Smoothing the path for Hong Kong-bound businesses

InvestHK has been helping incoming companies to succeed in Hong Kong and beyond for 16 years

Benjamin Wong, InvestHKBenjamin Wong (pictured left), Head of Transport & Industrial at InvestHK, a government agency tasked with attracting foreign direct investment to Hong Kong, is keen to ensure that foreign companies are aware of how the agency can help make their establishment in Hong Kong and the growth of their business as smooth as possible.

“We try to bring companies to Hong Kong and we do what we can to ensure their success, says Mr Wong.  In the case of a maritime-related firm, as part of the company’s set up process InvestHK will advise on the policies in Hong Kong relating to the marine sector and provide information on agreements between Hong Kong and Mainland China.

“It’s an important part of our work because many companies are arriving in Asia with the intention of entering the Mainland China market. We also advise on the agreements and connections we have with other countries in the region,” he adds

Setting up in Hong Kong
The actual facilitation process carried out by InvestHK includes a hand-holding exercise that smooths the process of setting up a business in Hong Kong from finding the right business location and business registration to getting visas for ex-patriots and their families.

“We work closely with the Immigration Department on visa issues. And we have dedicated personnel helping with placement of children into international schools. We can even help arrange the entry of family pets

Getting your message out
As a government body we have to be neutral but once a company has been successfully set up we try to provide as much exposure as we can for them through our newsletter. This is issued every two months and is distributed to our 30 offices around the world as well as the companies we are assisting and to their clients,” says Mr Wong

InvestHK is also keen to connect its clients with the right people. “We don’t do business matching exactly but we try to introduce them to the right circles.

Making the Hong Kong-China connection
“This part of our work is not confined to Hong Kong. We have five offices on the Mainland in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu. Staff in those offices meet a lot of people, including government officials and company heads. And they will try to make use of these established contacts to help our clients who are looking for a partner in China. This way our clients retain the advantages of the common law system and open financial market, which is found in Hong Kong, an advantage that the mainland partner will also benefit from.

“The offices in Mainland China are part of our overall network to which we can introduce those companies who set up in Hong Kong. Beyond utilizing that network we can also introduce clients to the Chinese liaison office based here in Hong Kong. When the office holds business and trade seminars we frequently introduce service providers,” Mr Wong concludes.

An attentive after care service is also offered to clients who feel the need.

The Hong Kong advantage has just got even better
Marine-related businesses that choose Hong Kong as a base have always benefitted from a number of key advantages including:

  • A well established common law system
  • Unrivalled financial services
  • A low taxation regime
  • The fourth largest ship register in the world

But recent developments in Hong Kong will boost still further its attraction to the maritime sector. The Special Administrative Region headed by chief executive Leung Chun-ying has recognized the importance of the maritime sector to Hong Kong’s economy by presenting a series of policy initiatives.

“The new incentives for businesses operating in Hong Kong are not limited to maritime companies. Hong Kong’s chief executive C Y Leung has a wider outlook which envisages Hong Kong as a premium maritime cluster including such maritime-related companies as ship finance, marine insurance, maritime law and arbitration,” to name a few says Mr Wong.

“Key among the decisions made by the administration is the proposed establishment of a Maritime and Port Board. Through this independent entity there will be more resources made available for the policy research side and that will support policy making in the long run,” he says.

The MPB will have close ties to the Transport and Housing Bureau, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and of course InvestHK. Through cooperation with these bodies, the industry and its representatives the new body will be able to present important policy initiatives directly to government.

Meanwhile, a more general initiative from which maritime-related companies can also benefit is the proposed Corporate Treasury Centre. Under this proposal companies that perform their treasury functions in Hong Kong and meet the criteria of CTC will find their profits tax halved to 8.25% on profits generated by their treasury function.

“This is an attempt to leverage on Hong Kong’s excellent financial platform because intrinsic in the treasury function there will be asset management and foreign exchange. Other jurisdictions might attempt a half rate scheme for treasury functions but if they don’t have the market platform support it won’t work. The CTC proposal is still in consultation as of February 2016, but we are hopeful that it will come into effect before the end of 2016,” says Mr Wong.

As shipping struggles on a global scale it seems there is no place better to be operating from than Hong Kong.