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24 January, 2011 - 12:45 By Tony Quested

A Guide to exporting to Hong Kong


Already a hub for international trade for over 200 years, today Hong Kong is the largest re-exporter in the world. Add to that its position as a leading financial centre, with the sixth largest Stock Exchange in the world, and it becomes clear that to have a business presence in Hong Kong is to have a serious presence on the world stage.

01.Safe and stableSince sovereignty was handed back to China in 1997, Hong Kong couldn’t be a more safe and stable location for business. It continues to follow the English Common Law tradition established during British rule, with a legal system completely independent from China’s. On handover, an agreement was made that Hong Kong would be governed as a special administrative region, retaining its laws and a high degree of autonomy for at least fifty years.

02.Laissez-faire governmentThe Government of Hong Kong SAR mostly leaves the direction of the financial industry to market forces and the private sector. With its official policy of "positive non-interventionism", Hong Kong is often cited as an outstanding example of laissez-faire capitalism. Indeed, Hong Kong’s highly developed capitalist economy is ranked Freest in the World by the Index of Economic Freedom (compiled by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal). It has been awarded this accolade for the past fifteen years.

03.Business firstBusiness comes first in Hong Kong, with everything geared towards their success. This couldn’t be better illustrated than the World Bank’s judgment that Hong Kong is third in its Ease of Doing Business Index, compared with every country in the world. Higher rankings indicate better, simpler, regulations for businesses, and stronger protection of property rights.

04.Asian footholdA presence in Hong Kong gives businesses a crucial foothold in Asia. It has become both a precursor to, and symbol of, success. The fact that Hong Kong has one of the greatest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region speaks volumes.

05.Strong economyThe economy of Hong Kong is strong and growing. A GDP of US$215 billion has grown in the last quarter of 2009 by +2.5 per cent and the first quarter of 2010 by +8.2 per cent. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remains stable and very low, at 4.4 per cent.

06.Access to ChinaMeanwhile, China is right in the process of overtaking Japan to become the third largest economy in the world. As a business based in Hong Kong, you have easier access to the massive Mainland China market and to its manufacturing prowess – both bureaucratically and physically. In particular you have immediate access to China’s engine room province of Guangdong - including the famous factories of the Pearl River Delta region, and the boom city of Shenzhen, population 10 million, immediately bordering Hong Kong, less than an hour away. In 2009 Guangdong’s GDP was US$572 million, roughly the same as the country of Turkey or Indonesia.

Proximity to Mainland China, the world’s fastest growing economy, is one reason for Hong Kong’s strength today. In addition, a Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation Circle has been created to open up opportunities for Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta Region. Both sides will benefit from their resource advantages. Technological co-operation between the Mainland and other parts of the world will be promoted also.

07.Low taxesWith low taxes compared to most of the other countries in the world, Hong Kong allows businesses to breathe more freely. The tax incentives for businesses in Hong Kong are numerous and generous, giving companies a head start over others around the world.

08.Skilled workforceSourcing a skilled workforce is not a problem in Hong Kong, with a massive educated population on the doorstep. The region has a ready supply of high quality, talented workers across a vast array of expertise.

09.Backing for SMEsThe Government of the Hong Kong SAR is well known for its support of start-ups and small and medium-sized companies - its Support and Consultation Centre for SMEs (SUCCESS) being a prime example. In addition, SME Funding Schemes assisted small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong in securing financing for acquiring business installations and equipment, meeting working capital needs, expanding overseas markets, and enhancing overall competitiveness.

10.Enriching lifestyleThat tax on earnings in Hong Kong is very low is well known. And there’s a bounty of culture and leisure activities to enjoy with your extra income, should you wish to. Hong Kong is a majestic city, not only at home on the global stage of commerce, but culturally too. The wealth of Chinese history, culture and nature, not only within the city, but just a short train ride onto the Mainland, is mesmerising, and would take more than a lifetime to ever get bored with.

The arts scenes are of an international standard, not only with local talent, but with the city being a usual stop-off for music and arts that are touring the world.

