HKETO, Brussels promotes Belt and Road opportunities in Milan (English only)

     The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Brussels (HKETO, Brussels) explained to Italian companies at a seminar in Milan, Italy, on March 22 (Milan time) how Hong Kong can help them benefit from China's visionary Belt and Road Initiative. The seminar was co-organised by HKETO, Brussels with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the International Propeller Club of the Port of Milan and OMLOG.

     The Deputy Representative of HKETO, Brussels, Miss Alice Choi, who had been unable to fly from Brussels to Milan that morning following the bomb attack at Brussels Airport, addressed participants over the telephone. She explained the three-fold role Hong Kong will play under the Belt and Road Initiative, namely serving as an international financial centre, a trade and logistics platform and a platform for professional services.

     Miss Choi said that 350 Italian companies already have offices in Hong Kong, and that Italian business is well represented in sectors such as food and wine, banking, fashion and luxury goods, transportation, automotive manufacturing, trading and retail. After pointing out that Hong Kong and Italy's bilateral merchandise trade is growing at an average rate of 5.6 per cent a year, Miss Choi said, "We take pride in the fact that Hong Kong has always been the 'super-connector' connecting the Mainland with the rest of the world, and we stand ready to help Italian companies seize the far-reaching opportunities this project will provide."

     Miss Choi emphasised that Hong Kong is one of the most business-friendly places in the world and is famous for, among other aspects, its simple and low taxation system. "There is some very good news for Italian companies in this regard. The agreement signed between Hong Kong and Italy in 2013 for the avoidance of double taxation finally entered into force on August 10 last year, after its ratification by the Italian parliament," she added.

     Miss Choi said that the agreement has also addressed Italy's concerns about Hong Kong's commitment to enhancing tax transparency and combating cross-border tax evasion, and as a result Hong Kong has been removed from Italy's fiscal blacklist.

     She encouraged Italian entrepreneurs to seize the first-mover advantage in making good use of Hong Kong as the gateway to China and Asia. "The full implementation of the agreement provides excellent financial incentives for Italian companies to do business or invest in Hong Kong, where corporate tax is a maximum of 16.5 per cent of profits," Miss Choi said.

     Participants were also updated on Hong Kong's progress in developing its strengths in innovation and technology, in addition to consolidating its traditional pillar industries of financial services, tourism, trade and logistics.

     Noting that the Government is allocating more resources to promote fashion, Miss Choi said that, as announced by the Financial Secretary in his Budget Speech, Hong Kong will host the first Centrestage international fashion trade fair in September. Exhibitors at the fair will be able to showcase their latest collections to the Asian fashion industry.

     Following events in Venice, Italy, and Bucharest, Romania, on March 15 and 21 respectively, this was the third in a series of seminars on the same theme that HKETO, Brussels is organising or supporting. Further Belt and Road seminars will be held over the coming weeks and months, with the next being in Madrid (April 12) and Barcelona (April 13) in Spain and Brussels (April 20) in Belgium.

Ends/Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Issued at HKT 19:13