HK to restore harmony

Financial Secretary John Tsang

I set up a Facebook account on the eve of the last Budget Speech, hoping that its contents could be presented to the wider community through a channel that was popular among young people in order to help broaden and rejuvenate my communication with the public. Social media enables me from another perspective to observe people’s daily lives and to hear their voices, including messages that cannot be accessed through traditional media and views that have not been captured by the mainstream. In the past year, I have gained a much deeper appreciation for the current state of play.

 

I believe that many of you would share my feeling that tension and turbulence are mounting in Hong Kong. Many of us feel suffocated by and, indeed, helpless with the tiresome confrontations day in and day out. This highly charged atmosphere has continued to deteriorate since the unlawful occupy movement a year and a half ago, even after the defeat of the constitutional reform package. Confrontations have not eased, and worse still, our society has become even more polarised. Political disputes are spreading both inside and outside the Council Chambers, setting off a spiral of intensifying struggle between rival factions. Calm and rational discussions no longer have a place in this Council. There is not even room for dialogue in our society.

 

As a member of the Hong Kong community, I am deeply troubled by the current situation. What we are facing today is the result of a raft of intricately-related factors. We need to look squarely at these factors in resolving the differences and, more importantly, we need to have the determination to resolve these conflicts. If we should allow the situation to get worse, what lies in store for Hong Kong will be even greater chaos, and our future generations will grow up in the midst of hatred and malice.

 

A statesman once said, “Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by man.” For the problems of Hong Kong, they cannot be solved by anyone else except ourselves. As long as everyone is willing to set aside short-term political considerations in favour of the long-term overall interests of Hong Kong, we shall have a chance to return to rationality. It is a long journey. We must be patient and persevere in helping our community to heal, one step at a time.

 

The road trodden by the people of Hong Kong has been thorny and winding. Our journey has been fraught with wars, poverty, epidemics, economic recessions and financial crises. In spite of all these scourges and storms, we have always been able to find a way out; and the experience gained over the years has enabled our economy to progress, our system to become more refined, and our society more diverse.

 

Looking back on the road that we have travelled, I believe we have both the ability and the wisdom to cope with the problems that we are facing today. I also believe that one day we can break the deadlock. When the storms are over, we shall cherish all the more the harmonious and cohesive society that we have restored.

 

Last year, throughout their World Cup qualifying campaign, the Hong Kong team and their fans had never for a second lost hope in the face of strong competition. I remember clearly the evening match against Qatar. Although falling behind by three goals, our team and their fans remained united, and persisted to mount a comeback scoring two goals in the final five minutes. We lost the match, but the never-say-die spirit that they exhibited won the hearts of our city. To Hong Kong, this very match has taken on a significance beyond victory and defeat. It has led me to believe that, with our love for Hong Kong, we are able to overcome any challenge ahead of us, no matter how difficult it is.

 

These are the concluding remarks made by Financial Secretary John Tsang in his 2016-17 Budget speech.

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Salvation Army reliable Gov’t partner

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

Last December, the Government launched the five-month “Appreciate Hong Kong” Campaign, which aims to serve as a platform for co-operation among different sectors to organise and launch various activities and projects that will encourage the public to appreciate Hong Kong more, as sometimes we tend to take things for granted.

 

But what warrants a much deeper appreciation is the decades of service rendered by the Salvation Army to the people of Hong Kong. With almost 80 social services units, 33 schools and nurseries, 17 churches, one outpost and 16 Family Stores, the work of the Salvation Army in Hong Kong and Macau over past 85 years has been exemplary. They address the changing welfare needs of the community, in particular the provision of high quality elderly and rehabilitation services, as well as services for the disadvantaged groups through its various community studies and innovative projects.

 

Apart from subvented and self-financing social services, the Salvation Army has spared no effort in promoting the spirit of sustainable development and self-reliance. Through funding from the Enhancing Self-Reliance Through District Partnership Programme, the Salvation Army sets up various social enterprises covering thrift shops, a computer recycling station and a rehabilitation centre for the elderly. These social enterprises provide opportunities for under-privileged women, low-educated or low-skilled people, unemployed middle-aged people and new arrivals to make good use of their talents. The Salvation Army has always been and remains the Government’s most reliable partner in the delivery of welfare services. Indeed, poverty alleviation and better elder care are top on the current-term Government’s policy agenda.

