Dr Charles YEUNG (Chairman of the 48th, 49th terms of office) April 2016
As China deepens its development in all directions and actively constructs external connectivity, enormous business opportunities will be generated for Hong Kong, we must seize this rare opportunity.
Comprehensive strategic deployments regarding the “13th Five-year Plan” and the development of the “One Belt and One Road ” initiative have been proposed in the plenary meetings of NPC and CPPCC concluded last month. These are not only offering highlights onto the long term economic development of China, but also giving new momentum to propel Hong Kong’s future development. According to Premier Li Keqiang, the Central government fully supports the long term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. Hong Kong could exploit its strengths more to seize the development opportunities in the Mainland. In fact, CGCC has always been making recommendations to Mainland authorities and the SAR government on how to align with the construction of China. At this year’s CPPCC National Committee meeting, I shared my views on how to bring out Hong Kong’s unique edges in the scopes of finance and professional services.
A stronger role as an RMB offshore financing center
This is the first year of the “13th Five-year Plan”. In the dedicated chapter on Hong Kong and Macao, there is an emphasis on supporting Hong Kong in participating in the country’s two-way opening up and in the construction of the “One Belt and One Road” (OBOR) initiative, as well as on deepening financial collaboration and accelerating the progress of integrating and connecting both markets. It is expected that China’s active efforts in facilitating deepened reform and in constructing external connectivity will bring ample opportunities to Hong Kong. All sectors of our society should make good use of our strengths and fortes to fully support the development of China; we should also get prepared for new development opportunities.
We believe that the country’s active promotion of the strategic deployment of the OBOR initiative will generate significant capital financing requirements in the region and facilitate the internationalization of RMB. Hong Kong can step up its role and present itself to the Central government as the strongest candidate for the global RMB offshore financing hub over the development course of the OBOR initiative. For example, we could encourage the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund to establish their investment and financing headquarters in Hong Kong. We could also provide companies in the Mainland and those along the Belt and Road with the financial information, international collaboration and exchange, as well as complementing professional services as required. Moreover, Hong Kong should explore developing RMB-denominated financial and investment products, as well as attract state governments and companies along the Belt and Road to get listed, issue bonds and obtain syndicated loans in Hong Kong; a special focus can also be placed in developing the RMB bond market in Hong Kong.
Deepening collaboration in professional services
Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong collaboration in all directions is also an important development strategy in the “13th Five-year Plan”, especially through accelerating the construction of Guangdong-Hong Kong collaboration platforms such as Qianhai, Nansha, Hengqin, etc. to support Hong Kong’s major function in pan-Pearl River Delta cooperation. In fact, CGCC has spared no effort in driving the economic and trade cooperation in Guangdong and Hong Kong; and have kept making a good number of policy recommendations. We reckon that both Guangdong and Hong Kong can explore ways to further open up pilot locations for professional service cooperation under the framework of the Agreement between the Mainland and Hong Kong on Achieving Basic Liberalization of Trade in Services in Guangdong, so that more pioneering cooperation in professional services between Hong Kong and the Mainland can be carried out in Guangdong. This could, on one hand, actualize the liberalization of and offer more conveniences to the service trade between Guangdong and Hong Kong, and, on the other, gain more opportunities and room for further development in the Free Trade Zone.
We hope that Guangdong and Hong Kong could look at further relaxing the operational requirements of professional service sectors within the Free Trade Zone, and that a dedicated unit can be set up to assist Hong Kong professionals in handling the relevant registration and processing procedures. Both sides could also explore ways to jointly create a favorable environment for the development of the professional service sectors and recruitment of talents. Through perfecting incentive policies and complementing measures to attract talents, the competitiveness in the region’s professional service could be gradually nurtured and enhanced. In the long run, this could help drive the “going out” of Guangdong and Hong Kong’s professional service collaborations, offering the necessary professional service and complementing support to the countries along the Belt and Road.
All in all, as China deepens its development in all directions and actively builds external connectivity, enormous business opportunities will be generated for Hong Kong. We must seize this rare opportunity and catch up with the new development landscape of China, performing our role as the “super connector” between China and overseas countries. Together, we could contribute to China’s economic and social construction, and build an even brighter future for Hong Kong’s long term development.