Published: 21:31, May 24, 2024 | Updated: 21:33, May 24, 2024
Chan: HK ideal base for French firms to build businesses in Asia
By Wang Zhan in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po speaks at the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Europe (France) Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference in Paris, France, May 24, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

Hong Kong is the ideal base for French companies looking to tap into the vast opportunities offered by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and to build their businesses on the Chinese mainland and Asia, the city’s finance chief said on Friday.

Hong Kong is a core city and the international entry point of the GBA thanks to the "one country, two systems" principle, Paul Chan Mo-po said at the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Europe (France) Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference in the French capital, Paris.

“Through Hong Kong, you enjoy convenient and sometimes even priority access to the mainland market, while taking full advantage of our international character under ‘two systems’,” he said as he elaborated on the “boundless opportunities” for French businesses and investment.

READ MORE: Chan encourages French enterprises to pursue prospects in HK

While talking on the GBA’s vast consumer market, he said the cluster-city development boasts a per capita GDP of around $23,000, and on a purchasing power parity basis, is equivalent to around $40,000.

Indeed, French companies which come to Hong Kong for listing may access both international and mainland capital.

Paul Chan Mo-po, Financial Secretary, HKSAR

“The region's growing affluence presents a huge market for French goods.”

More than affluence and high connectivity, the GBA is a leader in innovation and technology, Chan said, adding that the Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou science and technology cluster has been ranked second globally for the past four years by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The rule of law is well tested and respected in Hong Kong, which also offers world-class professional services, he said. Hong Kong hosts around 1,500 foreign lawyers from 31 jurisdictions, and 73 foreign law firms from 19 jurisdictions, the financial secretary added.

“For French businesses, Hong Kong uniquely stands out in a few areas: as an international financial center, an innovation and technology hub, a transnational supply-chain management hub, and a leader in green and sustainable development.”

Pointing out that Hong Kong has long been one of the world's leading international financial centers, he said more than 70 of the top 100 global banks and seven of the world's top 10 insurance companies operate in the city.

A unique feature that distinguishes the SAR from other IFCs is its mutual-market access programs with the mainland, “or what we call the "Connect Schemes”, he said.

READ MORE: HK, France ink pact on film, TV cooperation at Cannes

“Indeed, French companies which come to Hong Kong for listing may access both international and mainland capital.”

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po (back row, sixth left), Governor of Guangdong province Wang Weizhong (back row, seventh left), and other guests witness project signing at the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Europe (France) Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference in Paris, France, May 24, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

As the world's largest offshore Renminbi business hub, Hong Kong offers a multitude of RMB-denominated investment and risk-management products, he said. French companies can come to Hong Kong to raise funding in RMB to support their business growth on the mainland or invest in the city their RMB holdings from trade receipts.

The city’s scientific research capabilities are excellent, with five of its universities ranked among the global top 100, two of its medical schools among the world's top 40, he said, adding that Hong Kong is also home to numerous world-class scholars and research institutes.

As an international green tech and green finance center, Hong Kong is connecting global green funds and green projects in our part of the world. “We are Asia's leader in green and sustainable finance. Last year, green bonds arranged in Hong Kong accounted for one-third of the entire Asian market.”

“Our doors and arms, are wide open for business and talent from France and from around the world.”

Saying that the SAR is welcoming talent from all over the world, the finance chief said, “Our Top Talent Pass Scheme, launched in December 2022, and other talent programs, are making a decided difference.”

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po (second right); Governor of Guangdong province Wang Weizhong (first right); and Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao Special Administrative Region Ao Ieong U (second left) exchange views with guests from the French commercial and industrial sector before the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Europe (France) Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference in Paris, France, May 24, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

The response to the city’s talent initiatives has been overwhelming, with more than 290,000 applications received to date and 180,000 approved. Around 120,000 people have already arrived in Hong Kong, he added.

Pointing out that the SAR is home to over 10,000 French citizens and some 340 French companies, he said that the French community is helping to build Hong Kong's flourishing future.

Guangdong Governor Wang Weizhong, Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao Special Administrative Region Ao Ieong U, and Vice-President of the Society for the Encouragement of National Industry Gilles-Henry Garault were those who attended the event.