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Thursday, September 1, 2016, 22:10

B&R brings opportunities for HK constructors

By Dara Wang
B&R brings opportunities for HK constructors
Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po (left) with President of Hong Kong Institution of Highways and Transportation Albert Cheng Ting-ning at a conference in Hong Kong on Thursday. They are encouraging local enterprises in the construction industry to collaborate with mainland counterparts in construction projects under the Belt and Road Initiative. (Provided to China Daily)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong construction industry should take advantage of design consulting and knowledge of international standards to actively participate in the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative, speakers told a conference co-organized by Hong Kong Institution of Highways and Transportation (HKIHT) on Thursday.

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said the B&R covering over 60 countries and regions across Asia, Africa and Europe is now facilitating trade, economics, infrastructure and investment among the participants. He encouraged enterprises in Hong Kong, especially those in the construction industry, to embrace the initiative and seek more opportunities in the global market.

The investment demand on infrastructure construction in Asia is estimated at some $8 trillion by 2020, said Xing Houyuan, vice-president of China Outsourcing Institution under the Ministry of Commerce. While many contractors from the Chinese mainland operate on a large scale with a recognizable and good reputation, they are weak in project pre-planning and are unfamiliar with the financial and legal environments in many countries and regions, Xing said.

Hong Kong’s construction consulting companies can help facilitate the project approval process through detailed design consulting in accordance with high standards, said Albert Cheng Ting-ning, president of HKIHT.

They can also take advantage of the good understanding of international technical requirements and project management experience to help smooth communication and cooperation with local governments and stakeholders, especially in Southeast Asia, said Ian Chung Siu-ping, vice-president of AECOM’s Civil and Infrastructure in Greater China.

Through collaboration between China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC) and AECOM, the Second Penang Bridge in Malaysia was completed in 2014. This is the world’s top long-span bridge, designed by CHEC in Malaysia, where AECOM played an important role in speeding up the project approval process and providing technical support, Chung said.

Aside from transportation, Hong Kong enterprises also have the edge of professional excellence in various market sectors including power, telecoms and water systems, and that brings broad collaboration opportunities, Chung said.

Talking about the difficulties faced by Hong Kong’s construction industry, Xing pointed out that the city’s construction market has been saturated in the era of post-industrialization. She said enterprises must seek opportunities overseas due to the limited local market size.

By partnering with mainland constructors under the initiative, Hong Kong’s enterprises can bid for large international projects and receive financing from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Xing said.

President of China Highway and Transportation Society Weng Mengyong attached great importance to talent nourishing. Weng said the B&R is a long-term strategy, the beneficial impacts of which will unfold over several decades. Thus the young generation in the industry is key to its sustainable development. He admired many young adults in Hong Kong who have studied overseas and expected them to play a greater role on the global stage under the initiative.

However, Cheng from the HKIHT noted that Hong Kong’s young people engaged in the construction industry seemed to lack the spirit to bear hardship as well as knowledge of market demand in developing countries.

Cheng hoped the government could start a talent exchange program among construction enterprises on the mainland and Hong Kong to foster mutual understanding and strengthen cooperation at an early stage.

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