Hong Kong touted as gateway
Hong Kong is the ideal platform for Canadian businesses to explore the ever-expanding markets of the Chinese mainland and Asia, Kathy Chan, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Toronto (HKETO), said at a business seminar on June 28 in Ottawa.
Chan made the comments at a seminar called the Global Economy and How Asia is Faring: Implications for Canadian Exporters organised by the Hong Kong Canada Business Association.
Citing a recent report from the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada which recommended a forward-looking CanadaAsia strategy, Chan said it was imperative for Canada to further strengthen its economic partnership with Asia and the continent’s most important market — the Chinese mainland.
“Under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle, while we are part of China, we exercise a high degree of autonomy. We maintain our own systems and participate in international organisations and conferences,” Chan said.
Giving an overview of Hong Kong’s strength as a valued international business partner, Chan told the seminar that the US Heritage Foundation ranked Hong Kong the world’s freest economy for 22 consecutive years, while the Lausanne-based International Institute for Management Development also ranked the city’s economy as the world’s most competitive in 2016.
“Today, about 8,000 overseas and Chinese mainland companies keep offices in Hong Kong, and that includes around 100 Canadian companies,” she said. “We welcome more Canadian companies to set up headquarters and offices in Hong Kong to manage their business in the AsiaPacific region.”
She also mentioned the investment promotion and protection agreement which was signed by Hong Kong and Canada in February. “The agreement will boost the confidence of investors of both sides and further strengthen economic and trade ties,” she said.
The seminar’s participants also received a concise introduction and the latest update of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), a free- trade pact signed between Hong Kong and the China mainland in 2003. Under the arrangement, Hong Kong goods and service suppliers can enjoy tariff-free and preferential market access to the China mainland.
“The beauty of the CEPA is that it is nationality-neutral,” Chan noted. “Foreign investors are always welcome to set up businesses in Hong Kong to leverage the CEPA benefits. There is no better way to do business with the China mainland than by doing business in and with Hong Kong.”
Turing to the Belt and Road Initiative, Chan said that Hong Kong was well placed to partner with Canadian companies to tap the vast potential arising from the initiative. With infrastructure connections as a key objective, she said that the first wave of opportunities would be infrastructure-related.
An estimate by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said that about $730 billion in infrastructure investments would be required in Asia every year between 2015 and 2020.
“We are keen on partnering with Canada to tap the vast potential in these emerging markets,” Chan concluded.
Kathy Chan, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office