 

On behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, let me express my deepest thanks to the Salvation Army for its dedicated social services in Hong Kong in the past 85 years. I trust that with the inspiring leadership from the International Headquarters and continuous efforts from all members of the Hong Kong & Macau Command, the Salvation Army will scale new heights in the years to come.

 

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam made these remarks at the Salvation Army Appreciation Reception on February 23.

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Cultural district long-term investment

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

This exhibition marks another significant milestone in the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District and in particular M+. I am pleased to say that the 60,000 square-metre M+ building designed by the renowned Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron is progressing smoothly and on schedule.

 

The extraordinary M+ building will become an iconic landmark along the waterfront of Victoria Harbour. It will house a full range of first-rate museum facilities such as galleries, studios, learning and research areas, museum shops and cafes, as well as plenty of public open spaces and greenery for arts lovers and the general public to enjoy.

 

Equally encouraging is the notable progress made in the institutional and software development of the museum – thanks to the hard work of Lars (External Advisor of M+, Dr Lars Nittve) in the past five years. M+ has built a strong curatorial team and embarked on a wide range of audience and capacity building programmes. I am also glad that M+ is building up its reputation and status in the international art scene.

 

In May last year, I officiated at the opening of the Hong Kong Exhibition at the Venice Biennale which was jointly presented by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and M+. I met with a lot of people in the arts circle during the trip, and from our conversations, I had a strong impression that M+ is already a brand that is well-recognised in the international arts arena. The opening of M+ in 2019 will be something eagerly anticipated by art lovers around the world.

 

M+ is also part of the wider West Kowloon Cultural District, which is a long-term strategic investment of the HKSAR Government to transform a 40-hectare prime site on the waterfront into an integrated arts and cultural district with world-class arts and cultural facilities as well as quality open spaces that will make Hong Kong people proud.

 

The facilities are now taking shape and will be commissioned in stages. Since the opening of the Nursery Park last July, the Authority has been organising series of popular cultural events at the Park including Freespace Happening that are being held on alternate Sundays under the territory-wide “Appreciate Hong Kong” Campaign. The M+ Pavilion, the first building to be completed on the West Kowloon Cultural District, will open later this year.

 

The Xiqu Centre, a world-class facility dedicated to Chinese opera, is scheduled to open in 2018 along with parts of the Park. Another venue, the Freespace, will open in 2019.

 

The West Kowloon Cultural District is a leading example of the HKSAR Government’s commitment to promoting arts and culture in Hong Kong. We endeavour to create an environment which is conducive to freedom of artistic expression and creation, and wider participation in cultural activities.

 

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam made these remarks at the opening reception of the “M+ Sigg Collection: Four Decades of Chinese Contemporary Art” exhibition on February 22.

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Gov’t grateful for community support

Chief Executive CY Leung

A traditional southern Chinese way of greeting each other during the New Year period, which is to say “Kung hei fat choi”, wish you make a lot more money.

 

This, apart from being a traditional New Year greeting, has its practical meaning particularly for the Financial Secretary, because the more money businesses and taxpayers generally make, the more tax money our Financial Secretary collects and, therefore, the various other departments in the Government do more for the Hong Kong community.

 

It is notable that in the financial year 2014/2015, both profits tax and salary tax collections reached record highs. As for the situation of 2015/2016, I am sure the Financial Secretary will soon make the appropriate announcement. So that’s the New Year greeting.

 

Secondly, and more importantly, I would like to thank all of you for your support, particularly those of you who work for the Government and by extension for the community at large, serving on the various committees and statutory bodies in the past year. A big thank you from myself and from the Hong Kong Government.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the Spring Reception at Government House.

 

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CE delivers Lunar New Year message

Chief Executive CY Leung

Chinese people attach great importance to the Lunar New Year.

 

Hong Kong is an international city. Local people and overseas visitors alike enjoy the festive atmosphere here during the Chinese New Year.

 

To maintain Hong Kong’s characteristics as a melting pot of Chinese and Western cultures, we must value traditional Chinese festivals and pass on Chinese culture and arts with all-out efforts.

