Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Toronto) (HKETO), Miss Kathy Chan, visited Montreal on May 25 and 26 to promote Hong Kong as an ideal gateway for Canadian enterprises to tap into the markets of Mainland China and beyond.
In delivering the welcome address at the 2018 National Conference organised by Hong Kong-Canada Business Association in Montreal on May 25, Miss Chan updated participants about the latest developments of Hong Kong. She noted the unparalleled advantages of doing business in Hong Kong including an open and free market, a level playing field for all businesses, the rule of law, a clean and efficient government, simple tax regime with low tax rates, and a rich pool of professional talents.
In particular, Miss Chan remarked that Hong Kong has implemented a new two-tiered profits tax system since April 2018, under which the profits tax rate for the first HK$2 million profits earned by incorporated businesses has been reduced from 16.5% to 8.25%. Additional tax deductions would also be provided for eligible research and development expenditure incurred by enterprises.
Apart from the ease of doing business, Hong Kong is an excellent gateway to Mainland China. In 2003, Hong Kong and Mainland China signed a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) to provide more and better access for goods and services of Hong Kong into the Mainland China market. The content of the Arrangement has been enhanced continuously. “Today, under CEPA, Hong Kong can enjoy more preferential investment access than any other external investor in a wide range of services and non-services sectors on Mainland China”, Miss Chan said. She encouraged Canadian businesses to make use of this nationality-neutral arrangement to enjoy the benefits provided under CEPA by establishing a presence in Hong Kong or by working with a Hong Kong partner.
On top of CEPA, Hong Kong is actively participating in the new national strategy of the Chinese government of developing the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (the Bay Area). It will expand the hinterland of Hong Kong and create a lot more opportunities to people and businesses of Hong Kong and around the world. In addition, two new infrastructure projects would be commissioned later this year which would greatly enhance Hong Kong's connectivity to other places in the Bay Area. "The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will substantially shorten travelling time from Zhuhai to Hong Kong airport from four hours to 45 minutes, and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will connect Hong Kong to Guangzhou in as fast as 48 minutes," Miss Chan elaborated.
Apart from Mainland China, the close trade relations between Hong Kong and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) make the city the best gateway to explore the Southeast Asian market. “To capture the huge business potential presented by the fast-growing ASEAN market, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has signed a new free trade agreement and a related investment agreement with ASEAN last year. These agreements will bring us more and better access to the ASEAN market,” Miss Chan said. When the agreements come into effect after completion of the necessary procedures, Canadian companies can enjoy the facilitation measures if they use Hong Kong as a base in Asia or partner with Hong Kong businesses.
Looking beyond Mainland China and ASEAN, Hong Kong is ready to partner with Canadian entrepreneurs to tap into the huge opportunities in the Belt and Road Region. The Initiative promulgated by the Chinese government is about enhancing connectivity amongst the relevant countries, expanding trade and investments and increasing people-to-people connections. “The Belt and Road Initiative will bring lots of opportunities ranging from advanced technological know-how and materials required for infrastructure building to associated logistics and financial services, as well as consumer products. Hong Kong's strategic location at the centre of Asia together with its unique business advantages make the city well-positioned to partner with Canadian companies to venture into the Belt and Road Region”, Miss Chan said.
Before closing, Miss Chan took the opportunity to invite Canadian entrepreneurs to join the third annual Belt and Road Summit to be held in Hong Kong on June 28 this year, so as to obtain the latest developments about the Initiative and meet potential business partners in the Belt and Road region.
The National Conference looks into the latest economic developments of China and the rest of Asia, as well as showcases how Canadian companies can use Hong Kong as the platform to tap into the opportunities presented by, amongst others, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative. HKETO is the lead sponsor of the event.
After the National Conference, Miss Chan attended HKCBA's National Board Meeting on May 26 and returned to Toronto on the same day.