Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, San Francisco
Hong Kong
Belt-Road brings opportunities

Chief Executive Carrie Lam
At last count, more than 8,700 overseas and Mainland companies maintain an office in Hong Kong. Among them, 1,530 have chosen to set up regional headquarters here, representing an increase of 8% over a year ago. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's ranking in the World Bank's latest Doing Business Report has risen from the fifth to the fourth. That is testimony to Hong Kong's business-friendly environment, from our simple and competitive tax regime to the level playing field we offer all business, whatever they do and wherever they come from.

The Chief Executive, Mrs. Carrie Lam, speaks at the 20th Anniversary Reception of the International Chamber of Commerce - Hong Kong on November 26.
The Chief Executive, Mrs. Carrie Lam, speaks at the 20th Anniversary Reception of the International Chamber of Commerce - Hong Kong on November 26.

No less important, business works best when government is small and the environment encouraging. Hong Kong, built on free enterprise, inspires business confidence. As J P (Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce - Hong Kong, Mr. Lee Jark-pui) has just noted, the Washington-based Heritage Foundation has named Hong Kong the freest economy in the world for the past 24 years in its annual Index of Economic Freedom report. In explaining our top ranking, the Heritage Foundation said of Hong Kong, and I quote, "an exceptionally competitive financial and business hub" with "little tolerance for corruption", adding that "a high degree of transparency enhances government integrity". I do like those words, and what they say about Hong Kong. And I'm determined that my Government will continue to live up to them.

What makes Hong Kong unique is more than our business environment, as enabling as it may be. Our singular strength is the "one country, two systems" framework Hong Kong enjoys under the Basic Law. We will continue to take full advantage of this fundamental strength while at the same time play a more proactive role in functioning as a "facilitator" and a "promoter" and striving to expand our connections with the world.

A little over a week ago, I attended this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and met with a number of leaders. It was my 11th overseas trip and the 12th country visited since I took office last July. All these trips have been fruitful, allowing us to tell the world about the successful implementation of "one country, two systems", to explore new markets and to raise Hong Kong's profile in the world.

Less than two weeks ago, we concluded negotiations on a free trade agreement and a related investment agreement with Australia. That agreement and another with the Maldives which has also been concluded bring the number of free trade agreements we've signed or are about to sign to nine, involving 21 global economies. And in January next year, our free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, signed last November, will begin to take effect.

The Chief Executive, Mrs. Carrie Lam, attended the 20th Anniversary Reception of the International Chamber of Commerce - Hong Kong (ICCHK) on November 26. Photo shows (from front row, seventh left) Mrs. Lam; the Chairman of the ICCHK, M.r Lee Jark-pui; the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mr. Xie Feng; the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr. Edward Yau; and other guests proposing a toast.
The Chief Executive, Mrs. Carrie Lam, attended the 20th Anniversary Reception of the International Chamber of Commerce - Hong Kong (ICCHK) on November 26. Photo shows (from front row, seventh left) Mrs. Lam; the Chairman of the ICCHK, M.r Lee Jark-pui; the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mr. Xie Feng; the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr. Edward Yau; and other guests proposing a toast.

Opportunities brought by "one country" are all but boundless, thanks to the Belt & Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. This Greater Bay Area, encompassing Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in Guangdong Province, will create an enormous regional economy, one boasting nearly 70 million people and a GDP worth US$1.5 trillion. The infrastructure connecting Hong Kong to the Greater Bay Area is world-class, with the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge last month and the commissioning of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link in September.

The Belt & Road Initiative, designed to boost connectivity between the Mainland of China and countries spanning three continents, also offers unparalleled opportunities for Hong Kong business. Our financial and professional services sector, in particular, stands to gain, given the overwhelming need for investment capital that big-ticket infrastructure development demands.

We are also committed to promoting Hong Kong as an international dispute resolution center for the Belt & Road, as I noted in my Policy Address in October. Our plans include developing a Belt & Road Dispute Resolution Centre, providing a wide range of services to resolve cross-border disputes.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the International Chamber of Commerce - Hong Kong's 20th Anniversary Reception on November 26.


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