China offers Cayman opportunities

The emergence of China on the global economic scene offers the Cayman Islands challenges as well as opportunities, says journalist and author Ted Fishman.

Mr. Fishman is one of the featured speakers at Wednesday’s Fidelity Cayman Business Outlook conference at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

Author of the book China, Inc., Mr. Fishman will tell the attendees of the conference how the dynamics in China will change the lives of people in other parts of the world, even in the Cayman Islands.

Speaking from Toronto in a telephone interview, Mr. Fishman said China could have a significant impact on Cayman.

‘There’s an enormous class of wealthy individuals in China,’ he said, noting that China could be a market for Cayman’s financial and corporate services.

With a population of more than 1.3 billion – representing more than 20 per cent of the entire world’s population – China has intrigued business-minded people and governments in the western world for centuries.

Mr. Fishman called those population numbers ‘jaw-dropping’ when looked at from marketing and labour standpoints.

Past political policies have isolated China, but that is changing, Mr. Fishman said.

‘(The Chinese Government) is going to every length to facilitate business, probably more than any country,’ he said.

The Chinese Government is also going to great lengths to manage the country’s political standing.

One roadblock in the past was language, but there’s a recent trend for the Chinese to learn English.

‘There are as many people learning to speak English as a second language in China as there are people speaking it as their first language in North America,’ he said.

The rest of the world has watched China’s emergence on the global scene with some uneasiness, Mr. Fishman said.

‘Western governments are very confused on how to respond to China,’ he said, noting the disparate opinions coming from the pro-business side as opposed to human rights advocates.

Mr. Fishman has written about how some of America’s most wealthy people, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, are investing heavily in China.

‘They think China is the wave of the future,’ he said.

Besides offering various financial services to the large group of wealthy Chinese, the Cayman’s Islands tourism sector could also benefit from China.

‘China will soon have more international tourists than any other country in the world,’ he said. ‘The Chinese are very curious about the rest of the world, and they’ve been denied access in the past, so there’s a lot of pent up demand.’

Mr. Fishman said the Chinese are especially interested in luxury travel, a market the Cayman Islands would like to attract.

On the flip side of the coin, China also offers a vast labour pool which could double the world’s labour supply if unleashed.

The focus of the 2005 Cayman Business Outlook is outsourcing, offshoring and the web-enabled global workforce, and how those trends will impact small island nations, and Mr. Fishman will also address some of those issues as they relate to China on Wednesday.