11.Outdoor activitiesHong Kong has warm weather for most of the year, making it ideal for the outdoor life. Trekking opportunities abound amongst the plethora of forested peaks surrounding Hong Kong. Within an hour you can be amongst nature and have no one in site. Dozens of beautiful secluded beaches punctuate the myriad of inlets and natural harbours across the whole area. Incredibly, sometimes you find that you’re the only person on them, despite Hong Kong being less than an hour away.

On the water itself, hired traditional Chinese boats are commonly enjoyed by residents, for fishing trips or celebrations. And again, within an hour of the centre of Hong Kong, you can be at any one of the numerous venues for wake boarding and other water sports.

12.Family friendlyFamilies can have a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle in Hong Kong. Crime rates are amongst the lowest in the world, transport is fast, convenient and cheap, and the choice of top international-standard English-speaking schools is more than ample. Huge ex-pat communities from all over the world ensure a truly cosmopolitan experience.

It’s easy to see why both people and their business often visit Hong Kong then decide to stay. How can they resist this heady combination of business and pleasure, where everyone’s a winner?

13.Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks CorporationMaking Hong Kong an international hub for innovation and technology

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) was established in 2001 as one of the focal points for Hong Kong’s new push to become a global hub for innovation in science and technology. It’s already proving to be a dynamic success.

14.TimelineBuilding work has been relentless for nearly 10 years, which gives an indication of the size of the project. Phase 1 of the Park was completed in October 2004 and Phase 2 opened in September 2007. The Solar Energy Technology Support Centre was launched in March 2009; then the Biotech Centre was opened in April 2009, followed by the launch of the Secure Virtual IP Chamber in August of the same year. Planning of Phase 3 is well underway.

15.Hong Kong Science ParkThe Park has filled up quickly. As of May 2010, occupancy of Phases 1 and 2 stands at 89 per cent. Of the 308 technology companies in residence, 68 per cent are local and 32 per cent are from overseas. Their total estimated annual turnover is HK$81 billion.

The Park currently has a working population of around 8000, with about 60 per cent of them  involved in R & D activities. Companies attracted to the Park include internationally renowned Philips, TDK, DuPont Apollo, and Hologic.

HKSTPC exists to provide the necessary infrastructure and services to help make Hong Kong a world-class centre in the chosen specialist technology areas of electronics, information technology and telecommunications, precision engineering, biotechnology and green technology.

Within these areas, we have identified six technology niches in which Hong Kong has the capability to build a sustainable and global advantage in R & D. These are: radio frequency identification (RFID), integrated circuit design for mobile applications, solid state lighting, thin-film photovoltaic technology, building energy management, and environmental engineering.

Leading-edge facilities and services in the Park, combined with a pristine, hi-spec environment ensure companies have the best chance possible to commercialise their research results. Technology clusters are nurtured so that they stimulate one another and further consolidate a powerful global hub of innovation and technology

16.Specialised R & D facilitiesThe Park helps its clients succeed by providing leading-edge, specialised R & D facilities, support teams and lab engineering services that are run with outstanding efficiency by dedicated high-calibre staff. Advanced laboratories and technical centres available in the Park include:-

• IC Design Centre

• Secure Virtual IP Chamber

• Probe and Test Centre

• Failure Analysis Laboratory

• Reliability Laboratory

• Wireless Communications Test Laboratory

• Materials Analysis Laboratory

• Biotech Support Laboratory

• Solar Energy Technology Support Centre

• Solid State Lighting Laboratory

17.Incubation programmesTechnology start-ups joining our Incubation Programmes can have up to four-years’ assistance and support during their vulnerable inception stage. During this time, a company can enjoy rental subsidies, business consultancy and a full-range of supporting services such as legal consulting, marketing and promotion, business and talent matching.

Of the 242 Incubation Programme graduates since 1992, 187 are still in business and 3 are IPOs. 117 incubatees are currently in either the three-year Incu-Tech Programme for technology, the four-year Incu-Bio Programme for biotechnology or the two-year Incu-Design Programme.

Since April 2003, these incubatees had raised a total of HK$665 million in angel and venture capital. They had obtained 369 intellectual properties and an impressive 164 technical and design awards.

18.Industry events and networking opportunitiesOf its industry events, InnoAsia is one of the most well-known. This annual international event has established a platform for academia, scientists, entrepreneurs and the business community. Here they can gather insight and knowledge from world experts on deploying innovative technologies that create new markets and opportunities.

