Regional Development

Hainan strengthening connections with HK

Updated: Feb 16, 2023 By CHEN BOWEN in Haikou Print
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Hainan is stepping up its efforts to find investors.

A provincial business delegation led by Vice-Governor Ni Qiang to Hong Kong and Germany in December became the first in the country to be led by such a high provincial official in search of foreign investment since the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Tuesday, a delegation led by Shen Xiaoming, secretary of the Hainan Committee of the Communist Party of China, arrived in Hong Kong for activities aimed at attracting business investment and talent to the Hainan free trade port.

A promotional conference themed "New era, new opening-up, new business opportunity" was held in Hong Kong on Wednesday morning.

"Cooperation between Hainan and Hong Kong is growing rapidly," Huang Cui, deputy director of the Hainan Bureau of International Economic Development, said at the conference. "We have built Hainan-Hong Kong cooperation pilot zones in Haikou and Sanya, held many symposiums and produced materials to help people better understand the FTP policies."

Hainan's Department of Commerce issued a notice on Monday for public comments on 10 measures for opening up the port's professional services market to Hong Kong. It mentions plans to encourage Hong Kong banks to set up branches or representative offices in Hainan, insurance companies to set up sole proprietorships or branches in the province and qualified financial institutions to set up securities, futures and public funds management companies in the FTP.

The notice also aims to expand the scope of professional qualification examinations for Hong Kong personnel who want to work in Hainan.

Since April 2018, more than 2,000 Hong Kong-funded enterprises have been established in Hainan, accounting for 42.4 percent of the newly established foreign-funded enterprises in the province. The use of Hong Kong capital reached $9.77 billion, taking up 76 percent of the total foreign capital in the FTP.

In October, Hainan issued 5 billion offshore yuan ($73 million) in local government bonds in Hong Kong. It was the first issuance of blue bonds and sustainability bonds by a Chinese local government in the international capital market.

"HSBC was involved and witnessed the issuance, which fully demonstrates the potential momentum of the cooperation between Hong Kong and Hainan," Neo Wang, head of Corporates, Commercial Banking, HSBC, said at the promotion conference.

"After the implementation of the Hainan Free Trade Port Law in 2021, people from all walks of life in Hong Kong have been paying more attention to Hainan, especially those who are engaged in finance, commerce, innovative technology, large conferences and exhibitions and retail industries. Promoting multi-industrial cooperation between Hong Kong and Hainan will bring more development opportunities for both sides," he added.

To provide convenience for people from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as overseas Chinese who invest and start businesses in Hainan, six service workstations were established by the Hainan Provincial Committee in the province's key industrial parks. In June, the Hainan Bureau of International Economic Development also set up an office in Hong Kong to promote economic and trade cooperation.

"Hainan has strengthened its efforts in attracting talent, including service talent in cultural creativity, trade, finance, consulting, sports and other fields," said Zhu Dingjian, chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group — currently the largest Hong Kong-invested enterprise in Hainan, with an actual investment of 40 billion yuan — said at the conference. "It can be said that a 100,000-strong mighty division of talent has been drawn to the island."

Hainan has also been a popular destination for Hong Kong tourists. In 2019, the province received 129,400 Hong Kong tourists in total, with more than 30 direct flights a week, making it the fourth-largest inbound tourist market in the province.

When international air traffic resumed in November, the first international and regional passenger route from Hainan was to Hong Kong. As of Feb 11, 88 flights between Haikou and Hong Kong had been completed, transporting 10,266 passengers.

"Hong Kong is an important source of tourism for Hainan, and it's an international platform for promoting Hainan tourism," said Albert Yip, director-general of the Sanya Tourism Promotion Board. "Hainan has visa-free access to tourists from 59 countries. With this policy, it can work together with Hong Kong to launch multi-destination travel products to draw more global tourists. We can create a one-hour flight circle to give more entertainment options to our international tourists."

Yip noticed that over the past decades, Hong Kong has successfully held a number of world-class events, and the board has been in touch with relevant enterprises and associations to kick-start projects in the city.

This year, the board will work closely with Hong Kong to offer more tourist attractions and prepare a lineup of events, such as music festivals, concerts and high-end but affordable arts exhibitions, shows and conventions.

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