Dr. Charles Yeung 【President】
Silver Bauhinia Star, JP
Ushering in the Year of the Horse, I would like to wish all Committee Members, members and friends of CGCC great success in their every endeavor.
The Chief Executive presented his second Policy Address last month. It put forward specific social and livelihood-related measures to alleviate poverty, care for the elderly, support youth education and accelerate land and housing planning. These apart, the policy blueprint also highlighted the deepening of economic partnership with the Mainland and the promotion of industry diversification. This not only manifests the HKSAR Government’s strong commitment to enhance the long-term development and overall competitiveness of our economy, but will also provide a positive boost for Hong Kong businesses to bolster their existing advantages and build up future growth.
While looking forward to early announcement on specific arrangements for policy proposals on promoting sustainable economic development, I hope the HKSAR Government can offer the business community, particularly SMEs, appropriate support in exploring new business opportunities. To this end, I would like to share some personal ideas.
Leverage on CEPA to Strengthen Guangdong-Hong Kong Economic Ties
The Policy Address said the HKSAR Government will take an active role in the PRD region’s development and support Guangdong Province’s plan to build a free trade zone. These proposed ideas are consistent with CGCC’s long-standing mission of furthering economic cooperation between Hong Kong and Guangdong. In fact, the liberalization of Guangdong-Hong Kong service trade by the end of this year is a high priority in the policy agendas for Guangdong-Hong Kong partnership of the two sides’ governments. Besides, CEPA measures on service sectors have been piloted in Guangdong for many years, and this arrangement provides an important platform for Hong Kong and Guangdong service businesses to speed up their interaction and collaboration.
In my view, the HKSAR Government can forge closer ties with the Guangdong Government to seek greater breakthroughs by opening up more service sectors under CEPA. For example, by drawing reference from the “negative list” put into practice in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), the authorities may use the unallowable items on the list as a basis and deduct from it the items already allowed for Hong Kong service sectors’ operation in Guangdong, and then the residual items can form a basis for negotiation on the new “negative list” for the pilot implementation of service-related CEPA measures in Guangdong. In addition, the list should be revised from time to time as actual circumstances warrant so that it can facilitate deeper and more efficient Guangdong-Hong Kong cooperation in service industries.
On the work supporting the establishment of a Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao FTZ, the HKSAR Government is expected to more proactively liaise with the Guangdong Government to have extensive discussion and forward-looking studies on matters, such as sectors to be opened up and cooperation models. The existing model for Hong Kong’s cooperation with new economic planning districts such as Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin should also be refined to serve as a blueprint for promoting the development of the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao FTZ in future. The business community of Hong Kong should also take active part in investment and development in these new economic planning districts, laying a solid foundation for long-term economic cooperation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau region as a whole.
Investing in R&D and Forging Partnership among Government, Business and Academic Sectors
The Policy Address also proposed policy support for sectors with competitive edges, which include professional services, logistics, high value-adding maritime services, creative and intellectual property industries. As another highlight, the idea of developing “bridgehead economy” on Lantau Island was put forward. I believe these proposals would be crucial for maintaining Hong Kong’s long-term competitive edge, improving its business environment and fostering stability in its labor market.
To encourage the upgrading, transformation and diversification of local industries, strong support and resource commitment in R&D are essential. Therefore, I very much agree with the HKSAR Government’s proposal to re-initiate the setting up of an Innovation and Technology Bureau as an arm to work with various sectors to formulate policy objectives for promoting innovation and technology development and to provide extensive support for enhancing relevant industries’ competitiveness and growth potential. I suggest the new bureau should oversee the allocation of resources, including direct funding support, and the formulation of relevant policy measures. It should also encourage closer partnership among the government, the business community and academia, so that the R&D results of universities and other academic institutions can be commercialized and effectively marketed by business sectors. In this way, Hong Kong can build its own brand name and offer premium services.
In short, I agree with what the Chief Executive said in the conclusion of his Policy Address that it is imperative to pursue people’s livelihood and the economy in tandem. I strongly believe that while paying heed to livelihood and welfare needs, the Government must also augment economic development in order for our economy and society to grow in a sustained and steady manner. I hope the HKSAR Government can create a better business environment and render suitable support for industry development. Meanwhile, I would like to call on the business community to support the policy measures proposed in the Policy Address. Let’s join hands to build a rosy future for our city.