Around this time every year, Invest Hong Kong announces results of two surveys tracking the number of overseas and Chinese mainland companies and startups in Hong Kong. True to form, this year the results show that Hong Kong continues to attract more and more overseas and mainland companies and global startups. In fact, both surveys register record numbers.
The 2021 Annual Survey of Companies in Hong Kong with Parent Companies Located Outside Hong Kong shows unequivocally Hong Kong’s continued status
as a leading global business hub. The number of overseas and mainland companies in Hong Kong has increased by 10 percent since 2017 to a record 9,049 in 2021. The 9,049 companies comprised 1,457 operating as regional headquarters, 2,483 as regional offices and 5,109 as local offices.
You might ask why this is important. The answer is twofold. This investment is important to Hong Kong and the people of Hong Kong for generating some 473,000 jobs. Second, it adds to our economic mix.
The results say one thing loud and clear. Hong Kong continues to be a magnet for businesses and entrepreneurs from around the world. Contrary to what some commentators say, there is no factual evidence of an exodus of foreign companies. As every business and entrepreneur knows, it’s facts that count. … But we cannot and will not rest on our laurels. Our focus at InvestHK is on the future, and I think it is a very bright one
The investments come from all over the world, demonstrating Hong Kong’s continued wide appeal. Companies hail from 90 economies, spanning every continent. The mainland ranked first with 2,080 companies, followed by Japan (1,388), the United States (1,267), the United Kingdom (667) and Singapore (449). The largest volume of businesses by sector was import/export trade, wholesale and retail (4,294), followed by financing and banking (1,728) and professional, business and education services (1,361). But this is just part of the picture as Hong Kong continues to evolve into an international tech hub.
In another of our annual surveys, the 2021 Annual Startup Survey, we see signs of the changing shape of the Hong Kong economy, especially the growth in innovation and technology. This survey captures the vibrant and fast-growing startup scene. And here is another record! The number of startups has increased by an impressive 68.5 percent since 2017 to 3,755 in 2021. These startups also create jobs — many tech-related — standing at another record of 13,804, up 118 percent on 2017. The sectors these startups are in span a wide range of business sectors, such as financial technology, e-commerce, supply chain management and logistics technology, as well as professional or consultancy services. And biotech and life sciences is an area on the rise.
The results say one thing loud and clear. Hong Kong continues to be a magnet for businesses and entrepreneurs from around the world. Contrary to what some commentators say, there is no factual evidence of an exodus of foreign companies. As every business and entrepreneur knows, it’s facts that count.
But we cannot and will not rest on our laurels. Our focus at InvestHK is on the future, and I think it is a very bright one. Let me share why I think so. First is the growing array of opportunities open to businesses in and via Hong Kong. Second is what I and my colleagues hear from businesses around the world — their confidence and keen interest in our city remain high.
Our future, in the words of Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, is one of unlimited opportunities. Companies can not only capture the vibrant Hong Kong market but at the same time expand to the rest of China, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and scale to the world.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s recent Policy Address sets out a bold vision for Hong Kong. We have already shared with many businesses around the world its commercial highlights. Indeed, I would say it’s a “must-read” together with the suite of supporting materials. Hong Kong’s role under the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will open up an array of new opportunities. Add to that, the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone will provide even more new opportunities. Furthermore, increasing investment and trade flow between the GBA and ASEAN in wake of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership also promises another high-potential growth area.
So, with all these opportunities, are the mainland and overseas companies interested? The answer is a resounding yes! In our day-to-day contact with so many companies around the world, we consistently hear that they are very keen in setting up or expanding their operations in Hong Kong.
That is why, without a shadow of doubt, our future really is one of unlimited possibilities.
The author is director-general of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong. InvestHK is the department of the Hong Kong SAR government that supports mainland and international businesses to set up and grow in and via Hong Kong.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.