Wednesday, 9 December 2015

HK offers unique Belt-Road benefits

Chief Executive CY Leung

The Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce's establishment speaks, unequivocally, of the promise we all see in China's bold and enterprising Belt & Road initiative.

 

This visionary, long-term plan is designed to boost economic, trade, cultural and people-to-people ties between the Mainland of China and more than 60 countries spanning three continents.

 

Belt & Road benefits

Among the Belt-Road's main goals is promoting big-ticket infrastructural development, from highways and railways to maritime and aviation transport, as well as telecommunications and energy projects.

 

It will, as well, deepen financial integration among participants, expanding their trade and broadening their cultural ties. And not for a year or even several years, but for decades to come. Indeed, many see the Belt-Road initiative as the single most promising economic driver of this 21st century.

 

In choosing Hong Kong as its base, the Chamber has demonstrated both national and international vision. Indeed, it makes a welcome and compelling statement about the promise of Hong Kong in the Belt-Road's future.

 

Simply put, there is no better place than Hong Kong to seize the opportunities presented by the Belt-Road initiative.

 

Unique advantages

We are uniquely powered by the "one country, two systems" arrangement. When you are in Hong Kong, whether as a financial services provider, a professional, an investor, a trader or indeed a university student, you are in China. But you are in a part of China that practices, so to speak, "the other system". In other words, we offer you advantages of China that no foreign city can match, and "the other system" at the same time that no Mainland Chinese city can offer. The combined advantages of "one country" and "two systems" make us the super-connector between the rest of China and the rest of the world.

 

Hong Kong is the most international city in China. We have long and extensive government-to-government, business-to-business and people-to-people contacts with other parts of the world. We are an immigrant society. We have open borders and more importantly open minds. We welcome not only business partners. Indeed we welcome equally competitors from whom we have a lot to learn. Further, the Government of Hong Kong does not own businesses to compete with the private sector.

 

The more than 7,900 Mainland and international companies that have set up offices here in Hong Kong will tell you that and many other advantages that we offer.

 

Free trade deal

Consider, for example, CEPA, Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, our free-trade agreement with the Mainland of China. CEPA provides preferential treatment to Hong Kong service providers, regardless of nationality; it also offers tariff-free treatment for Hong Kong products. Foreign companies need only set up a base in Hong Kong or partner with a Hong Kong company to enjoy the very same benefits.

 

A new CEPA arrangement, signed just last month, liberalises trade in services between Hong Kong and the Mainland. Working with Hong Kong, companies from all over the world can gain the same access. CEPA is your ticket to the massive Chinese consumer market and its fast-rising middle class.

 

Put it all together, and Hong Kong has the experience, the expertise and the connections to serve as the Belt-Road's fundraising and financial-management hub. Our financial offerings range from public offerings and loan syndication to private equity funds and the raising of capital through Islamic finance.

 

Global finance centre

Our stock market is the world's seventh largest in market capitalisation, and we rank second, globally, in equity funds raised through initial public offerings (IPOs). Hong Kong is ranked first in terms of IPO funds raised up to end-November 2015.

 

Hong Kong is also the world's largest offshore renminbi business centre. As trade and other economic activities proliferate along the Belt-Road, demand for renminbi trade settlement will also rise. Hong Kong's renminbi trade-settlement system is well placed to respond to that demand.

 

Our renminbi debt market, for example, has grown rapidly in recent years. It offers companies a reliable channel for issuing renminbi bonds to meet project funding needs. Last year, renminbi bond issuance in Hong Kong totalled some RMB200 billion. That, by the way, is a galvanising year-on-year increase of 70%.

 

The good news is that our renminbi prowess is about to become even more valuable. That's thanks to the IMF and its decision to include the renminbi in its Special Drawing Rights basket, alongside the dollar, the Euro, the pound and the yen.

 

Asset- and risk-management services will also be in demand once the Belt-Road projects start their engines. Hong Kong's wealth- and asset-management business has soared in recent years. Hong Kong is ideally positioned to act as a global centre for asset management, risk management and corporate treasury functions.

 

Our pool of world-class professionals is deep and talented, with expertise in finance, accounting, law, architecture, engineering management and more. They have the experience to lead consultancies and the operation and management of infrastructure and construction projects.

 

Sound infrastructure

Our legal professionals work with a world of business every day. They conduct due diligence, ensure contract enforcement and help resolve disputes, all done under the rule of law and our independent judiciary. That makes Hong Kong an ideal centre for resolving commercial disputes.

 

The Belt-Road will catalyse the movement of people and goods, boosting demand for reliable logistics services. In this, Hong Kong is also well served.

 

Indeed, Hong Kong boasts the world's fourth busiest container port, providing some 350 services a week to more than 500 destinations worldwide. Our 700 shipping-related companies offer a wide range of services, from ship management, broking and chartering to finance, marine insurance, legal, arbitration and many other support services.

 

Our airport has been the busiest cargo hub for the past five years, and the third busiest airport for international passengers after Dubai and London Heathrow since 2013.

 

Hong Kong has long been a global centre for talent, notably in trade, finance and business. Hong Kong also brings together talent - from all over the world - in such areas as research, technology and arts and culture.

 

In short, Hong Kong has what the Belt & Road needs to fuel its promising future.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the First Silk Road International Investment Forum & Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce inauguration.

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