 

My wife and I wish all children an energetic and blissful Year of the Monkey. We also wish all people, regardless of age and nationality, a healthy, happy and prosperous year ahead.

 

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Happy New Year!

 

This is a translation of Chief Executive CY Leung’s Lunar New Year message delivered on February 7.

 

Lunar New Year message

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HK, India can explore prospects

Chief Executive CY Leung

I had the honour of meeting with the Prime Minister this morning, and the Prime Minister and I agreed to take our co-operation to new levels and also to broaden the scope of our co-operation. And I had separate meetings after the meeting with the Prime Minister with the Foreign Minister and the Minister for Finance. And although these were separate meetings, but it was clear to me that there was a consensus among the top leaders of India that we should broaden the scope, and deepen the depth, of co-operation between India and Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong, to be sure, is equally pro-business and pro-growth. Indeed, we are the world’s eighth-largest trading economy, and 15th largest exporter of commercial services. We place our faith, and our future, in free trade and innovative enterprise. Good reasons for India and Hong Kong to expand on our strong and longstanding ties – to explore the wealth of new and emerging prospects open to business on both sides.

 

Hong Kong is an interesting city. It’s a populous city with 7.2 million people living in no more than 1,100 square kilometres. And I should tell you that the total amount of housing land of this 1,100 square kilometres is no more than 10%, and we manage to give people, generally speaking, good quality housing. Of course, there are still many challenges, but generally speaking we have 7.2 million people living in reasonable quality housing units using no more than 10% of our land area. And within 1,100 square kilometres, we have both urban area, suburbs, rural areas and the countryside. All within a mere 1,100 square kilometres. And we have 40% of our land area set aside as country parks, and the nearest entrances to our country parks are no more than 15 minutes’ drive from the hustle bustle of our Central business district. And apparently we have more species of butterflies in Hong Kong than the whole of England. We have pink dolphin in our sea, not far from where the new airport is. So that’s Hong Kong. And we do have some experience when it comes to urbanisation – some positive, some not so positive – which we are quite prepared to share with our friends in India.

 

Transportation, we rely heavily on public transportation. Car ownership in Hong Kong is no more than 21%. In other words, no more than 21% of the households in Hong Kong own cars, and car usage rate is even smaller. But we provide reasonably affordable, comfortable, safe and efficient public transport. And one of the ways of doing this is to have a rail policy, and the CEO of the Mass Transit Railway corporation is with us today. We plan our stations well. We use every single square foot of our stations and space above the stations. And we also optimise the real estate value of railways and the stations where they serve, so much so that the railway corporation in Hong Kong is the largest real estate company, because they create real estate value by optimising the use of space along and around railways and railway stations.

 

And that’s why I’m here, in India, leading a high-profile mission of 40 Hong Kong and Mainland business leaders.

 

That reality – that our mission counts CEOs of major businesses – underscores a critical Hong Kong advantage: our “one country, two systems” arrangement.

 

The “one country” part of this successful formula means that Hong Kong enjoys unique advantages for being part of China. We enjoy the best market access to the Mainland, and many other benefits that come with being a privileged player in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

 

As for “two systems”, we offer free market access to Hong Kong, the common law system, rule of law, open and democratic government, independent judiciary and English as one of the official and business languages.

 

The “one country” and “two systems” arrangement offers opportunities no other city in China, indeed no other economy in the world, can match. It’s a unique role, one that has made Hong Kong a two-way business bridge open to all. We bring the rest of China and the rest of the world together. I like to call Hong Kong the world’s “super-connector”.

 

There are nearly 8,000 overseas and Mainland companies that maintain offices in Hong Kong. Most take advantage of our peerless ties to the Mainland. No less important, they set up in Hong Kong because capital, information, trade and people flow freely in and out of Hong Kong.

 

They do so because our tax system is simple and our tax rates low. By the way, our personal tax return is a simple form of four pages printed in large font, and our profits tax ceiling is a mere 16.5 per cent.

 

We have world-class infrastructure for businesses. Our Internet connection speed is among the world’s fastest. Our household broadband penetration rate, at 83%, is among Asia’s highest. Our mobile subscription rate is a remarkable 229%.

