Hong Kong rolls out red carpet to African business

Hong Kong, Asia’s leading business destination and the gateway to Mainland China and Asia, is stepping up its efforts to attract African business, with the opening of an InvestHK representative office in Africa.

InvestHK, the department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government responsible for Foreign Direct Investment, has a presence in 33 markets and is now actively building mutually beneficial relationships with leading African and South African enterprises such as major banks, metro development organisations, and the JSE.

Speaking at a briefing at the JSE in Johannesburg, InvestHK Director-General of Investment Promotion Stephen Phillips noted: “Africa is an important part of our strategy, therefore we are building relationships and representation in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana.”

Phillips said Hong Kong offered compelling opportunities to South African companies expanding or launching their businesses in Asia, with comprehensive tax benefits, business incentives and market growth potential.

“Hong Kong is now home to 9,000 foreign companies, who take advantage of its sophisticated infrastructure, low and simple tax regime, supportive government, robust legal and regulatory framework and IP protection to grow and reach markets across Asia,” Phillips said.

Connecting East and West

Due to its location and cultural links, Hong Kong is uniquely positioned as the gateway connecting the East and West. As “one country, with two systems”, Hong Kong is part of Mainland China but has its own legal and tax systems and separate customs, immigration, police and anti-corruption jurisdictions.

InvestHK notes that Hong Kong has forged eight Hong Kong Free Trade Agreements to date: with the Mainland of China, New Zealand, the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Chile, Macao, the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), Georgia and Australia, with negotiations underway with other trading partners. Over 100 airlines offer easy travel to over 220 locations from Hong Kong, with all of Asia’s key markets less than four hours away. Another benefit of setting up business in Hong Kong is its free trade policy, with free port status and easy customs procedures.

Hong Kong is described as one of the safest cities in the world, and was named as the Freest Economy by the Heritage Foundation for 25 consecutive years.

With a cosmopolitan population of 7.5 million residents of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre territory, Hong Kong is densely populated and highly developed, and has been positioned as a highly accessible ’20-minute city’, where consumers can reach most retail destinations within 20 minutes from the Central Business District (CBD). Its status as an international financial and business centre served as the foundation of a surge in digital and IT business development. Hong Kong now has a thriving innovation and technology (I&T) ecosystem with strong government support that has seen more than HK$150 billion invested since 2017.

Phillips said multi-million dollar opportunities existed in the following key sectors:

  • IT – Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Financial Technology
  • Financial Services
  • Transport, Infrastructure and Advanced Manufacturing
  • Tourism & Hospitality
  • Consumer Products
  • Creative Industries

Hong Kong as a tech startup destination

Hong Kong is an international innovation and technology hub with world-class R&D facilities at its Science Park and Cyberport, as well as comprehensive incubation programmes and venture fund support. Among these is the new HKSTP programme launched last year, which has over 400,000moffice and lab space, and a dedicated HKSTP Venture Fund. Cyberport, launched in 2003, is now the Fintech hub of Hong Kong, with over 1,900 start-ups and companies.

Start-up businesses are reported to be thriving in Hong Kong, with nearly 4,000 start-ups from around the globe now based there – 52% up on 2018. These start-ups operate in myriad sectors, however most operate in the digital technology sector, and many take advantage of Hong Kong’s specialised incubators and business accelerators, as well as comprehensive government funding schemes.

InvestHK offers a comprehensive support programme for startups through startmeup.hk, which covers planning, set-up, launch and aftercare and expansion support.

For more information about Hong Kong and its business investment benefits, please contact Bernice Robbertse at email: brobbertse@investhk.com.hk or Mobile: 0732516706.