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US firms keen to tap China boom region

Updated: Jul 12, 2022 By LIU YINMENG in Los Angeles CHINA DAILY Print
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California, in particular, aims to build on ties with cities in Greater Bay Area

Photo taken on Nov 24, 2021 shows a view of Hong Kong. [Photo/Xinhua]

Business executives in California are taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, or GBA, to expand their companies.

"I still think there's a huge interconnectedness between the US and China and opportunities," said Gordon Hinkle, vice-president of California Center, a business platform that connects companies to Chinese partners.

The Greater Bay Area encompasses nine cities in Guangdong province and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao in southern China. It is being developed into an integrated world-class business hub by the Chinese government under a long-term planning project.

The region is home to the largest concentration of China's Fortune 500 companies and houses many of China's technology big names, such as Tencent, Huawei and DJI. It's one of the most dynamic regions in China, contributing to about 12 percent of the total national economic output.

Part of the government's plan is to link and leverage the assets of the core cities along the Pearl River Delta, and in the process enable an easier flow of talent, goods and capital among the region's municipalities.

The GBA, of which Hong Kong is a part, is emerging as a global economic powerhouse with the potential "to become much greater than the sum of its parts", a spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council told China Daily in an emailed statement.

"At the HKTDC, we have seen a huge interest in the Greater Bay Area from international businesses. Undoubtedly, this will be another area of focus for international business opportunity in the post-pandemic world," she said.

The pandemic has given rise to opportunities for US businesses across many sectors, including healthcare, sustainability-related innovations and services, said the HKTDC, a statutory body created in 1966 to explore potential markets for Hong Kong companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.

In addition, China's commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 creates a "vast demand" for sustainability expertise in the country's transition to a greener economy, the council added.

Noting that California has a strong clean energy and healthcare technology market, the HKTDC said businesses can enhance their partnership with China via the GBA and Hong Kong.

"Green development will create opportunities not only in clean energy, green construction materials, electrical vehicles, but also green finance-a sector that Hong Kong is actively developing," it said.

Hinkle said California Center's sister company, McWong International, with offices in the US and China that design and manufacture lighting-control equipment, has won numerous awards for creating breakthrough technologies saving energy.

"We realize there will always be economic and political issues out of our control, but as a global company, we learn to adapt and seize on opportunities to collaborate and innovate with our Chinese partners," he said.

Hinkle said he plans to grasp the opportunities created by the GBA initiative. He already works closely with business partners in several regions and provinces of China, "especially now with the new bridge that goes from Hong Kong to Macao, it is just an easier connectivity", he added.

He said he hopes to see more interactions between US companies and those in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, Hinkle said.

In a recent webinar organized by the Commonwealth Club of California, Sean Randolph, senior director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, said the Pearl River Delta region was the first area in China that opened up trade with the West. It has since become the foremost ground in China for pursuing economic reform, he said.

Randolph said the San Francisco Bay Area has enjoyed historical ties with the GBA. Most of the Chinese immigration into the region came from Guangdong province, he said.

Creating opportunities

Many fields that are the No 1 concern for the Bay Area are also prioritized in the Greater Bay Area, which creates opportunities for collaboration, he said. Randolph named climate change, clean energy, healthcare, electric and autonomous vehicles, biomedicine and pharmaceuticals, as well as financial technology, as just some of the promising areas.

Despite constraints posed by strained US-China relations, there's no indication that the fundamental environment for conducting business in Hong Kong has changed, he said.

"Hong Kong continues to present a unique platform for engaging with the Greater Bay Area. I think we just need to acknowledge that that is taking place within a larger environment," Randolph said.

"Whatever happens with the overall plan, there will be a long-term legacy of China's investment in science, its investment in infrastructure in the region, which I think will continue to enable the region to continue to grow and across those jurisdictions, present potentially strong opportunities for collaboration with us here in the San Francisco Bay Area", along with other parts of California and across the US, Randolph said.

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