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Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 22:34
ASEAN presents golden opportunities for HK
By Lin Wenjie in Hong Kong
Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 22:34 By Lin Wenjie in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's Commissioner for Belt and Road Yvonne Choi attends a seminar as a keynote speaker to promote Hong Kong's strengths under the Belt and Road Initiative in Thailand in May 2017. (Source: beltandroad.gov.hk)

Association of Southeast Asian Nations economies are undergoing a development process similar to the one that transformed the Chinese mainland three decades ago, Hong Kong Trade Development Council research shows.

The immense growth potential and rising consumer demand provide tremendous opportunities for Hong Kong’s business sector, the council’s research found.

HKTDC Principal Economist (Asian and Emerging Markets) Dickson Ho emphasized this development at a media briefing in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

“Take Indonesia and Vietnam for example, government funding is in short supply and domestic companies have yet to build up their expertise and business portfolios, so they are in desperate need for foreign investment and expertise across a wide variety of sectors and projects,’’ Ho said.

ALSO READ: 'HK-ASEAN FTA to enhance cooperation under B&R Initiative'

“This is clearly something Hong Kong is well-positioned to help with,” he added.

The SAR, as an international financial center, has a long track record when it comes to project financing, initial public offerings, bond issuance and foreign-exchange trading, he said.

The city is also geared up to provide syndicated loans, facilities which could fund many of ASEAN’s large-scale infrastructure projects.

On the other hand in Malaysia and Thailand, where local businesses are more developed, companies require foreign expertise on specific technical requirements or the more niche sectors. This includes waste management, water management, green technology and designing the overall model for transport operations.

HKTDC conducted field research trips to these four ASEAN countries in July to identify specific infrastructure development opportunities for Hong Kong businesses.

 “More and more ASEAN companies began to engage capable and experienced overseas consultants to deliver infrastructure and construction projects to an international standard, which is believed to spur demand for Hong Kong’s architectural design, consultancy, engineering, surveying, project management and other related services,” Ho said.

ASEAN consumers also regard Hong Kong as a lifestyle trendsetter and a hub for trendy products

Dickson Ho, HKTDC Principal Economist (Asian and Emerging Markets) 

He said that Hong Kong companies, with their international practices and business models, aided infrastructure development on the mainland and in overseas markets. They will be a top choice for ASEAN companies.

A significant number of mainland enterprises have established offshore headquarters in Hong Kong and such enterprises are the primary driving forces behind Belt and Road-related investment. As some small local firms may not have enough capacity to invest in ASEAN countries alone, they can team up with mainland companies to engage in investments in ASEAN countries.

On the consumer side, as more and more people in ASEAN countries seek quality and unique products and services, Hong Kong merchandisers could take the opportunity to offer good design and quality goods, an HKTDC survey finds.

Ho said: “Many Hong Kong brands are well known among ASEAN middle-class consumers, who would like to see more of these introduced to their home countries.

“And ASEAN consumers also regard Hong Kong as a lifestyle trendsetter and a hub for trendy products, while perceiving Hong Kong products and services as being mid-to-high end,” he added.

Merchandise trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN amounted to HK$833 billion last year and total services trade between the two sides reached HK$121 billion in 2015.

ASEAN ranked sixth among destinations for outward direct investment from Hong Kong at the end of 2015, and sixth among sources of inward direct investment.

Free trade agreement negotiations between Hong Kong and ASEAN, which had lasted three years, were completed in July and both sides will sign the agreement in November.

READ MORE: HK, ASEAN conclude Free Trade Agreement negotiations

cherrylin@chinadailyhk.com


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