Hong Kong touted as gate­way

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By NA LI in Toronto re­nali@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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

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