying, good news – KL is the most affordable city in the world for students, according to the annual QS Best Student Cities 2017.

Another hop, though technically two – one across the mountains and another across the sea – will take you to mystical Borneo. Kuching, a tranquil city not far from Singapore, has been described as “the next Chiang Mai“, Asia’s digital nomad hotspot, and the famous laksa isn’t bad either.

Thailand

Which must make Chiang Mai the next Bangkok. Possibly. Thailand’s cultural capital is a magnet for location independent workers, and it’s not difficult to see why, with its food scene, quality of life and affordability. Nomad List ranks Chiang Mai top worldwide for remote workers.

Koh Lanta, near Krabi in Thailand’s south, takes the idyll a step further – unlike Bali and Chiang Mai, KoHub remote workers can enjoy mile after mile of golden sand.

But Thailand appeals even if you’re not a digital nomad. In recent days it was announced that the Thai government is offering British expats a 20 year residency permit. The package, which costs £481 pounds a year on top of a £48,138 one-off fee, will include a VIP fast track on matters relating to driving licence, work permit and immigration.

Two decades might be excessive for some, A 10 year permit is also available for £24,066, in addition to an annual fee, and a 5 year permit is available for £12,033.

The Thai government agency, speaking to the Press Association, explains:

I think that Brexit will give us an opportunity to even open more, or to introduce Thailand even on a broader scale … you can live in Thailand for up to 20 years if you’d like to, therefore it would be a good opportunity for both countries, in terms of UK people and the Thai people.

What have I missed?

*update* 
“We don’t need Brexit to do this. Germany exports more to China than we do. EU not holding us back.” Agree?

London and Manchester fall down cost of living rankings because of Brexit

Thames and London Eye

Eyeing a move to Britain? London has fallen 18 places down the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living index. The 2017 report shows the UK capital at its lowest position in two decades, to now rank 24th – and Brexit is seen as the cause.

It’s a seismic and symbolic difference; 20 years ago the nation was entering a new era through Blair and Britpop (make of that what you will). Manchester showed an even bigger fall in its cost of living –  the biggest registered in the report – of 25 places to 51st. This may or may not influence foreign players mulling over a Premier League move (the city’s rain might be more a decisive factor).

Singapore meanwhile remains the most expensive city of the 133 measured worldwide by the EIU survey. This makes it marginally more expensive than regional rival Hong Kong and a whopping 20% pricier than New York.

The little red dot and Hong Kong are joined by other Asian cities in the top 10, with Tokyo and Osaka moving up because of the yen, and Seoul continuing to climb the rankings. Incredibly, the Korean metropolis was ranked 50th for Cost of Living just seven years ago:

However, the report also showed that not all Asian cities suffered the same fate. Five cities in China – Beijing, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Dalian – were among the leading ten cities with the biggest fall in ranking over the past 12 months.

As for the opposite end of the scale, Kazakhstan’s Almaty is the cheapest city in the world. The bottom 10 in cost of living includes four cities in India: Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi.

While several of these inexpensive locations are also popular expat destinations, for example Mumbai, the EIU glumly notes that “cheaper cities tend also to be less liveable”.  Statistically speaking, that may well be true, but not all situations are equal. Mumbai is known for its inequality gap – it’s very liveable for some.

Recruitment website, Expatexit, launched for Brexit professionals

The Shard, London

It’s mid-February and Brexit remains a complicated picture. As previously stated on this website, it’s better to be proactive about things rather than wait for an outcome beyond our control. Uncertainty is the new normal – and we had all better get used to it.

Which is presumably why hundreds of UK-based workers are reportedly voting with their feet by signing up for global opportunities through a new recruitment website.

The platform, Expatexit, was launched by Polish entrepreneur Marcin Czyza (who has never worked or lived in the UK) with the aim of helping professionals affected by Brexit to find jobs in other countries. As the website explains, through fairly antagonistic language:

High costs of living? Far away from family and friends? Unfriendly atmosphere? Does this sound familiar? If the only reason for you to stay in the United Kingdom is your job, we have the perfect solution for you. Just register on our website, create your profile and indicate where would like to work. It doesn’t matter if it is your home town or an exotic destination where you were always dreaming of living. Our job is to contact all potential employers at the location of your choice. Just give yourself a chance !

But there are also British workers registering through the platform, which is no bad thing for their career prospects – or even the UK’s prospects, as trade deals are sought around the world. The likes of Sir Martin Sorrell and the British Council have recently encouraged young workers to get China experience, Brexit or not.

Perhaps leaving the EU will prove a jolt or an awakening of sorts, pointing us in new directions in ways unexpected.