 

Businesses can also count on our legal system – our judiciary is independent, and our intellectual property regime robust. And there is practically no language barrier – English is used in classrooms, boardrooms and courtrooms.

 

Equally important, we are the freest economy in the world. In fact, we have been given that status for 22 years in a row by the Heritage Foundation of the United States. In a report just released on Monday, out of the 10 components measured, Hong Kong achieved high score of 90 or above in seven components, with the top positions in three components, namely business freedom, trade freedom and financial freedom. When you run a business in Hong Kong, you don’t have to worry about competition from the Hong Kong Government – we do not own businesses. A complete level playing field for all.

 

Compelling reasons, I would say, for more Indian companies to consider Hong Kong in your pursuit of markets on the Mainland of China, Southeast Asia and around the world. And if you are still in doubt, of if you have questions to ask, my delegation members are happy to share with you their experience of managing business in this region out of Hong Kong. You can count on them. Our business people are open-minded; they keep looking for new partners because they know there is enough on the table for all and business is not a zero-sum game.

 

Our role as a global business intermediary is enabled, no less, by the high-powered business and trade systems we’ve shaped and streamlined over the decades and the generations.

 

We are, for instance, the world’s leading offshore hub for the renminbi. Indeed, banks in Hong Kong handle some 70% of global renminbi payment. In the first 11 months of 2015, renminbi trade settlement managed by banks here totalled RMB6,166 billion – up 10 per cent, year-on-year. Our clearing and settlement system for renminbi trade and related renminbi financial transactions is unrivalled in its efficiency – ideal for enabling India’s trade with China.

 

That role will only grow as China’s 13th Five-Year Plan gets going next month. Proposals for the plan, outlined late last year, endorse Hong Kong’s renminbi status. The plan also supports our leading role in promoting high value-added financial services, as well as logistics and professional services.

 

In addition, it states that the Mainland will continue to open its markets to Hong Kong, to expedite our co-operation with Guangdong Province, and to deepen our ties to the Pan-Pearl River Delta region.

 

When it comes to doing business with China, Hong Kong, of course, has unrivalled experience and expertise. We have, for example, supported the Pearl River Delta’s rise as the world’s factory for more than 35 years. Over that time, we have been instrumental in building the Pan-Pearl River Delta region into a manufacturing and supply-chain powerhouse. We have the management, technical and professional expertise, and we are happy to share them with India.

 

Business, of course, is made easier, and infinitely more rewarding, when people-to-people bonds – in culture, education, sports and more – are cultivated, allowed to flourish.

 

In this regard, I see much promise. Our respective tourism attractions, for example, are well known. And it’s encouraging to see that tourists from India to Hong Kong grew nearly 19% in 2014.

 

New Delhi’s cultural heritage, of course, is celebrated worldwide; in this, the city serves as a kind of mini-India. I’m pleased to note, too, that India’s e-Tourist Visa Scheme was extended, last year, to Hong Kong and the Mainland of China. It will, I’m sure, boost holiday travel from Hong Kong to India.

 

Culturally, Hong Kong is richer thanks to the large, vital and long-established Indian community in Hong Kong. And I look forward to the signing of an MOU on cultural co-operation between Hong Kong and India.

 

In education, Hong Kong and India have much to offer each other. Indeed, four Hong Kong universities were ranked among the world’s top 100 universities last year in the QS World University Rankings.

 

One of them, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, recently established a Visiting Professorship of Indian Studies in concert with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. I would say that’s an excellent start. And I look forward to more education and research co-operation between us at the post-secondary level.

 

On science and technology, Hong Kong is also a “super-connector” that provides a platform for mutual co-operation and exchange. Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, one of the world’s leading medical universities, opens the first overseas research centre this year in Hong Kong. We will also be home to the first Innovation Node of the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

It also helps that the Hong Kong Government launched our own Innovation and Technology Bureau last November to co-ordinate the science and technology research efforts of our universities and other major Hong Kong research and development centres.

 

I have just visited the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi this afternoon, and am most impressed by the various cutting edge researches. We welcome, and indeed look forward to, Indian research institutions and businesses to work with Hong Kong, and make use of the platform provided by us to advance and promote science and technology. I look forward to seeing the results of our joint research efforts.

