Hong Kong, Guangzhou woo Indian investors to South China

By Fakir Balaji, IANS,

Bangalore : Hong Kong and Guangzhou province have invited Indian investors and entrepreneurs to explore business opportunities in South China.

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“As a renowned international financial centre in Asia, Hong Kong is a favourite destination for investments in the services sector, which accounts for about 90 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” state-run Hong Kong investment promotion director-general Simon Galpin told IANS.

With Guangzhou across Hong Kong as a leading manufacturing base, investors will have access to the burgeoning Chinese market and a strategic advantage to export their products worldwide.

A joint delegation representing Hong Kong and Guangzhou made a presentation to India Inc Thursday on the investment and trade opportunities in the region across sectors, with a slew of incentives and promotional facilities.

About 130 Indian firms from services and manufacturing sectors in the southern region participated in the joint promotional inter-active session.

“Though there is a modest presence of Indian entities (22) in banking, trade, gems and jewellery and merchandise in Hong Kong since the time it was a British colony, its huge potential in other sectors remains to be tapped by India Inc that is looking for expanding its global footprint,” Gilpin said.

With world class business infrastructure, established legal system, free flow of goods and information and financial liquidity, Hong Kong beckons India Inc to take advantage of its strategic location for pitching into the Chinese and east Asian markets.

Guangzhou Deputy Director General Chen Yong Fang said the southern province had a sound eco-system for the manufacturing sector to capitalise on the market opportunities in China and overseas.

“Our province has a strong industrial base and several industrial clusters with skilled workforce and basic infrastructure for setting up captive units in automobile, manufacturing, petrochemicals and information technology (IT) sectors,” Chen pointed out.

Indian presence in the southern province is negligible with a mere $75 million investment in pharma and trade sectors.

As part of the Greater Pearl River Delta Region, Guangzhou emerged as a dynamic economic zone since China embarked on economic reforms in 1979.

Hong Kong and Guangzhou appointed Deloitte Financial Services firm as their advisory to promote the region as an investment destination to India Inc.

Admitting that the region was severely impacted by the global recession and financial crisis during the last 12 months, Gilpin and Chen said as the worst was over, signs of recovery were evident from services and manufacturing turning positive since September.

“We hope more Indian firms will capitalise on Hong Kong as a platform to expand globally. We have built various platforms to strengthen collaborations in ICT (information, communications technologies) development with mainland authorities at central, regional, provincial and civic levels,” HK’s chief information officer Jeremy Godfrey said.

As the special administrative region of China, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy in all areas except foreign affairs and defence.

Though the former ‘crown colony’ of the British empire was transferred to China in 1997, the city-state maintains its own currency, legal system, political system, immigration control and other aspects that concerns its way of life, which are distinct from China.

“The closer economic partnership arrangement between the Hong Kong special administrative region and the Chinese government provides opportunities for Indian firms to enter the mainland market by investing in HK, partnering with HK firms or even acquiring a company in Hong Kong, as the arrangement offers direct access to the huge market across China,” Chen said.

As the sixth largest trading partner of Hong Kong among the Asian economies, India’s trade (two-way) with Hong Kong was $14 billion in 2008, while Indian investment in Hong Kong was a mere $346 million in 2007.

The delegation is visiting Mumbai Friday for a similar exercise to woo Indian investors and enterprises in the western region.