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Bridge China and the Netherlands for the common good

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-06-08 09:37

Bank of China office building in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The Bank of China branch in the Netherlands will celebrate its 15th anniversary in July 2022. The story of its success started in July 2007, when Bank of China (Europe) S.A. Rotterdam Branch (previously referred to as Bank of China (Luxembourg) S.A. Rotterdam Branch, or 'the Bank' hereinafter), was officially opened in the Netherlands. The Bank is authorized to operate in the Netherlands through an EU license. While being the first Chinese financial institution established in the Netherlands, it is also the first cross-border branch established by BOC (Europe). The Dutch Central Bank (De Nederlandsche Bank, 'DNB') performs liquidity and integrity supervision.

The Bank is based in a strategic location in Rotterdam, the second-largest city in the Netherlands, which is also home to the largest port in Europe. At the beginning of the 21st century, Sino-European trade grew rapidly, and the Rotterdam Port prospered. At that time, more than one-third of the containers handled by the Rotterdam Port came from China. The Netherlands is one of the most competitive and stable economies in the world, with triple-A as one of the highest sovereign credit ratings. In 2021, the aggregated GDP was USD 914 billion, and the Netherlands became the second-largest exporter to China after Germany amongst the EU member states. In the same year, the bilateral trade volume between China and the Netherlands amounted to USD 116.4 billion. The leading sectors are shipping, aviation, logistics, electronics, chemicals, water conservancy, food processing industries, and the export of agricultural products which ranks second in the world. The financial and insurance sectors are also prosperous and profitable. As such, more Chinese enterprises have established their EU regional headquarters in the Netherlands in recent years.

Since its opening 15 years ago, the Bank built a financial bridge, actively served bilateral investment and trade, and played an essential role in promoting bilateral economic and trade between China and the Netherlands.

The Bank focuses on wholesale business with corporate customers and financial institutes, focusing on Chinese 'going global' enterprises, bilateral trade and investment-related enterprises, Fortune 500 companies, industry-leading enterprises, local high-quality family enterprises and industry's "hidden champions". It has a portfolio of clients such as high-tech manufacturing enterprise ASML, medical health leading company Philips, Royal aviation company KLM, Port of Rotterdam, new energy company BYD, and emerging industries such as green finance and sustainable development (ESG) companies, and Sino-Dutch bilateral trade and investment-related companies.

It helped the Dutch Central Bank DNB to invest into China through Bank of China's network, and set up good cooperation with ING, ABN AMRO, Rabobank and other local mainstream banks. The Bank also provides services to institutional customers such as insurance company AON, leading pension funds and administrators, including Aegon.

The range of its products continues to grow and provides an array of possibilities for the clients. The main products and services to corporate clients are syndicated loans, merger and acquisition deals, structured finance, and bilateral loan business. The Bank also provides transaction banking products such as letter of guarantee and letter of credit, supply chain finance, online banking, cross-border cash management, foreign exchange, and RMB business. Retail business is mainly aimed at the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands and Chinese enterprise customers, with its role of carrying out primary businesses such as deposit and foreign currency exchange.

Thanks to its capability of delivering all-round financial services to its clients, the Bank has achieved many fruitful results during the past years. For example, Bank of China provided syndication loans to KLM at the beginning of Pandemic, with a commitment of EUR 260 million, the same amount as the three largest Dutch banks. The successful formation of the syndicate helped KLM to withstand the difficult times.

Participating in the "Foodbank" donation activity in 2020 and 2021. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

At the same time, the Bank is actively engaged in addressing social responsibilities such as sustainable development, cultural exchange and made positive contributions to the development of Sino-Dutch relations. The Bank implemented the corporate culture construction plan of Bank of China Group, and held a series of "cross-cultural exchange" themed activities.

Mrs. Lilian Jiang, the general manager of the Bank, provided Cross-cultural communication series training of eight "basic management skills" lectures in 2020, and held three "cross-cultural communication" training workshops in 2021. The training raised employees' awareness of cultural differences, strengthened cross-cultural communication, realized the organic integration of different cultures, and formed a joint force of cultural construction.

Since this year, the Bank has provided Dutch language learning courses for Chinese employees and Chinese language courses for local employees who do not speak Chinese. More than 20 colleagues enthusiastically signed up for the courses. Classes are divided according to their language levels. Interesting classroom interaction and vivid language explanation have stimulated great learning enthusiasm of the Bank's colleagues, and everyone actively spent their lunch break on weekdays participating in the training. Two Dutch employees participated in Chinese training courses, and every time they expressed their thoughts in Chinese, they were warmly praised by their Chinese colleagues.

Recently, the Bank has formulated and implemented the 'Action Guidelines for Low-carbon and Environmental-friendly Office'. The Guidelines include 38 specific action initiatives such as renting office buildings to achieve Class A energy-saving standards, saving electricity, water and paper, saving heating and cooling, sorting and recycling garbage, and green transportation for staff.

The Bank participated in the Rotterdam Mini-Marathon Activity to help fight cancer. On April 9, 2022, the Bank organized Chinese and foreign colleagues and their family members to participate in the NN Anti-cancer Mini Marathon in Rotterdam. The relevant registration fees would be donated to the local anti-cancer foundation.

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