 

And what about sports? I am pleased to note that our own Hong Kong cricket team will be in India next month for the ICC World T20 cup. New Delhi will be hosting some of the games, and should Hong Kong make it to the Super-10 stage, I’m sure our players will find rousing support right here in the great city of New Delhi.

 

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council opened an office right here in New Delhi last April. The TDC looks forward to helping Indian companies find a rewarding future with Hong Kong. I also look forward to business and other delegations from India. My delegation and the TDC would be happy to reciprocate your hospitality. I hope, in the not-too-distant future, we could set up high-level roundtable meetings when you are visiting Hong Kong – to explore opportunities, to grow our relationship, together.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at a business dinner hosted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council in New Delhi on February 4.

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HK can aid Indian growth

Chief Executive CY Leung

India’s economic rise has caught the admiration, attention and imagination of governments and businesses around the world.

 

Hong Kong shares the pro-business philosophy of India, its government, its industries and its companies. But that, of course, is nothing new. The two economies have long enjoyed fruitful relations, ties deeply grounded in business and trade and the people.

 

The Indian Chamber of Commerce, for example, opened for business in Hong Kong nearly 65 years ago. Today, the Chamber counts some 600 members in Hong Kong, where many of India’s major companies – including 12 Indian banks – keep offices.

 

The numbers underline our economic ties. Between the years 2010 and 2014, the average annual growth in our bilateral trade was 7%, and that was annual. In 2014, our trade expanded by some 12%. That year, India was Hong Kong’s seventh largest trading partner, while Hong Kong was pleased to be India’s eighth largest.

 

I am confident that our good merchandise trade will continue to grow, that our respective companies will continue to prosper. Beyond that, however, I see a wealth of new prospects, fresh opportunities. These arise thanks largely to a series of bold economic strategies devised and resolutely pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his pro-growth government. I had the honour, this morning, of meeting the Prime Minister. We agreed to take Hong Kong-India co-operation to even higher levels.

 

Also this morning, the Indian Ministry of Finance opened a two-day India Investment Summit here in New Delhi. Road transport, highways, ports, railways, power and renewable energy – infrastructure in general – are under the conference spotlight, seeking global investment as part of the government’s “Make in India” drive.

 

HK’s unique advantages

Hong Kong can help finance, and help build, India’s infrastructure.

 

We may be a city of only 7.2 million people, but what Hong Kong lacks in size, in scale, we more than make up for in the sheer strength of our trade, finance and global economic influence.

 

That influence comes from our “one country, two systems” arrangement. When one is in Hong Kong, one is in China – but Hong Kong’s a special part of China that provides the combined advantages of “one country” and “two systems”. We offer you the rule of law, intellectual property rights protection, English as one of the official and commonly used languages, open society and international lifestyle. And we also offer unique connectivity to the Mainland of China.

 

That unique duality has made Hong Kong the unique “super-connector”, bringing together the rest of China and the rest of the world, and that, of course, includes India. That unique feature also makes us a magnet for business – at last count, nearly 8,000 international companies are based in Hong Kong.

 

What’s more, we have been the freest economy in the world for 22 consecutive years – as endorsed by the US Heritage Foundation. In the report just released on Monday, out of the 10 components measured, Hong Kong achieved high scores of 90 or above in seven components, with the top positions in three components, namely business freedom, trade freedom and financial freedom. It certainly helps that the Hong Kong Government does not own businesses. So there is an open and level playing field for all, irrespective of where they come from.

 

Members of my delegation would agree. They are all high-profile, top business leaders in the various sectors in Hong Kong, including banking, finance, aviation, shipping, logistics, professional services, transportation, infrastructure and many more. All of them will be happy to share their experience and expertise with you, to help you find opportunities in Hong Kong and the region.

 

And, of course, you could ask the Indian business community of Hong Kong. One of the largest, it is also among the most active of Hong Kong’s communities, whether in putting on business seminars or film, dance and art festivals.

 

Indeed, your Consul General in Hong Kong was a featured speaker at the December 2015 Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum, a Hong Kong Government initiative created to promote cultural co-operation among Asian countries.

