Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Belt & Road initiative creates opportunity

Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Gregory So

The Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office has already been established in Brussels for many years. Our reason for establishing the office in Brussels is, of course, because it is the capital of the European Union.


The EU is Hong Kong's second largest trading partner. This year, new initiatives such as the Belt & Road and the EU Investment Plan have added further opportunities for cooperation between the EU and Hong Kong..


Speaking of Belt & Road initiatives, this is a very important development strategy designed to enhance connectivity and co-operation, and integrate China more fully into the world economy. The "Belt" refers to the New Silk Road Economic Belt, which will link China with Europe through Central and Western Asia. The "Road" is the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. This sea route will connect China with Southeast Asian countries, as well as Africa and Europe.


The Belt & Road will generate demand and increase the volume and intensity of international trade and investment flows among countries on the routes, as well as the two-way traffic in and out of China. Hong Kong is well placed to serve as the super-connector for all these exciting developments.


For example, being an important financial, commercial and maritime centre in the world, Hong Kong will provide a wide range of professional services for Chinese enterprises to go global in pursuit of the Belt & Road opportunities.


Investment springboard

For European companies with investment and operations in Hong Kong, the Belt & Road initiative represents new business and new opportunities. We encourage European businesses to make use of Hong Kong as an investment springboard or a logistics hub when they venture into the markets of the Belt & Road countries.


You may ask, why is Hong Kong your ideal business partner? First, the location. Hong Kong is strategically located at the heart of Asia - at the doorstep of Mainland China and the Southeast Asian region. We serve as China's global financial centre and the premier gateway for business into and out of Mainland China. We can add value to business processes for European companies hoping to gain access to the huge Mainland China and Asian markets.


We also have an open and business-friendly environment with low and simple taxes. We practise the rule of law, underpinned by judicial independence. We embrace the internationally recognised codes of practice in business that are familiar to European businesses. And we guarantee a level playing field for all companies, and free flows of capital, information and talent.


In a nutshell, Hong Kong provides the right financial, legal and cultural environment for European firms to succeed in our part of the world. Indeed, you would expect nothing less from an economy that is consistently ranked as the freest in the world. We have retained the top spot in the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom for 21 years in a row. This status reflects real advantages for doing businesses with Hong Kong and in Hong Kong.


Marketing platform

What else? Hong Kong is also a significant marketing platform for European companies to showcase their premium products. With a population of just 7 million, we received about 61 million visitors last year, including more than 47 million from Mainland China.


It is no secret that Mainland Chinese visitors recognise brands and products they see in Hong Kong as something reliable and of premium quality. This explains why you can find almost all key European brands in Hong Kong, ranging from beer and chocolates to fashion and cars, which are all well sought after.


Hong Kong has always been the super-connector connecting Mainland China with the rest of the world. As your friend and business partner in Asia, Hong Kong is ready to facilitate your ventures and help grow your businesses.


I invite and encourage you all to make greater use of Hong Kong's unique advantage in terms of our physical proximity with the Mainland, as well as our first-class infrastructure and our highly competitive business and professional services.


Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Gregory So made these remarks at a gala dinner organised by Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, Brussels, in Brussels.

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