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Advance with confidence and seize opportunities

Paul Chan

 , Updated 22:43, 06-Mar-2024
Advance with confidence and seize opportunities

Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Paul Chan is the Financial Secretary of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Last Wednesday, I announced the Budget for the new financial year. Over the past few days, my team and I have been going all out to explain to members of the public and the media the relevant content and measures in the Budget, as well as the underlying rationale. We have also been addressing in detail issues of concern raised by various parties. Many people agree that the most important thing at the moment is to bolster confidence in the community. Given the substantial expenditure incurred during the epidemic and the fiscal deficit in the past few years, many residents understand the need for the government to implement a fiscal consolidation program.

After registering a 3.2 percent growth last year, Hong Kong's economy is forecast to grow by 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent this year. Elevated interest rates and continued geopolitical tensions have kept the asset market weak throughout the past year. Changes in the spending pattern of residents and tourists have, to a certain extent, put pressure on the retail and catering industries. Bolstering short-term confidence and strengthening guidance of market expectations; enhancing strategic planning for long-term economic development; and ensuring the robustness and sustainability of public finances, are the three main lines of thought for the Budget.

The complete removal of the "cooling measures" for the residential property market is primarily the result of careful consideration of the current overall market situation and the adequate future supply of residential flats. We consider that the relevant measures are no longer necessary. As for the series of measures to enhance the listing regime and improve the trading mechanism for the equities market, they are aimed at further boosting market efficiency, liquidity and competitiveness.

In response to changing spending patterns of residents and tourists, we will implement a series of measures aimed at creating more unique tourist attractions. That would help visitors and residents better plan their trips. By providing richer and more diverse travel experiences, we encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more, thus further stimulating the business atmosphere during both the day and night.

Various mega events and large-scale forums held in Hong Kong, whether accompanied by monthly drone and pyrotechnic shows, or themed immersive tours and other activities with local characteristics, are set to create more wonderful and exciting experience for local residents and visitors from around the world.

In fact, over the past few days, different groups have expressed interest in sponsoring drone shows or pyrotechnic performances as part of their promotional campaigns. Some catering and retail businesses are also actively preparing for new rounds of promotional activities, aiming to take advantage of these events to boost sales and marketing. We are glad to see more collaborative promotional activities that will make Hong Kong's market more vibrant.

"Charming Hong Kong" drone light show event was held at Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, south China, January 28, 2024. /CFP

"Charming Hong Kong" drone light show event was held at Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, south China, January 28, 2024. /CFP

This year, we will be welcoming a yet wider array of international mega-events and thematic forums, which can quickly generate business and consumer tourism demand for Hong Kong in a short period of time. Over the past week, for example, two major events were held in the city. The inaugural “Hong Kong Green Week”, featuring a series of forums and activities which integrated green technology and green finance, had attracted over 5 000 participants from dozens of regions. The Hong Kong GreenTech Summit, in particular, saw the participation of a good number of green technology companies engaged in areas such as renewable energy, hydrogen transportation, carbon capture, and green agriculture.

Meanwhile, the Climate Business Forum: Asia Pacific, jointly organized by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the International Finance Corporation under the World Bank Group, brought together top decision-makers from the global business and financial sectors to discuss how unlock the potential of climate finance in the Asia-Pacific region. On the other hand, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) hosted the meetings of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) Asia-Pacific Regional Committee and the EU-Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Regulation, as well as the SFC Regional Securities Regulatory Leadership Symposium. These events had gathered hundreds of government officials, senior regulators, and financial leaders from Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, promoting dialogues and connections between regulatory bodies and the industry.

A host of international mega events and forums will be coming to Hong Kong this year, including the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Art Basel, the Hong Kong Sevens, the Hong Kong Pop Culture Festival, the Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit organized by the HKMA, as well as a Roundtable for International Sovereign Wealth Funds and a Summit on Start-up Investment and Development in Hong Kong to be organized by the Hong Kong Investment Corporation Limited. These events coming in succession will bring in more business and leisure visitors in the short term while stimulating local consumer demand.

While bolstering confidence and guiding market expectations more closely, we have also put much emphasis on long-term planning for development. A key focus is to enhance Hong Kong's positioning for the development of the "Eight Centers" under the National 14th Five-Year Plan. Among them, financial services and innovation and technology (I&T) are the two main engines driving Hong Kong towards high-quality development. For I&T, building upon the investments we have made over the years, the Budget this year seeks to accelerate the development of such areas as artificial intelligence, life and health technology, and new industrialization. On financial services, we will work to enhance mutual market access with the mainland, and strengthen the development of our asset and wealth management, securities and bond markets. We are determined to further reinforce and enhance the competitiveness and advantages of various financial services segments in Hong Kong.

For our role as an international trade center, the Budget has expressly proposed to establish Hong Kong as a multinational supply chain management center. In line with the trend of the Chinese mainland manufacturing enterprises extending their production supply chains abroad, Hong Kong, as the leading financial and commercial center in the region with comprehensive financial, logistics management and professional support services, is well resourced and experienced to support the overseas businesses of such enterprises, and help them overcome various challenges in the process. We will work to establish a trade single window to consolidate the resources of various sectors and take proactive measures to enable these enterprises to make full use of Hong Kong's status as an offshore trade and multinational supply chain management center for opening up new overseas markets more effectively.

The Budget has taken into account the short-term needs of Hong Kong, while charting the direction for our long-term development. The key is to promote high-quality development of the overall economy, and make better use of technology to provide greater and more sustainable impetus for future economic growth.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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