Soon after the release of the Outline Development Plan for the Greater Bay Area, the Leading Group for the Development of the GBA approved eight policy measures. These included providing tax relief to high-end talent from Hong Kong and Macao, and extending the coverage of the Home Visit Permit.
These will provide impetus for further integration between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, and help them leverage their complementary advantages.
The Hong Kong business community has been looking forward to these developments, and hopes more specific measures will be rolled out to smooth the “four flows” of people, goods, capital and information within the GBA. This once-in-a-century opportunity should be cherished.
As one of the GBA’s four core cities, Hong Kong has various functions and roles to serve. With its unique advantages under the “one country, two systems” principle, the city will surely give full play to its special status and strength by extending its international connections and experience to the Mainland to drive national development.
Some concerns have been raised that Hong Kong “is being planned,” or that Hong Kong will lose its status as the GBA develops. Indeed, these views are preposterous.
In my opinion, the further enhancement of the tax system in the GBA – for example the full implementation of “Hong Kong taxation for Hong Kong people” – will make the general public realize that the GBA development is beneficial to them as well.
I also suggest relaxing the current restrictions on professionals. Hong Kong residents should not need to take further professional exams in order to work in the GBA. This would be more convenient for Hong Kong people and further facilitate the “four flows” within the area.
In fact, we have seen that the Mainland is willing to further open up and is determined to promote a fair trade environment. For example, the draft Foreign Investment Law is of great significance, as it sets out clear provisions regarding expropriation and compensation as well as protection of intellectual property. These are some of the areas that foreign investors have been most concerned about.
The draft law will not make any changes to the legal arrangement for investment from Hong Kong. However, I hope some administrative rules will be issued to state explicitly that investors from Hong Kong and Macao will not be affected.
As for now, Hong Kong’s top priority is to seize the great opportunities arising from the GBA initiative by playing our unique role to promote cooperation.
In the meantime, the SAR Government should pay close attention to, and proactively reflect, business views to the Mainland authorities in order to achieve greater convenience and successful long-term development.