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Thursday, January 14, 2016, 09:14

HK all out to embrace Belt and Road Initiative

By Shadow Li in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is going all out to engage itself in the Belt and Road Initiative to help every business sector in the city win investment opportunities arising from the nation-led strategy.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying himself will head a steering committee to formulate policies and strategies to embrace the initiative, along with a special Belt and Road Office, to coordinate inter-departmental policies.

Mo Pak-hung, associate professor of economics at Hong Kong Baptist University, welcomed the government’s move to lead the SAR in joining the project by building up networks and platforms for every sector to follow.

He urged the government to fully utilize its ample surplus and reserves by investing in the initiative, as Singapore is doing with its sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings, which has reaped billions of dollars in returns from investments in real-estate and infrastructure projects.

On the tourism front, Hong Kong’s tourism industry saw a year-on-year increase of 5 percent in the number of visitors from Southeast Asia and other countries in the last quarter of 2015, helping to offset the drop in mainland tourist arrivals.

A government source said Hong Kong will continue efforts to promote the city’s tourism by radiating its “City of Gourmets” reputation in countries along the Belt and Road route, while the Hong Kong Tourism Board will reveal a new round of tourism promotion efforts next month at the earliest.

Leung said MTR Corp will hold roadshows in member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to promote Hong Kong’s extensive experience in managing and designing railways.

MTR Corp said it was also tapping opportunities arising from the Belt and Road project, while the new MTR Academy will, in due course, offer rail-related programs for participants from outside Hong Kong.

Mo said the SAR has the upper edge in city planning and management, as well as urban sewage systems, which can be exported to developing economies along the Belt and Road route.

The government will also allocate resources for law and youth and non-governmental groups to blend in with the initiative, including setting aside HK$200 million to help the professional services industry in promotional and cooperation work.

Apart from a string of policies initiated to pursue opportunities across different sectors, the government plans to lure talents from states along the Belt and Road route by offering HK$1 billion worth of scholarships. Local high schools and institutions will also provide linguistic training to better equip youths in embracing the trend. Mo said that in the next decade, Hong Kong youths will be looking for opportunities elsewhere, especially in developing economies along the Belt and Road route and, in this respect, supporting education policies is necessary to fulfill the initiative.


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