LCQ6: Work of steering committee for the Belt and Road and Belt and Road Office
Following is a question by the Hon Jimmy Ng and a reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, in the Legislative Council today (June 14):
In order to respond actively to the national policy on "the Belt and Road", the Hong Kong SAR Government set up a steering committee for the Belt and Road (the Steering Committee) as well as a Belt and Road Office (the Office) last year, and appointed a commissioner to steer the Office. Quite a number of members of the sector that I represent hope to invest and start business in the countries and regions along the Belt and Road. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as the authorities, in reply to a question raised by a Member of this Council in June last year, indicated that they were formulating the work plan for the first stage and would map out the organisation and functions of the Steering Committee and the Office, of the details of such work;
(2) whether the authorities have assessed the effectiveness of the various tasks undertaken by the Steering Committee and the Office since their establishment; if so, give some examples of the tasks that have been successfully accomplished; whether any difficulty has been encountered in the course of steering and co-ordinating the policy bureaux concerned to carry out their work; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) given that the Chief Executive led a cross-sectoral Hong Kong SAR delegation to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing on the 14th of last month, of the follow-up work to be carried out by the Steering Committee and the Office in the next step; whether they will examine the provision of financial support and tax concessions for the industrial activities conducted by local enterprises in the countries and regions along the Belt and Road, such as extending the scope of some support measures currently applicable only to local industrial and commercial activities to cover industrial activities outside Hong Kong?
Having consulted the Belt and Road Office, my reply to the question raised by the Hon Jimmy Ng is as follows:
(1) The Steering Committee for the Belt and Road (Steering Committee), chaired by the Chief Executive and comprising the Chief Secretary for Administration, the Financial Secretary, the Secretary of Justice, the relevant Directors of Bureaux and the Commissioner for Belt and Road (CBR), is responsible mainly for formulating strategies and policies for Hong Kong's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative.
At present, there are 15 officers (including staff on loan) in the Belt and Road Office (BRO), namely CBR, one Administrative Officer Staff Grade C, one Deputy Commissioner, one Senior Administrative Officer, three Trade Officers, one Executive Officer, one Personal Secretary, three Clerical Officer grade staff and one Motor Driver, as well as two non-civil service contract staff.
CBR assists the Chief Executive through the work of the Steering Committee and BRO to liaise with government bureaux and departments, as well as various sectors of the community, to better seize the new development opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative; and offers recommendations and advice to the Chief Executive and the Steering Committee on the formulation and implementation of strategies related to the Belt and Road Initiative.
(2) The Steering Committee has so far held five meetings. It has monitored the progress of the Belt and Road work plans of relevant bureaux and departments, and discussed important issues, including participation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (Forum) held in Beijing in May 2017, discussions with Mainland authorities on how to assist Hong Kong companies to participate in Belt and Road development, strategies to promote Hong Kong's edge, and to step up efforts to promote people-to-people bond.
Under CBR's leadership, BRO's work includes liaising and communicating with various stakeholders and offering advice and assistance, where appropriate, regarding the issues and suggestions raised by them.
BRO was also responsible for organising HKSAR's participation in the Forum. The Chief Executive led a 29 strong cross-sector delegation to attend the main activities of the Forum. He also gave a speech as a guest speaker at the Financial Integration thematic session, while other delegates attended other thematic sessions on different themes. To promote Hong Kong as a key link and "super-connector" under the Belt and Road Initiative as well as its unique edge and the contributions it can make, BRO has produced a promotion video and a compendium, and has also set up the BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE · HONG KONG website to provide information related to the Initiative.
Furthermore, to enable our young people to have a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges brought by the Belt and Road Initiative, BRO co-organised with relevant bureaux a Belt and Road Experience Sharing Forum on June 7. Four young entrepreneurs and professionals who have considerable experience working or taking part in projects in countries along the Belt and Road shared their experience and insight with some 400 young entrepreneurs, professionals and tertiary students. The Information Services Department arranged live webcast of the whole process.
BRO has been following the progress of our country's implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, and has been liaising closely with relevant bureaux or organisations so as to assist the bureaux to formulate suitable policies and measures in a timely manner for Hong Kong's participation in the Initiative. The awareness of our community about the Initiative and what it means to Hong Kong has increased. There is an increasing number of Belt and Road-related activities in the community. More people and organisations are interested in getting more information about the Belt and Road Initiative and how to take part in specific projects.
(3) The Joint Communique of the Leaders Roundtable of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (Joint Communique) was agreed at the Leaders Roundtable of the Forum. The Joint Communique reaffirms the commitment to uphold and advance the principle of open economy. Against the background of rising anti-globalisation and protectionism, the Belt and Road Initiative, which supports and facilitates international trade and investment, is of great significance. The HKSAR Government welcomes and supports the Joint Communique.
Furthermore, before and during the Forum, 76 items comprising more than 270 concrete results in five key areas (namely policy co-ordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bond) were achieved. They include measures and action plans drawn up by ministries, departments and related authorities of the Central People's Government, as well as memoranda of understanding, framework agreements, economic and trade co-operation agreements, bilateral co-operation documents, and loan/financing agreements that were entered into with other countries and organisations. BRO together with relevant policy bureaux will analyse the list of deliverables of the Forum, so that the new term Government, after discussion with various sectors, can formulate and implement suitable policies and initiatives in a timely manner.
On supporting local enterprises to participate in industrial and commercial activities in countries and regions along the Belt and Road, the SME Export Marketing Fund administered by the Trade and Industry Department provides financial assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with a view to encouraging them to participate in export promotion activities and develop external markets, including emerging markets in countries and regions along the Belt and Road. Moreover, the SME Development Fund (SDF) also provides financial support to non-profit-distributing organisations (including trade and industrial organisations, professional bodies, research institutes) to implement projects which aim at enhancing the competitiveness of Hong Kong SMEs in general or in specific sectors. The SDF has no regional restriction. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and need of local enterprises and provide appropriate support measures.
Ends/Wednesday, June 14, 2017