Published: 10:42, May 25, 2024
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Business opportunities in Bay Area impress Paris
By Shamim Ashraf in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po speaks at the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Europe (France) Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference in Paris, France, on May 24, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

Senior officials from the governments of Guangdong province and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions showcased the vast opportunities presented by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to French and European business leaders at a high-level conference in Paris on Friday.

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Europe (France) Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference attracted more than 400 attendees, including officials and business leaders from around the world. Many represented Fortune 500 companies, leading industries, well-known enterprises, and business associations.

The event featured keynote presentations from Guangdong Governor Wang Weizhong, Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, and Macao Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U.

READ MORE: HK ideal base for French firms to build businesses in Asia, says Chan

Also addressing the event were Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye, and Gilles-Henry Garault, vice-president of the Society for the Encouragement of National Industry.

Through Hong Kong, you enjoy convenient and sometimes even priority access to the Mainland market, while taking full advantage of our international character under "two systems".

Paul Chan Mo-po, Financial Secretary, HKSAR

In his speech, Chan shed light on the GBA’s sizeable consumer market. With a per capita GDP of around $23,000, and a purchasing power parity equivalent to around $40,000, the region “presents a huge market for French goods”, he said.

He highlighted Hong Kong's strategic position as the GBA’s international gateway under the “one country, two systems” framework, making his city an ideal location for French companies to access the Asian and Chinese markets.

Hong Kong is already home to over 10,000 French citizens and about 340 French companies, he said.

“For French businesses, Hong Kong uniquely stands out in a few areas: as an international financial center, an innovation and technology hub, a transnational supply-chain management hub, and a leader in green and sustainable development,” Chan said.

For example, Hong Kong — with mutual market access programs with the mainland, termed “Connect Schemes” — offer unique opportunities for French companies for listing and capital access, Chan said. As the world’s largest offshore renminbi business hub, Hong Kong also provides a range of RMB investment options.

ALSO READ: Chan encourages French enterprises to pursue prospects in HK

He boasted of Hong Kong’s research excellence, with five universities in the global top 100, and the city’s prominent role in global green tech and green finance. “Last year, green bonds arranged in Hong Kong accounted for one-third of the entire Asian market,” Chan said.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po (second right); Governor of Guangdong province Wang Weizhong (first right); and Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao Special Administrative Region Ao Ieong U (second left) exchange views with guests from the French commercial and industrial sector before the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Europe (France) Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference in Paris, France, May 24, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

The financial secretary welcomed global business and talent, highlighting the success of the Top Talent Pass Scheme and other initiatives, which have attracted 290,000 applicants and 120,000 new arrivals to Hong Kong to date.

In her keynote speech, Ao Ieong elaborated on Macao’s unique position as a liaison with Portuguese-speaking countries, a free port, a customs territory, and a cultural crossroads between China and the West.

She also highlighted the development of the Hengqin cooperation zone under the close collaboration with neighboring Zhuhai; and the GBA’s mature transport infrastructure, which provides a comprehensive set of landing facilities for talent across the region.

READ MORE: HK, France ink pact on film, TV cooperation at Cannes

She encouraged French officials and businesspeople to visit Macao, experience the diverse cultural charm of the city, and the convenience within the GBA’s one-hour living circle.

At the conference, Invest Hong Kong, the city’s governmental investment promotion agency, signed memorandums of understanding with three French enterprises —Prophesee, Suez and Egis — to support their investments and operations in Hong Kong. Macao also secured contracts signed with three French companies, involved in European oak, department-store operations, and smart water meters.

Contact the writer at shamim@chinadailyhk.com