“Hong Kong is a gateway to China and the world,” Chan says, as he explains the Special Administrative Region’s unique role in the GBA. “It is the most international city, home to an established financial centre and has existing strengths in technology and innovation.”
Hong Kong’s world-class international aviation hub and role as an aviation training centre are making it a “world class airport cluster in the Greater Bay Area,” he says.
Similarly, Hong Kong is a technology hub within the GBA, supported by initiatives such as the Hong-Kong Shenzhen Technology Park, new pro-innovation government procurement policies, increased investment in local tech start-ups (the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund) and tax deductions for research and development expenditure.
Within the GBA, Hong Kong is also an established centre for international arbitration and dispute resolution, having a common law legal system and sizeable legal services industry. Hong Kong arbitral awards are enforceable in over 150 contracting international states.
Chan says these attributes mean it is easy for international investors to use Hong Kong as a base within the GBA.
Building business bridges
Hong Kong was Australia's 12th largest trading partner overall in 2018, with total two-way trade in goods and services worth $A17.8 billion. Exports of Australian goods and services to Hong Kong accounted for more than $A13 billion of this trade in 2018.
Australia and Hong Kong signed a new free trade agreement earlier this year, marking a significant step-up in this already substantial relationship.
Chan encourages Australian businesses and investors to consider and assess the diverse opportunities in the GBA and suggests financial services companies may be well placed to seize opportunities, with the GBA’s 70 million strong consumer classes actively seeking access to wealth management, superannuation and other financial services.
Similarly, given the GBA’s focus on innovation and technology, there is a need for reputable international education providers to partner on training and skills building in fintech, artificial intelligence, medical technology, robotics and other related areas.
The arts and cultural industries also offer great potential. Chan notes Australia’s cultural industries are globally regarded and there is a surging appetite from consumers in the GBA to access galleries, museums, theatre and other cultural activities.
And why is this soft power so important?
Ultimately, the GBA initiative is not just about Hong Kong into China, it’s about Hong Kong and China to the world.
Nick Henderson is the Director of Asialink Business’ China Practice, a leading Australian centre of excellence for practical business engagement with China. Drew Waters is the Head of Partnerships and Development for Asialink Business, and the former CEO of AustCham Hong Kong & Macau.