Dr Jonathan CHOI Koon-shum (Chairman of the 51st terms of office) January 2019
We hope the HKSAR Government will give greater support to Hong Kong’s industrial and commercial sectors. Such efforts will maximize Hong Kong’s unique strengths and functional roles.
As 2019 unfolds, uncertainties surrounding Sino-US trade issues and geopolitical changes, such as Brexit and WTO disputes, continue to loom over the world, resulting in a more complex economic and political landscape and greater economic challenges for Hong Kong. As China pushes forward a new phase of reform and opening-up, Hong Kong’s business community will enjoy unprecedented new opportunities from further development of the “Belt and Road Initiative” (B&R) and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (Greater Bay Area), especially the imminent release of the Greater Bay Area master plan.
CGCC made a submission to the HKSAR Government earlier on the latest Budget, including a special suggestion for fiscal support for SMEs across the board. We also expressed our hope to see more resources into supporting innovation and technology (I&T) as well as local priority industries, so that Hong Kong can play a more proactive part in regional cooperation within the B&R and Greater Bay Area frameworks.
Reinforce emergency support and information platforms
Last year, the HKSAR Government introduced several improvement measures involving SME financing guarantee to help enterprises cope with business difficulties caused by the Sino-US trade friction. We hope it will consider extending the application period and explore making the special loan guarantee ratio of 80% permanent. Discussions should be conducted with banks to simplify the claims process in order to relieve the burden on SMEs.
The HKSAR Government should also consider providing more manpower and resources to consolidate information provided by different departments on the trade war so that businesses can keep abreast of the latest developments and identify eligible support measures on a one-stop platform. The HKTDC could organize more trade missions and appropriately lower the charges so that more Hong Kong businesses have the opportunity to access overseas markets and establish contacts.
Allocate more resources for I&T
As the global economy becomes increasingly knowledge-based and technology-driven, Hong Kong must timely formulate a macro blueprint for technical development and put more resources into relevant fields. In particular, in wake of the burgeoning artificial intelligence (AI), the HKSAR Government ought to develop a comprehensive talent development plan to attract high-calibre overseas talents and focus on nurturing local technical professionals. It should also thoroughly review existing legislation and remove any outdated provisions.
Strengthen ties and cooperation with surrounding regions
At a meeting celebrating the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up, President Xi Jinping stressed that future reform and opening-up endeavours have to adhere to nine requisites. Development of the Greater Bay Area, which is clearly gathering pace, precisely acts as an important bridge for the country’s opening-up in the new era. To make co-development successful in the Greater Bay Area, efforts must be made to facilitate free flow in key segments. The HKSAR Government should also discuss with the Mainland about implementing “Hong Kong taxation for Hong Kong people”, and further simplify the customs clearance procedures at all ports, ease the restrictions on cross-border private car traffic between Guangdong and Hong Kong, and introduce entry and exit clearance documents applicable to the entire Greater Bay Area to facilitate seamless flow of people, goods and capital.
In addition, B&R is an important measure for China’s further opening-up. As an international financial centre, Hong Kong should actively provide diverse investment financing support for B&R projects. Moreover, the HKSAR Government can introduce one-stop services such as investment promotion, investment consultation and business registration to the Mainland and the Greater Bay Area through the HKTDC-led trade service platform.
Last December, CGCC spearheaded the establishment of the “Mainland China-Hong Kong Belt and Road Business and Professional Services Council”, which aims to provide a platform for close exchange through forums, research and joint visits for Mainland and Hong Kong enterprises to explore collaboration possibilities for B&R projects. The Council has received strong support from the Ministry of Commerce of China and the HKSAR Government.
In conclusion, we hope the HKSAR Government will give greater support to Hong Kong’s industrial and commercial sectors in light of the latest global economic development and drive Hong Kong’s full participation in executing B&R and building the Greater Bay Area. Such efforts will maximize Hong Kong’s unique strengths and functional roles.