HK's business environment brighter than ever with country's support

Editor’s note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today’s world. Stephen Phillips is director-general of investment promotion at Invest Hong Kong. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On September 27, Financial Secretary Paul Chan of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) launched the “Report on Hong Kong’s Business Environment: A Place with Unique Advantages and Unlimited Opportunities” (The Report).

As businesses around the world look to secure growth opportunities after the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report could not be more timely. It sets out clearly the exciting opportunities in Hong Kong for international and mainland businesses. At the same time, the report sets the record straight about various misconceptions of Hong Kong as a result of biased reporting in some quarters. It is a must-read for businesses.

Since the establishment of the HKSAR of the People’s Republic of China, “One Country, Two Systems” 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.

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 take a look at the facts in the report about the large-scale violence, the threats to national security, the challenges to rule of law and how Hong Kong has been subject to unjustifiable measures by certain countries. After all, the facts form the basis of sound investment and business decisions. 

The good news for Hong Kong and businesses around the world is the Hong Kong National Security Law 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 flows of goods, capital, talent and information; a low and simple tax regime; our robust financial system; sound regulatory frameworks; 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 leisure and play. The list goes on, all underpinned by the unique advantages under “One Country, Two Systems.”

A night view of Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong, south China, June 12, 2020. /Xinhua

A night view of Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong, south China, June 12, 2020. /Xinhua

But what about the unlimited opportunities? A good place to start is two key national policies.

First, the 14th Five-Year Plan 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 exchange between China and the rest of the world.

The second is the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). The GBA 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, whilst its innovation and technology and advanced services industries have developed rapidly, making it home to some of our country’s most innovative businesses. The GBA really 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 HKSAR government – our role is to help businesses and entrepreneurs from around the world to 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. 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.

I and my colleagues in 31 locations across the world will keep telling the Hong Kong story, in the context of the GBA, our country and Asia. We will provide businesses with the support they need to set up and grow here in Hong Kong. The end result is a positive impact for our economy, for our economic mix and for the jobs created for the people of Hong Kong, and as the report says, “unique advantages and unlimited opportunities.”

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)

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