The Hong Kong government's foreign direct investment agency InvestHK has opened a representative office in Africa and now has a presence in 33 markets. It is actively building mutually beneficial relationships with leading African and South African enterprises, such as major banks, metropolitan development organisations and the JSE.
“Africa is an important part of our strategy; therefore, we are building relationships and representation in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana,” says InvestHK investment promotion director-general Stephen Phillips.
Further, InvestHK offers a comprehensive support programme for startups through startmeup.hk, which covers planning, set-up, launch and aftercare, as well as expansion support.
Hong Kong offers compelling opportunities to South African companies expanding or launching their businesses in Asia, with comprehensive tax benefits, business incentives and market growth potential, he says.
“Hong Kong is home to 9 000 foreign companies that take advantage of its sophisticated infrastructure, low and simple tax regime, supportive government, robust legal and regulatory framework and intellectual property protection to grow and reach markets across Asia,” Phillips points out.
Another benefit of setting up business in Hong Kong is its free trade policy, with free port status and easy customs procedures, he adds.
“Owing 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.”
Hong Kong's status as an international financial and business centre served as the foundation of a surge in digital and information technology (IT) business development. Hong Kong currently has a thriving innovation and technology ecosystem with strong government support that has seen more than HK$150-billion invested since 2017, Phillips says.
In Hong Kong, multimillion-dollar opportunities exist in IT, healthcare and life sciences, financial technology (fintech), financial services, transport, infrastructure and advanced manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, consumer products and in the creative industries, he notes.
Additionally, startup businesses are reported to be thriving in Hong Kong, with nearly 4 000 startups from around the globe now based there, or 52% up on 2018. These startups 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, he says.
“Hong Kong is an international innovation and technology hub with world-class research and development facilities at its Science Park and Cyberport, as well as comprehensive incubation programmes and venture fund support.
“Among these is the new Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation programme launched last year, which has more than 400 000 m2 of office and laboratory space, and a dedicated venture fund. Cyberport, launched in 2003, is now the fintech hub of Hong Kong, with more than 1 900 startups and companies.”
With a cosmopolitan population of 7.5-million residents of various nationalities in a 1 104 km2 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.
Further, more than 100 airlines offer easy travel to more than 220 locations from Hong Kong, with all of Asia’s key markets less than four hours away.
Hong Kong is also 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, Phillips says.
Hong Kong has forged eight Hong Kong Free Trade Agreements to date with mainland China, New Zealand, the member States of the European Free Trade Association, Chile, Macao, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Georgia and Australia. Negotiations with other trading partners are also under way, he points out.