 

With the support from the Consulate General of India, classical, traditional and Bollywood dance performances were presented in the Asian Ethnic Cultural Performances in Hong Kong in November last year.

 

Cultural Co-operation 

There is, to be sure, much more that we can do to boost cultural relations and people-to-people ties. With that in mind, we have forwarded a draft MOU on cultural co-operation to the Indian Government, and we look forward to its signing as soon as possible.

 

There is great promise, too, in educational co-operation. In 2014/15, some 300 Indian students studied full-time at Hong Kong’s post-secondary institutions. And Hong Kong and Indian post-secondary institutions are now engaged in 10 research projects. They have also concluded eight exchange agreements, including one between our Hong Kong City University and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.

 

Technology and innovation is another area of boundless promise. India is, of course, a world leader in I&T. And I know there are ambitious expansion plans for the sector through the “Make in India” programme.

 

Hong Kong, too, looks to a future predicated on I&T. Just last November, for example, we launched the Innovation & Technology Bureau. The bureau will co-ordinate the science and technology research efforts of our universities, as well as Hong Kong Science Park, Cyberport, the Hong Kong Productivity Council and other major Hong Kong research and development centres.

 

In my Policy Address – annual Policy Address – just three weeks ago, I announced the setting up of an Innovation & Technology Venture Fund for co-investing in local innovation and technology start-ups with private venture capital funds on a matching basis.

 

The goal, to be sure, is clear: inspiring business opportunities that reward us all, India and Hong Kong alike.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi.

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HK good for Indian business

Chief Executive CY Leung

Big, bigger and biggest are words that go hand-in-hand with India. Indeed, this country – the world’s seventh largest in area – will become the most populous nation, and in just six years.

 

And when it comes to counting opportunity, India’s economy, the third largest in Asia, has captured the attention, and the imagination, of the world. A recent feature in Fortune magazine, predicted that India was, I quote, “set to become one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world over the next several years”, unquote.

 

That, of course, is already a reality, as the IMF noted in its most recent World Economic Outlook report, projecting growth of 7.5% this year for India. That’s thanks, in part, to your country’s fast-expanding middle class and young consumers, and the retail boom they are propelling.

 

Pro-business, pro-growth

It’s thanks too, to Prime Minister Modi’s “pro-business, pro-growth” policies which are the driving force behind India’s leap of 16 places in the latest World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.

 

I’m here to say that Hong Kong is equally pro-business and pro-growth. In each of my past four years’ annual Policy Address I put economy ahead of other chapters. For the past 22 years we have been ranked by the Heritage Foundation as the world’s freest economy. In a report just released on Monday, out of the 10 components measured, Hong Kong achieved a high score of 90 or above in seven components, with top positions in the three components of business freedom, trade freedom and financial freedom. The Government of Hong Kong does not own business, you may be interested to know, and so there is no need to worry about competition with government-owned enterprises in Hong Kong.

 

I’m sure that message was delivered, and clearly, earlier today, in the presentations you heard from some of the 40 senior businesspeople making up our Hong Kong mission to India. They come from a variety of background – aviation, logistics, professional services, banking and financial services. There are also CEOs of Mainland businesses in Hong Kong. They are here with me now, and I know they are eager to talk business with India.

 

Of course, business between our two economies has long been good, has long rewarded our respective companies and economies.

 

And when I say “long”, I mean “long”. Indian businesspeople have played a role in building Hong Kong since the 19th century.

 

Indian interest

The Indian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong opened for business in 1952, and that’s a bit older than I am. Today, it counts some 600 members. And many of India’s leading companies maintain offices in Hong Kong. Overall, there are around 1,500 Indian companies in Hong Kong in fields such as investment finance, banking, industries, information technology.

 

The numbers underline our economic ties. Between 2010 and 2014, the average annual growth in our bilateral trade came in at 7%. In 2014, our trade grew by nearly 12%. In merchandise trade, India was Hong Kong’s seventh largest trading partner, while Hong Kong was India’s eighth largest in 2014.

 

I’m confident these good results will become better results down the road. Particularly given that your far-reaching “Make in India” programme is rapidly gearing up for business. The initiative, launched nearly one and a half years ago, places priority on partnerships and investment.

