Shortly before the National Day, it was most fitting that on Sept 27, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po launched the “Report on Hong Kong’s Business Environment: A Place with Unique Advantages and Unlimited Opportunities”.
As businesses around the world look to secure growth opportunities after the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report could not be timelier. It sets out clearly the exciting opportunities in Hong Kong for international and Chinese mainland businesses. At the same time, the report sets the record straight about various misconceptions of Hong Kong because of biased reporting in some quarters. It is a must-read for businesses.
Since the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, the “one country, two systems” principle has been the cornerstone of our economic development, underpinning our institutional strengths which are so favorable for doing business. These strengths, coupled with many other advantages, provide the basis for our competitiveness. They are why Hong Kong has thrived as an international center for finance, commerce and trade, a home for corporate headquarters, as well as a major hub of investment, transportation, and logistics.
The good news for Hong Kong and for businesses around the world is that the National Security Law for Hong Kong and the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” have effectively restored social stability and safeguarded the business environment in Hong Kong. Indeed, a wide range of international organizations recognize this, and foreign chambers of commerce here remain confident about the future
But we can’t ignore the reality that the Hong Kong economy was impacted by the social turmoil in 2019, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the actions of some countries. I would encourage business leaders to look at the facts in the report about the large-scale violence, the threats to national security, the challenges to the rule of law and how Hong Kong has been subject to unjustifiable measures by certain countries. After all, facts form the basis of sound investment and business decisions.
The good news for Hong Kong and for businesses around the world is that the National Security Law for Hong Kong and the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” have effectively restored social stability and safeguarded the business environment in Hong Kong. Indeed, a wide range of international organizations recognize this, and foreign chambers of commerce here remain confident about the future.
This leads me to the key message I want to convey: The future really is one of unlimited opportunities.
Of course, every business needs solid foundations. Hong Kong provides these with our robust, inherent strengths. These include the rule of law and judicial independence; the free flow of goods, capital, talent and information; a low and simple tax regime; our robust financial system; a sound regulatory framework; world-class infrastructure and digital facilities; our status as a free port; world-renowned dispute avoidance and resolution services; our wealth of talent; our position as Asia’s international and cosmopolitan city; our safe and quality environment conducive not only to work but also leisure and play. The list goes on, all underpinned by the unique advantages under “one country, two systems”.
But what about the unlimited opportunities? A good place to start is two key national polices.
First, the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) sets a clear positioning for the development of Hong Kong. It supports Hong Kong in consolidating and enhancing its status as an international financial, transportation and trade center, as well as a center for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, the plan supports Hong Kong’s development as an international aviation hub, an international innovation and technology hub, a regional intellectual property trading center, and a hub for arts and cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world.
The second is the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The Greater Bay Area city cluster, comprising Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in Guangdong province, is one of the world’s largest and most competitive bay areas, with a population of 86 million. With GDP at $1.67 trillion in 2020, it is about the same size as the world’s ninth-largest economy (Canada), and boasts a per capita GDP of close to $20,000. What’s more, it is a world-renowned base for production and exports, while its innovation and technology, and advanced services industries have developed rapidly, making it home to some of our country’s most innovative businesses. The Greater Bay Area is one of the most exciting economic development initiatives around the world, and I would argue too significant for any business to ignore.
More recently, the Plan for Comprehensively Deepening Reform and Opening-up of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone will provide even more new opportunities.
At InvestHK — as a department of the government of the HKSAR — our role is to help businesses and entrepreneurs from around the world set up and grow here in Hong Kong to seize these opportunities. In short, we aim to help them turn opportunity into reality. That is good for the businesses, and good for Hong Kong and the people of Hong Kong.
Telling the Hong Kong story is an integral part of our daily work at InvestHK. It is something I will never tire of and relish doing. Going forward, with the continued support of the central government, I see excellent prospects for Hong Kong’s economy. There is no doubt in my mind that Hong Kong and businesses in Hong Kong have a bright future.
As the whole of China, including Hong Kong, is celebrating the National Day, I and my colleagues in 31 locations across the world will take pride in telling the Hong Kong story, in the context of the Bay Area, our country and Asia. We will provide businesses with the support they need to set up and grow here in Hong Kong. The outcome is a positive impact for our economy, for our economic mix and for the jobs created for the people of Hong Kong. As the report says, “unique advantages and unlimited opportunities”.
The author is director-general of investment promotion at Invest Hong Kong.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.