Toronto ETO hosts business seminar in celebration of 20th anniversary of HKSAR (with photos)
In her opening remarks, the Director of Toronto ETO, Miss Kathy Chan, said that Hong Kong is an excellent place to do business. "Apart from being an open and free market providing a level playing field for businesses from around the world, Hong Kong offers many other unparalleled advantages, such as our rule of law, our independent judiciary, our clean and efficient government, our simple tax regime with low tax rates, our bilingual proficiency in English and Chinese, and our rich pool of professional talent," she said. She also said that the Chief Executive of the HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, had just announced in her Policy Address last week that two important tax measures would be implemented. "First, we will lower the corporate profits tax rate for the first $2 million earned by enterprises (about CAD300,000) by half from 16.5 per cent to 8.25 per cent. Secondly, additional tax deduction will be provided to encourage research and development (R&D) investment - the first $2 million eligible R&D expenditure (about CAD300,000) will enjoy as much as 300 per cent tax deduction with the remainder at 200 per cent," she added.
Over the past two decades, Hong Kong has been strengthening its role as the best gateway for businesses from around the world to tap into the massive markets of Mainland China. Quoting a prominent example, Miss Chan said, "In 2003, Hong Kong and Mainland China signed a Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). The Arrangement provided more and better access for goods and services of Hong Kong into the Mainland China market." The content of the Arrangement has been enhanced continuously, she added. Today, under CEPA, Hong Kong can enjoy more preferential investment access than any other external investor in a wide range of services and non-services sectors in Mainland China. Canadian businesses can make use of this nationality-neutral arrangement to enjoy the benefits provided under CEPA by establishing a presence in Hong Kong or by working with a Hong Kong partner.
On top of CEPA, Hong Kong will actively participate in the development of the Hong Kong-Guangdong-Macao Bay Area, a mega city cluster with a population of over 66 million and a GDP comparable to that of Korea or Australia. Two important transport infrastructure projects will be commissioned in the Bay Area in the next two years, greatly enhancing Hong Kong's connectivity to Mainland China, said Miss Chan. "First, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will substantially shorten travelling time from Zhuhai to Hong Kong airport from four hours to 45 minutes. Second, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will connect Hong Kong to Guangzhou in as little as one hour." Miss Chan added that, riding on these two projects, Hong Kong will seek further measures from the central authorities to facilitate the flow of people, goods and capital between Hong Kong and other cities in the Bay Area, and it is expected that this will bring further enormous opportunities to businesses operating in Hong Kong.
Miss Chan said that apart from Mainland China, Hong Kong is also an ideal gateway to Southeast Asia, a fast-growing region with a rapidly expanding middle class. To further strengthen trade relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Hong Kong has been pursuing a free trade agreement with ASEAN. She noted that both sides had just concluded negotiations in September, and expect to sign the free trade agreement and a related investment agreement this November. "When the agreements come into force, Canadian companies can enjoy the facilitation measures to tap into the ASEAN market if they use Hong Kong as a base in Asia or partner with Hong Kong service providers," she said.
Looking beyond Mainland China and Southeast Asia, Miss Chan said Hong Kong is ready to partner with Canadian entrepreneurs to capture opportunities in the Belt and Road Region too. "The Belt and Road Initiative promulgated by the Chinese government is about enhancing connectivity amongst the relevant countries and regions, expanding trade and investment, and increasing people-to-people connections. There will be lots of opportunities ranging from infrastructure to trade and investment. Hong Kong's strategic location at the centre of Asia, our status as an international financial centre, our deep pool of professional talent, especially in consulting, risk assessment, project management, legal advisory and dispute resolution services, and our extensive international trade networks can help Canadian businesses to tap into the vast market of the Belt and Road Region," she said. Miss Chan added that the HKSAR government has been discussing with the central authorities with the aim of entering into an agreement by the end of this year on Hong Kong's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative. "We will explore the establishment of an information-sharing platform for Belt and Road projects so that enterprises will have a better grasp of relevant information to facilitate more effective project interfacing and enterprise collaboration," she said.
Today's seminar comprised two panel discussions. The first panel discussed why Hong Kong is the gateway to Asia and beyond for Canadian companies. Speakers included Alberta Senior Representative for the Asia Pacific Basin, Mr Ron Hoffmann; the Director of Research of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Mr Nicholas Kwan; and the Principal of JET, Mr Jeff Leung. The President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in North America, Mr Robert Armstrong, was the moderator.
The second panel looked into the start-up environment in Hong Kong and opportunities for Canadian companies. Speakers included the Director of Academic Entrepreneurship of the Ontario Centres of Excellence, Dr Martin Croteau; the founder and CEO of APrivacy Limited, Dr Cedric Jeannot; and the CEO of Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, Mr Herman Lam. Partner of the China Practice Group of McMillan, Mr Rajeev Dewan, was the moderator.
The Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion of Invest Hong Kong of the HKSAR Government, Mr Charles Ng, gave a keynote speech on Hong Kong's advantages at the lunch.
Ends/Friday, October 20, 2017
Issued at HKT 6:15
Issued at HKT 6:15