Speaking at the Two Sessions meetings in Beijing last month, Premier Li Keqiang remarked that 60 million new businesses had registered in China’s urban areas in the past five years. This incredible figure highlights the dynamism of the Mainland economy, and is also a reminder of the huge commercial potential as the nation continues its development.
The government also announced a growth target of above 6% for 2021: a relatively modest goal compared to past years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But as global vaccination programmes gather momentum, the Mainland’s successful recovery will inevitably present more investment opportunities and a still-growing consumer market for companies in Hong Kong.
During the meetings, President Xi Jinping specifically mentioned healthcare and education as key areas of focus. Here in Hong Kong, we have achieved world-class standards in both these sectors for many years, and we can attest to how important they are to facilitate the development of a prosperous society.
Greater investment in health and education will certainly benefit Mainland citizens, and will also provide new opportunities for Hong Kong companies. A number of Chamber members in the healthcare and education spheres have expanded into the Mainland in recent years with tremendous success, particularly in the Greater Bay Area. With the Chinese economy continuing to grow, coupled with a strong appetite for top-quality healthcare products and education – this demand is only set to soar.
Innovation-driven technology and greener development also remain outstanding opportunities as the Government increases spending and tax incentives to encourage green and high-tech industries.
For Hong Kong and global businesses keen to access these and other opportunities, there is further good news in the plans to remove barriers. Premier Li said in his work report that the nation would further shorten its negative list, opening up more sectors to foreign direct investment (FDI). This ongoing process to encourage investment is having an impact: according to the Ministry of Commerce, in the first two months of 2021, FDI expanded 31.5% year-on-year to RMB 176 billion, while FDI in services grew 48.7% in the same period.
Of particular interest to many Hong Kong companies will be the plan to further open up the services sector, through new pilot schemes. As the business community here starts to plan for a post-Covid landscape, we are very happy to hear of these potential new opportunities. We look forward to hearing more details on these plans and how Hong Kong companies can access them in the near future.