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Seizing the Opportunities Brought About by “One Belt and One Road” and Seeking New Directions for Hong Kong’s Economy (2)

By Martin Liao (Legislative Council Member, Commercial (Second) Functional Constituency)

The traditional Key Industries in Hong Kong, including the Finance Services, Trading and Marine Services Industry, as I have mentioned in my previous article in this series, surely can benefit a lot from the economic activities arising from the vision of “One Belt and One Road”. For the emerging economic sectors, they can find new directions for development from it as well.

Seize the opportunity to realize the potential of e-commerce

E-commerce is one of the emerging economic sectors that has great potential. It is reported that the scale of the global e-commerce market is expected to reach US$2.3 trillion in 2018, of which the Asia-Pacific region would account for 38% of the market share. And the “One Belt and One Road” is bound to generate more multilateral trade to further “expand the economic pie”. Hong Kong should accelerate the marriage of e-commerce and our traditional advantageous industries to capture these opportunities. The HKSAR Government has already named financial technologies as a new direction for the future development of Hong Kong’s financial industry, and is committed to further enhancing the operational efficiency of the industry and pioneering new development models for new technologies such as payment and settlement systems, big data analysis, cloud computing, information and risk management, and network security. Should the Steering Group on Financial Technologies succeed in its promotion of Hong Kong as a Fintech (financial technologies) hub, a new era of e-commerce would surely come with it. By then, Hong Kong with its advantages in freedom of information technology, convergence of talents, well-established legal system and intellectual property rights (IPR) protections, is absolutely well-positioned to be a Fintech hub for the countries and places along “One Belt and One Road”.

Another emerging economic sector is innovative technologies, which is quite a hot topic in Hong Kong these days. Although the innovative technologies industry in Hong Kong , for various reasons, has failed to play a major role over the years, it has high potential for development as many world-class researchers has been attracted to come and do their researches here. This year, a research team from the City University of Hong Kong, which has developed a specific biological technology for detecting toxins, was awarded the Grand Prix at the Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions. The “One Belt and One Road” is sure to provide a broad platform for Hong Kong’s innovative technology talents to maximize their potential. In this regard, the government too should take advantage of the chance and capitalize on Hong Kong’s well-established legal system and IPR protections to promote intellectual property (IP) trading and smooth its way to become an international IP trading hub.

Well-positioned to be an IP trading hub

“One Belt and One Road” not only can bring new development opportunities to Hong Kong’s creative industries, it can also bring new aspirations to our cultural and creative industries through the cultural exchanges with the various countries and regions far and near lying on the relevant economic corridors. As a matter of fact, creative industries have served as an economic engine for many countries and enhanced their economic strength. By comparison, creative industries in Hong Kong have lagged behind with the percentage share of value added in GDP stood at about 5% at 2013. But according to past records, Hong Kong’s entertainment industry was once dominant in the Southeast Asia market, and the influence of its kung fu movies reached as far as Europe and America, an indication that Hong Kong’s unique culture has full export potential. The HKSAR Government should help to create a favorable environment for Hong Kong’s creative industries to take off again, like assisting the industries to understand the cultures and traditions of the “One Belt and One Road” regions and facilitating various exchanges activities, thereby opening up the market and enhancing Hong Kong’s soft power at the same time.

The fore-mentioned are just a few examples of the numerous opportunities arising from the “One Belt and One Road” vision that I manage to cite in the limited length of this article. Actually it requires the joint efforts of the Government, business community and public to search out all the valuable new economic directions that “One Belt One Road” could render us. The Chief Executive has said that the leading industries of Hong Kong would not be the only ones that can “go global”. I believe our society is expecting the HKSAR Government, after the “13th Five-Year Plan” finalized officially, to keep the public informed of the specifics of the opportunities “One Belt and One Road” can bring to the various sectors in Hong Kong and what support schemes will be provided by the government.

The Government is expected to take the lead

As a matter of fact, if we are to seize all the opportunities arise from the “One Belt and One Road” vision, efforts on the part of the business sector alone is not adequate. Also this is not an efficient way for allocation of resources for society as a whole. In conclusion, the Government needs to play its part in creating a favourable environment in the background, actively participating in negotiating multilateral agreements to facilitate trade and safeguard investment, increasing the number of Asian Economic and Trade Offices, channeling resources and talents to “One Belt and One Road”- related key areas, and effectively helping the business community to capture opportunities. In addition, the Chief Executive has mentioned that he would ponder setting up a dedicated agency to support our country’s “One Belt and One Road” development, and would coordinate with various business associations and professional bodies to participate in the “One Belt and One Road”. These are very good ideas. I hope they can be put into execution soon enough so that the HKSAR Government can start assuming a leadership role and joining hands with the business community to translate the “One Belt and One Road” opportunities into substantive economic benefits.

This article is firstly published in the magazine CGCC Vision 2016 January issue. Please click here to view the full article.
(Remark: This is a free translation. For the exact meaning of the article, please refer to the Chinese version.)

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