China's WTO Entry
HK on the Cusp of Exciting New Era: Official

Hong Kong is on the cusp of another exciting new era in its success story, since the region can play an important role as sophisticated knowledge-based economy and benefit from the opening up of the Chinese mainland economy, a Hong Kong official said Wednesday.

Financial Secretary, Antony Leung, said at the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce that though Hong Kong is faced with many challenges in the new information age, the region, among other advantages, has built its core strengths such as its rule of law, a level playing field for doing business, a clean administration and the free flow of information.

Leung voiced optimism about the vast opportunities brought about by the opening up of the mainland market, noting that Hong Kong should be looking at what more it "can do to capitalize on the growing Chinese market. "

Hong Kong entrepreneurs are already the largest investors in every mainland province. According to a recent report, at the end of 1999, there were over 184,000 Hong Kong-funded projects throughout the country, with an estimated value of realized direct investment of US$162 billion in June last year.

Leung predicted that Hong Kong entrepreneurs' involvement in the mainland should give them a head start when China finally becomes a member of the World Trade Organization.

He said that Hong Kong investors, particularly in manufacturing, have been a driving force in China's externally-oriented economy, and this role should be maintained and even strengthened in the post-WTO era.

The mainland's trade is expected to double in the five years after it joins the WTO, which opens the opportunity for Hong Kong companies and their partners to sell their products on the huge mainland domestic market, Leung said.

The increased trade is expected to result in more cargo passing through Hong Kong in both directions and by sea, air and land, opening up more opportunities and enhancing Hong Kong's role as a logistics and transportation hub for the region, he said.

Hong Kong's status as an international financial center and fund-raising hub for the region should also be strengthened, since mainland-based companies will want to use the Hong Kong market even more to raise capital for business expansion or modernization plans.

Last year alone, mainland-based companies raised some US$44 billion on the Hong Kong securities market, which is almost two-and-a-half times the amount of capital raised in the mainland's own securities markets, according to Leung.

(China Daily June 6, 2001)


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