 

Hong Kong has the partners and the investment capital. We have, as well, a great wealth of singular advantages. Taken together, we can help “Make in India” accelerate into the global fast lane.

 

It begins with our “one country, two systems” arrangement. It offers Hong Kong the best of both worlds.

 

On the one hand, our special arrangements with the Mainland present us with opportunities no other city in China, no other economy in the world, can enjoy. On the other, we are – like Mumbai – a global city, intimately and inextricably tied to a world of business.

 

In short, Hong Kong is the global economy’s undisputed “super-connector” – bringing together the rest of China and the rest of the world, and that definitely includes India. This role is underlined by the fact that many key members of the Hong Kong business delegates here today are top executives of China state-owned and other Mainland Chinese businesses based in Hong Kong.

 

Today, nothing says Hong Kong more than our prowess in financial services. China’s international financial centre, Hong Kong is also one of the world’s leading international capitals – long ranked third behind only London and New York in the semi-annual Global Financial Centres Index, and financial services as a sector contributes no less than 16% to our GDP.

 

Indeed, as an investment banker was quoted as saying in the most recent Global Financial Centres report, “The big banks all need to be in London, New York and Hong Kong at the very least.” That India has 12 full licensed banks and one deposit-taking company based in Hong Kong again underlines that statement.

 

HK a magnet

Hong Kong attracts a world of business, trade and finance; nearly 8,000 overseas and Mainland companies maintain offices in Hong Kong. And not only because of our unique ties to the Mainland of China. No less important, they count on Hong Kong because they trust Hong Kong. Because they know that capital, information, trade and people flow freely in and out of Hong Kong. That there is a level playing field for all business in Hong Kong, no matter where you come from, what background you have.

 

They do business in Hong Kong because our tax system is low and our communications and logistics infrastructure world class. They look to Hong Kong because our legal system is based on common law, our judiciary independent, and our intellectual property regime nothing less than reassuring.

 

Add it up, and what does it mean? What does Hong Kong have to offer Indian companies? To start with, investment capital.

 

I know that India’s plans for infrastructure investment are huge, with US$1 trillion earmarked as part of the country’s 2012-2017 Five-Year Plan.

 

Hong Kong can help finance India’s future, in infrastructure and much more.

 

Few economies attract more foreign direct investment or make more FDI available than Hong Kong. Indeed, in 2014, Hong Kong ranked second, internationally, in the FDI it drew; we also placed second in FDI outflow.

 

Last year, too, Hong Kong ranked first globally, in initial public offerings raised. Other than public offerings, we have the expertise and capacity to arrange a diverse range of fund-raising options, including syndicated loans, private equity, and even Renminbi bonds.

 

Indian companies are particularly welcome to make use of our Renminbi bonds. To date, seven banks and corporations from India have issued Renminbi bonds in Hong Kong.

 

Our Renminbi status will soon become even more visible, thanks to the International Monetary Fund’s recent decision to include the Renminbi in its Special Drawing Rights basket, beginning in October.

 

Other than financial services, I know that infrastructure development such as railways, roads and transport in general are also among India’s priorities.

 

World-class infrastructure

Hong Kong boasts one of the most advanced, cost effective and safe transport networks in the world. Our subway system, MTR, alone carries an average five million passengers every weekday. It will also be managing Crossrail of the United Kingdom, 118 kilometres long, the largest infrastructure project currently in Europe upon its completion, due for 2018. MTR will also set up an academy to train personnel in rail management and operation, and we are happy to share our experience and expertise with India.

 

Our Hong Kong port is also consistently among the world’s busiest container ports in terms of throughput. Some 350 container vessel sailings take place each week to more than 500 destinations around the world.

 

Given the heavy traffic, I am sure you won’t be surprised that we are also an international maritime services centre, flush with more than 700 companies. They offer an exceptional range of maritime services, from ship management and agency, to ship finance, maritime insurance, maritime legal services and arbitration. They would be happy to work with you, and explore business opportunity together.

 

We have 21st century infrastructure, and we also have world-class professionals, from engineers and surveyors to architects, designers and planners. All of which Hong Kong has in abundance. All of them are eager to help with Indian business.

