State-owned en­ter­prises can rely on HK’s rich ex­pe­ri­ence in B&R in­vest­ment, fo­rum heard

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - ROUND - By LIN WENJIE in Hong Kong cher­rylin@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The Belt and Road (B&R) In it i a t i v e wi l l st r e n gt he n Hong Kong’s role as a su­per­con­nec­tor that can fa­cil­i­tate mu­tual in­vest­ments be­tween com­pa­nies from the Chi­nese main­land and their coun­ter­parts from economies along the B&R routes, cash­ing in on the city’s decades-long ex­pe­ri­ence in li­ais­ing with re­gional peers, a prom­i­nent busi­ness leader told the China Daily Roundtable Lead­er­ship Lun­cheon on “Hong Kong Su­perCon­nect­ing the Belt and Road” on Wed­nes­day.

“For ex­am­ple, many of our me m b e r s ar e Ho n g Ko n g com­pa­nies with 40 to 50 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in in­vest­ing in the ASEAN (As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions) coun­tries and are thus very fa­mil­iar with these mar­kets. If SOEs (State-owned en­ter­prises) are in­ter­ested in ASEAN, they can co­op­er­ate with Hong Kong en­ter­prises in do­ing busi­ness there. As Premier Li Ke­qiang has said, main­land and Hong Kong en­ter­prises should tap the op­por­tu­ni­ties in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets,” said Jonathan Choi Koon-shum, chair­man of the Chi­nese Gen­eral Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Be­fore the kick-off of the B& R pr o j e c t , Ho n g Ko n g was al­ready an in­vestor with an es­tab­lished busi­ness rep­u­ta­tion in the B&R mar­kets, es­pe­cially the ASEAN coun­tries, and many of the Hong Kong en­ter­prises are ver y ex­pe­ri­enced in in­vest- ing in the prop­erty, fi­nance and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors in those economies.

To se t up a strong com­bi­na­tion of Hong Kong and main­land com­pa­nies in go­ing glob­ally, Choi urged main­land en­ter­prises to cre­ate joint ven­tures with their Hong Kong peers, and adopt Hong Kong’s busi­ness man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, which is more suit­able for the B&R economies. In ad­di­tion, main­land com­pa­nies can have stakes in their Hong Kong coun­ter­parts which have well-es­tab­lished them­selves in over­seas mar­kets.

Hong Kong has been push­ing to take up the role of a “su­per-connector” for the B&R project since it was mooted by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping three years ago. Choi said the SAR, as a “su­per-connector” to pro- mote bi­lat­eral in­vest­ments, can also act as a fi­nanc­ing cen­ter, such as a hub for fundrais­ing or IPOs (ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ings). The city can fur­ther of­fer pro­fes­sional ser­vices like le­gal and ac­count­ing ser­vices in line with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, mak­ing it eas­ier for main­land com­pa­nies to go out.

How­ever, he warned that in­vest­ing in the B&R coun­tries does bring risks. “The big­gest chal­lenge is po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity. Prior to the B&R Ini­tia­tive, Hong Kong’s re­la­tion­ship with South­east Asian coun­tries, for in­stance, was purely based on trade, but there are now geopo­lit­i­cal is­sues — the re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and other coun­tries, as well as the un­cer­tain­ties in these coun­tries, all of which pose chal­lenges to in­vest­ment.”

Choi al­layed fears over the main­land’s tighter cap­i­tal con­trol on cap­i­tal out­flow, ad­ding that cap­i­tal con­trol will not have any im­pact on B&R

Jonathan Choi Koon-shum (ce be­lieves that the Hong Kong SAR Belt and Road economies, can a of­fer­ings).

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