Speech by SCED at Hong Kong Fintech Week 2022 (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Algernon Yau, at the Hong Kong Fintech Week 2022 today (November 1):
President Jin (President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Mr Jin Liqun), Christopher (Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui), Joseph (Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Joseph Chan), Clement (Chief Executive Officer of the Insurance Authority, Mr Clement Cheung), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
     Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you on the second day of the Hong Kong Fintech Week 2022. Let me start by welcoming all our audience today – whether you are attending in person, or joining us online from around the world. Your presence here means a lot to us – it shows your vote of confidence in Hong Kong, and your trust in Hong Kong as an ideal destination for fintech companies looking to operate or expand, locally, regionally and globally.
     No one would ever doubt that we are now living in a world of unprecedented challenges. COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, geopolitical tensions, as well as worrying economic indicators, have weakened the global economic outlook. As businesses around the world are finding bright sparks as growth momentum, I am delighted to share with you how Hong Kong may add value to overseas and Mainland businesses, especially our fintech companies.
     Hong Kong is one of the most competitive economies in the world, serving also as an important gateway connecting the Mainland with global markets. We have our own overriding advantages and enjoy abundant opportunities under our country's 14th Five-Year Plan, the Greater Bay Area development and the Belt and Road Initiative. At the same time, Hong Kong continues to do well in different areas and is ranked as the world's freest economy in the Economic Freedom of the World 2022 Annual Report by the Fraser Institute, which Hong Kong has gained the top rank since the inception of the report in 1996.
     As the Chief Executive announced last month in his maiden Policy Address, we are adopting a more proactive approach in "competing for enterprises and talents". We will put in place new institutional setups and implement an array of new initiatives targeted at attracting enterprises, investment and talents. On the investment promotion side, we will establish within this year the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises (OASES), to be led by the Financial Secretary, for attracting high-potential and representative strategic enterprises from around the globe, particularly those from industries of strategic importance, which of course include fintech companies, by offering special facilitation measures and one-stop services. This office will:
(i) draw up a list of target enterprises and provide steer to the Dedicated Teams for Attracting Businesses and Talents to reach out to and carry out negotiations with the enterprises;
(ii) formulate attractive special facilitation measures covering aspects such as land, tax and financing that are applicable exclusively to target enterprises, and provide them with tailor-made plans to facilitate the setting up of their operations in Hong Kong; and
(iii) provide the employees of these target enterprises with one-stop facilitation services in areas such as visa application and education arrangement for their children.
     The Government will also set aside $30 billion from the Future Fund to establish the Co-Investment Fund within this year for attracting enterprises to set up operations in Hong Kong and investing in their business.
     Indeed, Hong Kong is already a thriving hub for fintech companies including fintech start-ups. Over 800 fintech firms are active in a wide range of areas. They include everything from virtual banks and insurers to wealthtech, credittech, regtech, cybersecurity and fintech solutions for enterprises. With the new policy initiatives announced in the Policy Address, we are confident that Hong Kong will generate even more opportunities for fintech companies.
     To further support the growth of local and non-local fintech companies, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau offers a business-friendly environment, along with the robust support that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to thrive and flourish. In particular, we are keenly aware of SMEs' need of funding support to grow up. For instance, the well-received Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales (BUD Fund) and the SME Export Marketing Fund (EMF) help SMEs and start-ups upgrade their businesses and conduct promotional activities to develop the Mainland and other overseas markets. As of the end of August 2022, around HK$7.4 billion of funding has been approved under these two funding schemes to 58 000 enterprises, benefiting 440 000 employees.
     The SME Financing Guarantee Scheme (SFGS) helps SMEs obtain commercial loans. In particular, the 90% Guarantee Product under the SFGS helps businesses with relatively less operating experience and professionals seeking to set up their own practices seek financing from banks to meet their operational needs, while the Special 100% Guarantee Product helps address liquidity problems facing SMEs that suffer from economic downturn. In total, over HK$220 billion of loans have been extended to more than 50 000 enterprises under the SFGS.
     These funding schemes have been instrumental to the development of SMEs in Hong Kong, and transforming start-ups and scaleups into successful enterprises. We are happy to see a steady increase in startup numbers to record high levels, including fintech startups of course, as well as more people engaging in the fintech startup sector in Hong Kong. This clearly demonstrates the pulling power of our competitive landscape, with easy access to an international and regional market, a simple tax system and low tax rate, and vast business opportunities in the Greater Bay Area.
     With the compulsory quarantine measures lifted in September as well as the many new initiatives announced in the Policy Address, now is the perfect time for you to explore more about how Hong Kong can add value to your businesses. No matter if you are a multinational company planning to expand your fintech business in Hong Kong, or a startup trying to leverage the immense opportunities in Hong Kong to raise capital and look for investors, Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) is always here to help all companies and startups set up and expand in Hong Kong. Do not hesitate to contact my colleagues at InvestHK for assistance. Please also stay tuned about further developments as we proceed to finalise the setup of our new institution, OASES, by the end of this year.
     Enjoy the rest of the programme today and I wish you all the best of business. Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Issued at HKT 10:15