Great op­por­tu­ni­ties await HK’s SMEs to ride on B&R strat­egy

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By WILLA WU in Hong Kong willa@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The head of the Belt and Road (B&R) Of­fice in Hong Kong on Tues­day urged lo­cal small- and medium-sized en­ter­prises (SMEs) to get in­volved in the B&R Ini­tia­tive — and to seize the many busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties it will of­fer.

The of­fice, in­au­gu­rated four months ago, has pledged to link Hong Kong with the lat­est de­vel­op­ments from coun­tries and re­gions along B&R routes. It also wants to equip Hong Kong com­pa­nies with the nec­es­sary knowl­edge to take full ad­van­tage of the na­tional strat­egy, first mooted by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in 2013.

“Many think that the B&R Ini­tia­tive only con­cerns largescale in­fra­struc­ture projects. It goes be­yond that,” said Yvonne Choi Ying-pik.

She made the com­ments on Tues­day at the first me­dia gath­er­ing since her ap­point­ment as com­mis­sioner for Belt and Road in Hong Kong on a non-re­mu­ner­a­tive ba­sis.

She cited the ex­am­ple of a lo­cal as­phalt com­pany which has ac­tively par­tic­i­pated in the ini­tia­tive and be­come a pi­o­neer for other lo­cal SMEs.

Serv­ing as a con­nec­tor, the of­fice plans to co­or­di­nate with dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, statu­tory bod­ies such as the Hong Kong Trade De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil, and aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions in Hong Kong and on the Chi­nese main­land. They will work to­gether on Belt and Road projects and ac­tively li­aise with the author­i­ties in charge of im­ple­ment­ing the ini­tia­tive.

Choi said her of­fice will hold an in­ter­nal meet­ing every two to three weeks. The re­sults of these will be di­rectly re­ported to Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying.

From first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence over the past four months, Choi said she was con­vinced that fu­ture busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties were abun­dant.

She said the key to seiz­ing these op­por­tu­ni­ties was to be open-minded.

“From my pre­vi­ous busi­ness trips to the B&R economies, I no­ticed that there is a great need for man­age­ment skills at air­ports and har­bors — which is a strong suit of Hong Kong.”

Lan­guage bar­ri­ers are a typ­i­cal chal­lenge en­ter­prises will face when ex­pand­ing to new mar­kets. For ex­am­ple, lan­guages like Ara­bic and Turk­ish may be spo­ken. But few peo­ple learn these lan­guages in Hong Kong, ex­cept for those on a few cour­ses of­fered at the Univer­sity of Hong Kong and the Chi­nese Univer­sity of Hong Kong.

Choi sug­gested Hong Kong com­pa­nies hire main­land grad­u­ates who have stud­ied these lan­guages. This is be­cause such study pro­grams are more com­mon on the main­land, she ex­plained.

The B&R Ini­tia­tive, spread­ing across more than 60 coun­tries and re­gions, refers to the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and the 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road. This is a trade and in­fra­struc­ture net­work con­nect­ing Asia with Europe and Africa along an­cient trade routes.

Zhang De­jiang, the coun­try’s top leg­is­la­tor who over­sees Hong Kong and Ma­cao af­fairs, praised Hong Kong’s ad­van­tages in mar­itime, in­land and air trans­port.

Dur­ing his three-day visit to the city in May, Zhang said the city served as an im­por­tant gate­way in the main­land’s eco­nomic lib­er­al­iza­tion process.

Choi will at­tend the China Daily Asia Lead­er­ship Round­table Lun­cheon on Wed­nes­day (to­day). She will join Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying and in­flu­en­tial busi­ness lead­ers to dis­cuss Hong Kong’s su­per-con­nec­tor role un­der the B&R Ini­tia­tive.

ZHENG / CHINA DAILY PARKER

Cen­tral in Hong Kong — home to var­i­ous head­quar­ters of com­pa­nies from across the globe. More lo­cal small- and medium-sized en­ter­prises are urged to jump on the band­wagon of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive in the light of Hong Kong’s po­si­tion as a gate­way in the Chi­nese main­land’s eco­nomic lib­er­al­iza­tion process.

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