Dr Jonathan CHOI Koon-shum (Chairman of the 53rd terms of office) March 2023
We must make up for lost time as normalcy is fully resumed for economic development. Through wholistic participation in the development of the Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong can accelerate its integration into the country’s development in the new era.
The Mainland’s rigorous efforts to realize the spirit of the 20th National Congress and resumption of normal economic development in the post-pandemic era have given rise to bountiful business opportunities. To seize these and other opportunities arising from the country’s development, the key entry point would be the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area). The proposal I submitted to the CPPCC National Committee this year indeed included various recommendations on ways to intensify Hong Kong’s participation in the development of the Greater Bay Area, and to strengthen international economic and trade ties.
Enhancing Hong Kong-Shenzhen I&T synergy and interaction
The resumption of normalcy in the Mainland comes with vast new opportunities for Hong Kong. The Budget announced by our Financial Secretary last month included a series of proposals on aligning Hong Kong with national development strategies, stressing that Hong Kong should collaborate with its sister cities in the Greater Bay Area to achieve synergy in the development of major industries and spearhead cooperation in the realm of innovation and technology (I&T) in the entire Greater Bay Area.
The “14th Five-Year” Plan has spelled out support for Hong Kong to become an international I&T center. In my opinion, Hong Kong can step up cooperation and achieve complementarity with Shenzhen in I&T to yield greater results and provide a demo of high-quality development in the Greater Bay Area. For the Mainland, it can coordinate efforts to integrate the I&T zones on both sides of Shenzhen River gradually and facilitate the free flow of key factors. It can also roll out policies to attract elites and leading corporations, while opening up for cross-border investment of venture capital. At the same time, the Mainland can promote the commercialization of research and development outcomes in Hong Kong and their integration with Mainland industries. Meanwhile, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Cooperation Zone (Cooperation Zone) at the Lok Ma Chau Loop can look into setting a precedent of Guangdong-Hong Kong cooperation where the mechanism of “mutual discussion, joint construction, joint administration and shared benefits” is at work. Tax benefits can be given to I&T products and services in the Cooperation Zone, and efforts should be made to facilitate the integration of systems and regulations and coordinate industrial structuring and transformation across the border.
The Guangdong and Hong Kong governments can even promote the synergetic development of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Boundary Control Points Economic Belt and the Northern Metropolis. Through the creation of a coordination and planning committee, the two authorities can further align both hardware and software, including transport infrastructure and control points facilities, to make the “one-hour living circle” in the Greater Bay Area a reality.
Leveraging international connections
In addition to I&T, Hong Kong has a vital role to play in the country’s high-standard opening-up. In recent years, we have seen the Mainland and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) strengthening their cooperation, with the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) propelling their relation to one of strategic partners. Deepening economic and trade cooperation with the ASEAN will be a crucial step toward building further connection with the outside world.
At present, the Mainland is developing industrial zones with a number of ASEAN countries. With the high possibility of Hong Kong joining the RCEP this year, Hong Kong can offer to these industrial zones further high-quality professional services, such as investment environment and risk assessment, and diversified project financing and financial support services, to help the industrial zones calibrate their standards to match top international economic and trade rules. Hong Kong can also introduce companies that are in line with the industrial zones’ positioning and development levels, and make use of the city’s long standing history of economic and cultural exchange with the ASEAN to strengthen soft power cooperation and build a good international image for the industrial zones.
Leveraging its position and strengths as an international trade center, particularly its extensive international sales network and brand building and marketing competence, Hong Kong can help the country steer its foreign trade to an even higher level under the new normal. For example, within the Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong can contribute to the unification of certification and quality control standards, creation of a platform for promoting quality products, enhancement of cross-boundary e-commerce services, expansion of product range, and provision of refined services in areas like product design, packaging and logistics, to lay the ground for Mainland businesses to “go global”.
Having been affected by the pandemic for three years, we must make up for lost time as normalcy is fully resumed for economic development. Through wholistic participation in the development of the Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong can accelerate its integration into the country’s development in the new era. With the country going all out to promote high-standard development and high-level opening-up, Hong Kong should make the most of its advantages to capture new opportunities.