The Science Park Applied Research Commercialisation (SPARC) Forum is another important regular industry event held at the Park. It is a business-matching forum organised to facilitate interaction between potential investors and innovators from Hong Kong, the Pearl River Delta and overseas, which will eventually help expedite the commercialisation of viable technologies.

An annual industry event, the Hong Kong Awards for Industries was organised to recognise the outstanding achievements of Hong Kong enterprises - both manufacturing and service industries - in their move towards higher technology and value-added activities. The event is led by an Organising Committee chaired by Trade and Industry Department, with HKSTPC being one of the committee members.

19.Community eventsThe community is clearly a passion for HKSTPC, and the number of related events demonstrates its commitment. Hong Kong Technology & Renewable Energy Events (HKTREE) is an event for students, engineers and environmentalists in Hong Kong to showcase their innovative use of renewable energy such as wind and solar power. With participation from schools and the public, the event nurtures awareness of building a sustainable future through the use of renewable energy.

The Hong Kong Science Park Photo Contest was launched in 2009 to provide a fun platform for the public, especially the younger generations, to interact with the Park and to experience the science, green environment and innovation from a new angle. By calling for participation from the public, the event certainly succeeded in passing on the message “Technology is fun” to the community.

Golden Egg Sundays are getting quite a name locally. They are a very popular series of themed Sunday events to promote science and technology among the younger generations through a series of educational and fun activities, such as games, workshops and performances.  Parents say they learn and enjoy it too!

20.The clustering effectThe expression ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ is apt for the Science Park’s strategy of clustering its technologies. Some technology sectors, even though they differ, can create a powerful synergy when they operate in the same environment.

Companies share expertise and cross-fertilise with ideas. By grouping companies together they are given a platform to communicate, work and identify market opportunities with each other. Sometimes there is also competition between enterprises, but this also goads them on to do even better.

21.Partners for business successEstablishing a business in the Science Park means access to more than just their world-class infrastructure, they gain access to over 500 man-years’ of technical experience that the Park has built up.

What’s more, HKSTPC fosters relationships with the academia and the industry, meaning a constant flow of the best brains into the Park. They also help companies in the Park forge alliances with their large network of partners from both Mainland China and internationally.

Companies in the Science Park also benefit from extensive venture capital business-matching services. Nurturing and supporting their partner companies is at the heart of what they do – whether fledgling, SME or multi-national companies.

22.Complete business supportBusiness services available within Hong Kong Science Park are well-established and professional. They offer technical and management training, legal services and marketing support. Their strong human resources network helps companies recruit the best staff from universities locally and abroad. And they provide an experienced intellectual property rights protection service too.

The Science Park is a one-stop shop for complete product development, from design start to product release, bringing big cost savings too. Joining the Park is like gaining a business partner who’s as determined as the business itself to commercialise the research results.

23.World-class meeting facilitiesExceptional conference and meeting amenities are an important aspect of Hong Kong Science Park. The spectacular, multi-purpose, Charles K. Kao Auditorium, along with the superb conference and exhibition halls, business centre, amphitheatre and food court make it the ideal venue for international conferences, seminars or exhibitions.

Add to this the stunning panoramic sea view, complimented by picturesque landscaped green spaces throughout the Park, it makes a popular venue for visitors.

The extensive meeting spaces have in-built flexibility so they can cater for gatherings of any size or type, be they symposiums, conferences, business meetings, training courses, seminars, workshops or breakout sessions. Their modular and exceptionally versatile layout can create the ideal floor size for events of any scale.

All rooms feature high-tech facilities, including WiFi connectivity, high-speed internet and fibre-optic cabling. They contain extensive video conferencing options with built-in presentation screens and projectors, as well as lighting, audio visual and multi-media equipment. Business suites and furnished workstations are also available for use as temporary or short-term offices.

The Science Park’s sophisticated infrastructure, easy accessibility, friendly environment, professional expertise - and Hong Kong’s vibrant lifestyle - all make it one of Asia's premier destinations for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. With their one-stop professional and customised venue service, Hong Kong Science Park certainly ensures every event is a resounding success.

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