HK business community eyes opportunities in overseas economic, trade cooperation zones

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HONG KONG, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- How is the local business environment in Indonesia? What is the approximate rent of a factory in Vietnam? And what tax incentives are there for foreign businesses in Laos?

Those were among the questions raised by representatives from the Hong Kong business community during a meeting here Wednesday themed on opportunities in the overseas economic and trade cooperation zones under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Co-organized by the Commercial Office of the Economic Affairs Department of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the HKSAR government, the meeting was attended by over 300 businessmen online and offline, many of whom showed great interest in participating in the cooperation zones.

Simon Wong, vice president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, said that members of the association are keen to take part in the cooperation zones, as the zones open up opportunities both in physical investments such as local factories as well as in service sector cooperation such as tourism and culture.

"Belt and Road is a big opportunity for us. I believe once we establish smooth communication channels with the overseas partners, our cooperation model will not be constrained to one-way investment but will expand to more innovative models," he said.

Li Hongwei, deputy director-general of the Department of Outward Investment and Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), said via video link that the overseas economic and trade cooperation zones is an institutional innovation of outbound investment, serving as gateways for enterprises looking for new business opportunities along the Belt and Road.

By September this year, the cooperation zones in countries along the Belt of Road have altogether added more than 400,000 local jobs, boosting local economic growth, he said.

Bernard Chan, under secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR government, said that the BRI is an important driving force for economic growth in the HKSAR. For many companies, expanding overseas via the cooperation zones will help them mitigate risks, he said.

The trend of Hong Kong firms going overseas, especially to ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, is supported by favorable government policies.

The full implementation of a free trade agreement between the HKSAR and ASEAN has boosted the economic ties between the two sides, while a memorandum of cooperation signed by the MOC and the HKSAR last year on promoting high-quality development of overseas economic and trade cooperation zones has supported firms from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong to join hands in their overseas expansion.

Stressing that Hong Kong enjoys unique advantages as an international financial, trade and shipping hub, Li Hongwei said that the MOC will implement the terms under the memorandum and continue to support Hong Kong in participating in the development of overseas economic and trade cooperation zones. Enditem

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