Opening its first branch in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, will help strengthen United Overseas Bank (China) Limited’s presence in South China and enable it to expand services to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, according to a senior company executive.

UOB (China), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Asia leading United Overseas Bank, officially opened its branch in Zhongshan last week.

It is the first branch in Zhongshan opened by a foreign bank and UOB’s seventh branch in the Greater Bay Area.

“The UOB Zhongshan Branch is an important addition to our network in the GBA and a testament to UOB’s efforts in enhancing connectivity between Greater China and Southeast Asia,” said Christine Ip, chief executive officer of UOB Greater China.

Zhongshan is a key transportation hub and an important node linking eastern and western cities in the GBA, bringing together cities along the west bank of the Pearl River where the manufacturing, information technology, oil and gas, and logistics sectors are booming.

With the GBA being an important link connecting countries involved in the Belt & Road Initiative, Zhongshan has recorded strong trade and investment flows with BRI countries.

The city’s outbound investment to BRI countries reached $430 million in 2018. In the first seven months of 2019, trade volume between Zhongshan and BRI countries increased 10.9 percent year-on-year to 34.3 billion yuan, according to the local government.

Among the city’s top trade partners are the ASEAN countries of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, located in a region where UOB has an extensive and longstanding presence.

“Together with our other branches and offices in the GBA, the UOB Zhongshan Branch will be able to assist more companies in the area to seize business opportunities arising from the GBA and the BRI’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” she said.

The new UOB Zhongshan Branch will tap the bank and UOB Group’s deep sector insights to provide businesses in the GBA with a comprehensive suite of domestic and cross-border financial services.

These include cash management, foreign exchange hedging, term loans, project and supply-chain financing, and foreign direct investment advisory services, according to Ip.