Arecent visit to the Chamber by Simon Peh, Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), served as a reminder of Hong Kong’s role as a global leader when it comes to transparency and creating a business-friendly environment. It also prompted me to think about some of the other areas where we are world leaders, and how we can leverage this expertise to expand our businesses, at home and overseas.
Here at the Chamber we are constantly working on ways to improve the environment for businesses in Hong Kong. Often, this involves focusing on the issues that impede companies, and trying to set them right through our lobbying efforts.
But we should also remember that we can foster growth by focusing on our many strengths, and by always looking for new ways to build on these attributes.
For example, Hong Kong is a beacon of anti-corruption in Asia and beyond. We are known around the planet as one of the cleanest places in the world to do business, and this is an impression that is regularly backed up by independent surveys.
Some of us will remember the days before the city cleaned up its act, and we appreciate the work of the ICAC to lay the foundations for Hong Kong to become the financial and commercial hub that it is today – and just as importantly, to keep it that way.
Hong Kong’s success in this area is recognized around the world, and earlier this year the ICAC set up a dedicated unit to work with other anti-corruption agencies, particularly in Belt and Road regions. Timor-Leste was the first to benefit, and the Commission has had discussions with its counterparts in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Kazakhstan about providing training.
The ICAC’s work outside Hong Kong shows not only that other places have the need for our expertise, but also that they are keen to learn from us and employ our services.
The same can be said for other areas where we are global leaders. Our legal, engineering and financial professionals are highly regarded internationally, and Hong Kong is already a hub for these sectors. And further opportunities are emerging.
The Greater Bay Area (GBA) initiative is driving huge infrastructure projects and manufacturing upgrades across the region – which are creating demand for just the sort of professional skills that Hong Kong can provide.
Furthermore, each of the 11 cities in the GBA is being encouraged to leverage its strengths. The GBA framework agreement proposes, among other things, to enhance Hong Kong’s status as an international financial and trade centre, promote the development of its professional services, and establish the city as a legal dispute resolution centre.
This policy framework means that other GBA cities are actively being encouraged to look to Hong Kong for these particular areas of expertise.
Beyond the GBA, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Hong Kong-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement are helping to open more doors for local businesses in Asia and further afield.
The opportunities are there for the taking. With its skilled workforce, professional expertise and global reputation, Hong Kong is perfectly positioned to grasp them.