 

I am truly overwhelmed by the level of interest on the Indian side in our visit. To reciprocate, I would like to encourage an Indian business delegation to Hong Kong, and we would be more than happy to arrange a high-level round-table meeting for business leaders from both sides in such sectors as finance, infrastructural development, urban development, logistics, and merchandise trade. Hopefully, this would pave the way for broader and deeper co-operation between our two economies. I am sure that would be rewarding for all of us.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council in Mumbai.

via Moroccan Trader HK good for Indian business

HK perfect for Indian expansion

Chief Executive CY Leung

Hong Kong is determined to build its future on innovation and technology. Our highly developed information and communications technology infrastructure presents a compelling I&T base and a compelling I&T case as well.

 

The World Competitiveness Yearbook has ranked Hong Kong number one worldwide in technological infrastructure five years in a row. Our average peak Internet connection speed is the world’s second fastest.

 

In my Policy Address less than three weeks ago, innovation and technology dominated, continuing a year of notable I&T progress. Last November, among other major initiatives, we launched Hong Kong’s own Innovation & Technology Bureau.

 

The bureau will co-ordinate the science and technology research efforts of our universities, as well as Hong Kong Science Park, Cyberport, the Productivity Council and other major Hong Kong research and development centres.

 

Beyond I&T Bureau, Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, one of the world’s leading medical research institutes, will open its first ever overseas research centre in its 200-year history, in Hong Kong, and the research centre will be located in the Hong Kong Science Park. It’s scheduled to open its doors in August this year. Hong Kong will also be home to the first Innovation Node of the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

InnoTech investment

In my Policy Address I earmarked more than US$1.1 billion to advance innovation and technology in Hong Kong. The money will kick-start a variety of new programmes and initiatives, including US$250 million for a university research fund. The fund will help our universities carry out more midstream research.

 

A similar cash infusion will be used for an Innovation & Technology Venture Fund, the money allocated on a matching basis with private-venture capitalist funds.

 

I’m particularly keen on a US$65 million initiative for an Innovation & Technology Fund for Better Living. The enterprising fund will support projects that use innovation and technology to enhance our everyday lives. I hope the fund will be put to good use to enhance the convenience and safety, and generally speaking quality of life, for everyone in Hong Kong.

 

I see a lot of room for co-operation between Hong Kong and India in scientific research, commercialisation and co-investment. We welcome Indian investment – Indian innovation and technology – to explore and develop together with Hong Kong.

 

India’s fast-growing resources, technical expertise and human capital have much to offer Hong Kong companies and institutions. So too do such dynamic new initiatives as Make in India and 100 Smart Cities. And your latest venture, “Start-up India, Stand-up India”, fits right in with Hong Kong’s own thriving start-up ecosystem.

 

Freest economy

Beyond our promising I&T sector, Hong Kong has more to bring to the table. Yesterday the US Heritage Foundation announced that Hong Kong is again the freest economy in the world.

 

We have been ranked so for 22 years in a row. Among the 10 components measured in the report released yesterday, Hong Kong achieved high scores of 90 or above in seven components, with the top positions in three of these components and they are Business Freedom, Trade Freedom and Financial Freedom. The Hong Kong Government, additionally, does not own businesses – and so you do not need to worry about having to compete against government-owned business in Hong Kong.

 

More importantly Hong Kong is, after all, powered by the twin engines of China and the world. That’s thanks to our “one country, two systems” arrangement.

 

It’s a unique advantage giving us all the privileges of being part of China while ensuring that we are plugged in to the global economy. Ensuring too that information, capital and people move freely in and out of Hong Kong. And they do so with complete confidence in Hong Kong’s freedoms, its independent judiciary, rule of law and reassuring intellectual property regime.

 

And that ability to stride both systems has made Hong Kong the world’s undisputed “super-connector”, a multi-level bridge bringing together China and a world of business. That definitely includes the whole of India’s business.

 

Let me add that, more than an official language, English is widely spoken – on the streets, in the offices and in the classrooms of Hong Kong.

 

In short, Hong Kong is India’s perfect base for regional and global collaboration. We have the experience, the expertise, and the connections to bring Hong Kong, and Indian entrepreneurs together for rewarding partnerships.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry in Mumbai.

via Moroccan Trader HK perfect for Indian expansion