Last month, the Central Government promulgated four important measures closely related to the development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA). These are the plans to open up and develop two cooperation zones – in Qianhai and Hengqin – and the launch of the Cross-boundary Wealth Management Connect Pilot Scheme and Southbound Trading under Bond Connect.
I believe such measures will encourage the three locations to work together to take the development of the GBA to the next level. The Connect schemes will consolidate Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre and offshore RMB hub, thereby offering a wider and smoother path for professionals and companies to develop and leverage on their strengths, as we look forward to the post-pandemic era.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the global economy. However, the Mainland’s success in containing the pandemic has enabled it to take the lead in economic recovery, and also provides huge opportunities for Hong Kong.
In particular, the launch of Southbound Trading under Bond Connect enhances connectivity and will help attract Mainland and overseas institutions to issue bonds in Hong Kong, boosting the overall development of the city’s financial sector.
To promote the vibrant development of the bond market, the next step should be to allow individual investors to buy bonds – it should be as easy to buy bonds as it is to purchase shares.
The official launch of the Wealth Management Connect scheme is also a significant step. Individual investors across the GBA can now make cross-boundary investment in a wide range of wealth management products in each other’s markets. This will promote the flow of RMB across the border and further strengthen Hong Kong’s role as an offshore RMB business hub.
In short, these four measures present unlimited opportunities for the community and businesses in Hong Kong to tap into. But despite the fact that we have all the right ingredients to seize the many opportunities, the question facing Hong Kong now is when the border with the Mainland will be reopened.
In my opinion, until this happens, Hong Kong will continue to suffer and our economy will struggle to recover. Resumption of cross-border travel is the solution to many of our problems, and will allow Hong Kong to take action instead of helplessly watching the opportunities on the other side of the border pass us by.
As the pandemic has stabilized in the Mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, I have called on the HKSAR Government time and again to lobby the Central Government to partially resume two-way travel across the border. Setting up a GBA channel should be a priority to allow fully vaccinated business travellers and those with compassionate reasons to travel without quarantine within the region.
Only when people and goods can flow freely within the GBA will we be able to fully seize the opportunities arising from the region and achieve a win-win situation.