LCQ12: Assisting Hong Kong enterprises in developing overseas markets
Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, to a question by the Hon Chung Kwok-pan in the Legislative Council today (February 20):
At the Legislative Council meeting on October 17 last year, the Chief Executive (CE) said that "[o]ur industrial, commercial and professional sectors have great potential for development in Hong Kong, the Mainland and overseas countries, but they may come across some obstacles in the course of development that cannot be removed without government assistance. For example, the difficulties encountered in making use of the preferential arrangements offered under CEPA (the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) and other schemes can only be resolved through collaboration between the HKSAR Government and the central or local authorities. This is the 'G2G' (Government to Government) approach that I advocate". However, some members of the industrial and commercial sectors have pointed out that in the 2013 Policy Address, CE only stressed the need to enhance "internal diplomacy" and did not mention how small and medium enterprises will be assisted in liaising with foreign governments and facing competition. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether the Government will strengthen the functions and business role of the overseas Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs), including negotiating with foreign governments under the G2G approach in promoting business development, so as to more proactively assist Hong Kong businessmen in tapping business opportunities abroad;
(b) whether the authorities will regularly review the need to set up new ETOs in regions with potential for tapping business opportunities in emerging markets; if they will, of the specific ideas, as well as when they will conduct such a review; and
(c) facing the speedy development of the surrounding economies, how the Government will assist Hong Kong businessmen in facing competition and developing new strengths?
(a) The overseas Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs) seek to promote bilateral economic and trade relations between Hong Kong and different regions. Throughout the years, ETOs are committed to promoting Hong Kong's trade development at the "Government to Government" level, including close liaison with local governments and exchange of views on issues of mutual concern.
With regard to the support provided for Hong Kong businessmen to explore overseas business opportunities, ETOs liaise closely with local government officials, business chambers and the media on a regular basis, and organise activities such as seminars to enhance their understanding of Hong Kong on the one hand, and to introduce Hong Kong's latest developments and advantages in various aspects on the other so as to encourage local enterprises to invest in Hong Kong or collaborate with Hong Kong enterprises to explore the Asian and Mainland markets. ETOs may also provide support for Hong Kong business and industry delegations visiting countries under their purview, and arrange visits with related enterprises, or meetings with relevant government departments, business chambers and overseas organisations, thus allowing Hong Kong businessmen to have a better understanding of overseas markets. Through the ETOs' arrangements, senior HKSAR Government officials will also meet with overseas senior officials from time to time to explore co-operation opportunities on commerce, finance and culture etc, and to promote the developments of different industries abroad.
(b) Taking into account the changing economic situation, staff of the overseas ETOs have visited different places under their respective coverage so as to assist Hong Kong businessmen to explore and tap into the emerging markets. For instance, the London ETO has strengthened its liaison in Russia in view of the vigorous development of the Russian economy recently. Similarly, the Singapore ETO has conducted numerous visits to various Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and organised different business and trade activities in recent years for Hong Kong enterprises to explore the ASEAN emerging markets. We will continue to monitor the situation in Asia or other emerging economic regions, and make appropriate use of the ETOs' current resources. We will also review the situation from time to time, and suitably increase resources when necessary so as to enhance the effectiveness of the concerned ETOs.
(c) The Government attaches great importance to the development of Hong Kong enterprises, especially SMEs, and is committed to creating and maintaining a conducive and business-friendly environment. Our policy in general is to provide sufficient support for Hong Kong enterprises so as to improve their competitiveness in the international market. As such, the Government has been providing support for Hong Kong enterprises in many ways. These include providing loan guarantee, facilitating enterprises to explore export markets, and providing export credit insurance. We have also provided the latest market information, technical support, as well as advisory services to the enterprises through various government departments and quasi-government organisations such as the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong Productivity Council.
Moreover, taking into account the regional developments, ETOs will reinforce and promote existing and new opportunities for business sectors, and enhance promotional activities in emerging markets. These include assisting the arrangement of overseas visits for Hong Kong business delegations to meet with more industry partners, thus facilitating Hong Kong businessmen to establish ties with local government and related organisations, and bringing in more business opportunities.
We will also pursue Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements with overseas countries in order to secure better protection of Hong Kong businessmen's investments overseas. We have agreed with Russia and Chile respectively to negotiate such an agreement and will strive for early conclusion of the negotiations. We are also seeking to join the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area so that our goods, services and investments can access the ASEAN market under more favourable conditions.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013