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The event was attended by delegates from the food, business-process management/outsourcing, construction, franchising, games and animation, jewellery, government and tourism sectors, and from the Philippine Young Entrepreneur Association and Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc.

DTI-EMB Assistant Director Anthony Rivera said, “EMB is pleased to collaborate with the HK economic and trade office. We have shown support to one of our major trading partners. This event has been organized way back three months ago.

As we move toward the new era of trade, we have coorganized this event to explore more about our common interests and to leverage on this event to further collaborate and identify business opportunities which the Philippines and Hong Kong could expand together. This is what we see now as cross promotion, a vital element for us to combine our common interests to move ahead and grow.

“We have strong business connections in various industries, including tourism.  Our connections are strong both in business and in pleasure. In 2015 our bilateral trade was $8 billion, with exports at $6.4 billion and imports at $1.1 billion.

“In 2015 Hong Kong was the fifth major trading partner of the Philippines, third-biggest export market and 12th importer which keeps trade growing.  As we nurture each other in trade activities, our total growth from 2011-2015 has averaged around 12 percent. Our tourists going to HK totalled 704,000 in 2015 with an increase of around 10.9 percent from 2014.

“With this ever-present open window of opportunity we intend to visit Hong Kong together with our business community next year to nurture our business relations and pursue new business activities as part of the commitments being considered in line with the Philippine Export Development Plan.”

Dr. Jimmy Chiang, associate director general of Invest HK, presented in the meeting Hong Kong’s one-country, two-system principle, where investors enjoy unique advantages in Hong Kong as a region of China.

China blessed Hong Kong with direct exposure to tremendous opportunities from China, the second-largest economy in the world. Hong Kong is known to be “the super connector” between China and the world. At the same time, Hong Kong practices its own party system, sound legal system  and enjoys an independent judiciary, which upholds intellectual property laws favorable to investor interests.

Hong Kong adopts simple taxation with 16.5-percent rate for companies and 2 percent to 15 percent tax rate for employees. Interest income, capital gains and dividends are not subject to tax. It has no import tariff with exemption on car, petrol and tobacco.

It is strategically located because it is just a four-hour flight from key markets and five hours from countries constituting half of the world’s population. It is three hours from Beijing and two hours from Manila.

HK’s global connectivity is facilitated by 11,000 flights per day operated by more than a 100 airlines serving 190 destinations worldwide, including 50 in mainland China. Hong Kong has the busiest airport and one of the busiest container ports in the world.

A lot of multinational companies have regional headquarters in Hong Kong, such as Nissan, the Japanese car maker.

More than making it a regional headquarters, the vice chairman of GE works in Hong Kong to do all business activities outside the US.

Hong Kong is not just for big companies, but also for start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are creating new ventures. In recent years, overseas companies are injecting a lot of energy in incubators. According to surveys, there are 16,000 start-up companies set up in Hong Kong in 2015 representing a year-on-year increase of 46 percent.

Aside from funding technology and innovation incubators and start-ups, Hong Kong employs a professional team and has a comprehensive web site dedicated to start-ups. It has a signature event, known as the Hong Kong Festival, to attract and encourage entrepreneurs, investors, research-and-development centers, start-up and other business stakeholders from all over the world do exchanges and networking. The next festival is scheduled in January 2017.

With “Belt and Road” initiatives, Hong Kong aims to enhance political, economic and cultural cooperation among more than 60 countries situated along an economic belt and road. In line with this, a lot of infrastructure related to transportation, electricity and telecommunications will be built. Hong Kong complements this project with very strong professional legal, accounting and engineering services. As an international financial center, HK is able to raise capital for this Belt and Road project. International companies, including Philippine companies are encouraged to harness the Belt and Road opportunities in Asia.□

Gliceria N. Cademia, Export Marketing Bureau, Department of Trade and Industry

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