Belt and Road Initiative important to multinationals: WPP CEO

Initiatives like China's Belt and Road are really important for the future growth of multinationals and their clients, the CEO of a leading global advertising company told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"The next billion middle-class consumers are not going to come from the United States or Western Europe. They're going to come from Asia, from Latin America, from Africa, the Middle East and from South, Central and Eastern Europe," said Martin Sorrell, CEO of London-based multinational advertising and public relation company WPP.

"So, initiatives like the Belt and Road are really important for our company and our clients," he added.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes and promote common development among all countries involved.

For the advertising and marketing services industry, the dominant growth engines in 2017 are United States and China, said Sorrell, adding that China - including Hong Kong and Taiwan - is WPP's third largest market, accounting for about US$1.6 billion of revenues out of the US$26 billion in total and 14,000 workers out of approximately 200,000.

"Growth has plateaued in the last two to three years and 2017 looks like another year of modest growth in comparison to the growth that we've seen in previous years going back beyond 2015 to earlier times. However, we remain unabashed bulls on China and the Chinese economy," he said, describing the Chinese market as "a really important part of our company."

Meanwhile, he noted that the United States remains the biggest economy in the world and WPP's largest market, accounting for about US$6.5 billion of the group's 2016 revenues.

"America will always be important in our strategy whether it's Buy America First, Buy America or Hire America, but the other markets of the world, particularly post-Brexit, are becoming even more important, too," he said.

"So, our focus remains on Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Central and Eastern Europe, which is already one third of our business. We want them to be 45 percent," he added.

Commenting on the upcoming meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump, Sorrell said he hopes the two leaders will establish a strong relationship and the two largest economies in the world will strengthen rather than weaken their ties.

Should there be a trade war between the United States and China, it would "not be helpful, to say the least," he warned.

Editor: lishen