Bank of China
SME Cross-Border Trade and Investment Matching

Building a Bridge between China and the Philippines


The Pledge to Invest

Despite being the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner, China has been at odds with the country, most recently because of the West Philippine Sea. In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte sought to normalize relations and came back with a pledge from Beijing to invest $24 billion in the nation. As the investment arm of the world’s most populous country, the Bank of China (BoC) was tasked to build a bridge of peace with trade and investment.

As a first step to fulfill this commitment, the Bank of China decided to bring its globally successful SME Cross-Border Matchmaking Service to the Philippines. This was the first time that the Chinese bank will be hosting this event in the country.

Unlike traditional modes of inviting investments, the BoC’s matchmaking service uses an innovative mode of “one-to-one” or “one-to-more” negotiations and connections to efficiently facilitate compensation and the transfer of market resources between countries. The Philippine event sought to gather Chinese and Filipino businessmen under one roof to forge business linkages, create opportunities for further relations, and highlight the bank’s mission to be a bridge for Chinese and Philippine trade and investment.

Creating an Experience for business

But for linkages and opportunities to open, the event needed to create an experience that fosters business cooperation between the two nations. To succeed in this endeavor and to raise awareness in the business community, Bank of China needed a reliable local partner. After careful consideration, it chose M2.0 Communications to handle manpower, logistics, event management, and PR because of its stellar reputation and its integrated PR and events services.

As the M2.0 team knew, building an experience begins with the people. The participants – businessmen, investors, and SMEs – have very little tolerance for incompetence. The events team sought to recruit bright and personable minds to help the attendees during the event. Although not required, the team sought to sprinkle the guest-facing manpower with Chinese speakers, aside from the interpreters, to make the foreign businessmen feel more welcome.

Since first impressions last, the events team also decided to streamline the registration process. Instead of tediously slow pen and paper, tablets were used for check-in, which automated the procedure for attendance and database-building for the eventual business matching. Registration assistants were at hand to help if necessary.

To highlight Bank of China’s role in promoting trade, a History Wall and Continuing Partnership Board were envisioned to greet the guests. The Wall was designed to reflect the success of BoC’s previous business matching efforts in other countries while the Board encouraged participants to drop and exchange their business cords.

A great deal of thought was poured into the table centerpieces since these items would constantly be under the participants gaze. To promote cultural exchange and interest in local products, the team decorated them with piña cloth table runners, jeepney miniature replicas, and national flags.

The program was developed jointly by BoC and M2.0 to ensure smooth operation during the event.

As the event preparations went into full swing, the M2.0 PR team also went full steam into inviting its media network to cover this momentous event.

The Day of the Results

When March 18, 2017 arrived, the Manila Hotel was packed with guests for the SME Cross-Border Trade and Investment Matching. Over 600 MSME’s from the Philippines and China attended. Registration was swamped but the preparations and smart staff ensured that participants didn’t wait too long at the front.

The History Wall turned into a photo opportunity which the guests gladly took. The Continuing Partnership Board was also a hit, as participants eagerly dropped their business cards.

The experience of the event hugely encouraged partnership and cooperation. Of the 300 meetings that took place, 77 percent have already reached fruitful business agreements – agreements that would eventually create jobs and increase the national wealth in the near future.

The media avidly covered the successful proceedings. Leading publications and broadcast stations, such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippine Star, the Manila Bulletin, DZRH, and CNN, sent representatives to report on BoC’s efforts. It wasn’t just the participants who understood the amount of trade and investment being built; soon the entire Philippines knew that the Bank of China was bringing tons of business between the two nations as the story spread in newspapers, online media, radio, and TV.

The BoC’s first steps to fulfill its country’s commitment were recognized as a success. With the momentum produced by the positive reception and eagerness of the Filipino business community and public, the bank is set to continue to build economic bridges and mutual prosperity between the two nations.