Hong Kong ushers in 2023 with encouraging economic outlook
Updated 16:38, 29-Jan-2023
Rex Chang
Hong Kong ushers in 2023 with encouraging economic outlook

Hong Kong ushers in 2023 with encouraging economic outlook.mp3


Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for influential leaders to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Rex Chang is the Director of Office of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in Beijing (Beijing Office). The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN. 

2023 has made a good start with fantastic news and encouraging developments after three years of COVID-19 pandemic. With support of the central government, quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Chinese mainland has resumed since January 8. This is welcomed by the people and business sectors of both sides. Application for exit-entry documents for Chinese mainland residents traveling to Hong Kong has resumed. The normalization of cross-boundary flows of people and goods is a milestone for Hong Kong to continue its "super-connector" role to bridge the Chinese mainland and global market.

Hong Kong has also relaxed its anti-pandemic measures to bring the metropolis back on track. Though the mask-on requirement in public places remains intact, other restrictions such as mandatory quarantine for inbound travelers, isolation order for close contacts of COVID-19 patients, limits on the number of people in group gatherings and dining, and the Vaccine Pass are lifted. For students, whole-day face-to-face classes have resumed. The swift measures enable Hong Kong to excel as a vibrant metropolis in the post COVID-19 era.

Yet, 2023 will be another challenging year in terms of economic development, against complicated geopolitics and bleak global economic outlook, coupled with the threat of energy supply shortages, inflation, rising interest rates and weak consumption demand. Nonetheless, we are still cautiously optimistic about Hong Kong's economic performance in 2023. The steady economic progress of the Chinese mainland will offer the greatest support to Hong Kong's economic development. The Central Economic Work Conference 2022 is steering the economic policy of dual circulation by expanding domestic consumption and encouraging investment in 2023.  

The 14th Five-Year Plan and national strategies including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) development and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have injected strong momentum to Hong Kong's prosperity. The 14th Five-Year Plan supports the development of the "eight centers" in Hong Kong, namely international financial center, international innovation and technology center, east-meets-west center for international cultural exchange, international trade center, international shipping center, international aviation hub, center for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific, and regional intellectual property trading center. The GBA development has enhanced the interconnectivity and integrated development among the Greater Bay Area cities. Meanwhile, the BRI brings tremendous opportunities to our services industry, creating wider networks by fostering people-to-people bonds.  

Travellers from the Chinese mainland queue up at a border checkpoint in Lok Ma Chau, a new territory of the HKSAR, south China, January 8, 2023. /CFP
Travellers from the Chinese mainland queue up at a border checkpoint in Lok Ma Chau, a new territory of the HKSAR, south China, January 8, 2023. /CFP

Travellers from the Chinese mainland queue up at a border checkpoint in Lok Ma Chau, a new territory of the HKSAR, south China, January 8, 2023. /CFP

Promoting the development of innovation and technology (I&T) and attracting companies and talents will be one of the work objectives of the HKSAR government in the coming years. To achieve the vision of the 14th Five-Year Plan in supporting Hong Kong to develop into an international I&T center, Hong Kong is enhancing our I&T ecosystem via developing infrastructure, promoting research, nurturing talent, supporting the industry. We are moving forward with the construction of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen I&T Park, leading to the Shenzhen-Hong Kong I&T Cooperation Zone together with the Shenzhen I&T Zone. This "one zone, two parks" initiative will attract Chinese mainland and overseas I&T companies to Hong Kong and power the rise of GBA as one of the world's I&T hubs.  

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong I&T Development Blueprint, as well as the newly-established Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises (OASES) will play crucial roles. The former is a blueprint to lay out the major strategies for our future I&T development in the coming five to 10 years from the perspective of top-level planning. The latter is part of our efforts to include the setting up of the Talents Service Unit, to attract high-quality enterprises, investments and talents to Hong Kong. OASES is central to our search for target companies, particularly those from industries of strategic importance to Hong Kong, including life and health technology, artificial intelligence and data science, fintech, advanced manufacturing and new energy technology, and is supported by the Dedicated Teams for Attracting Businesses and Talents set up in the Chinese mainland including the Beijing Office and overseas offices of the HKSAR government. Chinese mainland enterprises are welcome to contact our Dedicated Teams in Beijing or in our other Chinese mainland offices that can help enterprises build a flourishing future in Hong Kong.

The HKSAR government has also developed the financial infrastructure to build a wider, deeper and more comprehensive market in Hong Kong. Apart from deepening the mutual access regime with the Chinese mainland and promoting the internationalization of the Chinese yuan, we have collaborated with global stakeholders for diversifying our fundraising platforms, developing green and sustainable finance, enhancing our role as an asset and wealth management center, as well as a corporate treasury and risk management center, and promoting fintech. The policies deliver benefits to the financial services sector and spur development of other major sectors, in particular trade, aviation and I&T in Hong Kong.  

Hong Kong's merchandise exports and tourism receipts are expected to rebound significantly in the first quarter of 2023, following the re-opening of the Hong Kong-Chinese mainland borders and resumption of major international events in Hong Kong that will lure in business travelers, as well as tourists. The Asian Financial Forum just concluded on January 12 with a good turnout of companies and investors, including private equity firms, high-net-worth individuals, investment project owners and senior professionals from intermediaries and professional services providers. Other renowned events are returning as well. To name a few, the Hong Kong Marathon, one of the most popular sports events attracting overseas elite athletes; Clockenflap, Hong Kong's biggest international outdoor music and arts festival featuring local and international talents; the Hong Kong Flower Show 2023, supported by worldwide professional organizations to showcase a wide variety of flowers and plants for our visitors; Art Central, an international platform for emerging talents and distinguished artists from around the world; and Art Basel Hong Kong that has attracted a large attendance of art-lovers both local and overseas. All these will help boost our tourism industry and our economy.

Hong Kong remains the only place in the world where its global advantage and the China advantage amalgamate in a single city. The unique convergence makes Hong Kong the irreplaceable "super-connector" between the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world. As Asia's World City, Hong Kong is an ideal location for Chinese mainland and overseas companies as a base to set up or expand their business in Hong Kong, the GBA and Asia.

Spring is the season for fresh starts. As the pandemic continues to wane, we are cautiously optimistic about Hong Kong's economic outlook in 2023. And I cordially invite companies and professionals from the mainland to visit Hong Kong and experience first-hand the vibrancy of Asia's World City.

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