Introduction

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) will stage its large-scale promotion, “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” in Toronto, Canada and Chicago, the United States in June 2015. What is “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” all about and how does it benefit companies in Hong Kong and North America? Asia Law Portal spoke to Raymond Yip, Deputy Executive Director of the HKTDC to find out more.

  1. What is “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong”?

In a nutshell, “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” (TATHK) is a mega promotion series organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) to inform companies around the world about the competitive advantages of using Hong Kong’s service platform to tap into the mainland Chinese and other Asian markets.

We launched the TATHK series of promotions in 2011, starting in London (UK), followed by Tokyo and Osaka (Japan) in 2012, Los Angeles and New York (USA) in 2013, and Paris (France) and Milan (Italy) last year.

TATHK was launched against the backdrop of the global economic pendulum swinging towards Asia since the 2007 financial crisis. Today, Asia is experiencing economic growth virtually across the board, fuelling growing demand for better-quality and imported products in the region. Hong Kong companies are the ideal partners for overseas firms to seize the opportunities in Asia, hence the theme of our promotion, “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong.”

Naturally, the Chinese mainland is a major force behind the Asian growth story. As such, developed economies are seeking to expand into the mainland as well as the rest of Asia. However, Western companies may find this a challenge as they are not familiar with this part of the world – our language, culture and way of doing business.

That’s where Hong Kong comes in. Fully conversant with Asian tastes, trends and procedures, and equally familiar with Western cultures and practices, Hong Kong and our services companies are in the best position to help overseas enterprises make forays and expand into the mainland market.

  1. Tell us about the upcoming event

Encouraged by positive results from our previous events, the 2015 edition will take place in Toronto on 8 June and Chicago on 10 June.

It features 16 Hong Kong partners, including government departments, statutory organisations, overseas business chambers in Hong Kong and services industry associations.

The programme for each city features a major symposium as well as thematic sessions on such topics as “Selling to China and throughout Asia”, “Hong Kong: The Gateway for Chinese Outbound Investment”, “RMB Business” and “Hong Kong: A Base for Technology Companies to Grow Their Asian Business.” We will also arrange business-matching meetings and free on-site consultations on how to do businesses in Asia and China. Here, Hong Kong services providers from accounting, legal, business consultancy, ICT and marketing/ branding sectors will give their professional advice. A networking Hong Kong Dinner will also be hosted in both cities.

We are organising our biggest-ever Hong Kong delegation for business matching to the US and Canada.

  1. Who will be attending “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” 2015?

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR Government, CY Leung, will be Guest of Honour and speaker in both Toronto and Chicago, with the events expected to attract more than 1,500 participants in each city. Other high-profile participants from Hong Kong include Vincent Lo, who takes up the Chairmanship of the HKTDC on 1 June 2015; Laura Cha, Chairman of the Financial Services Development Council, Hong Kong; Norman Chan, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority; Peter Lam, Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board; and James E. Thompson, Chairman of Crown Worldwide Group.

In Toronto, Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade will be our Guest of Honour at the main symposium, while Michael Chan, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade of Ontario will attend the Hong Kong Dinner. In Chicago, our symposium Guest of Honour will be Stefan Selig, US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. They will be joined by a long list of business elites who have connections with the respective cities.

More than 100 government and business leaders from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland will take part in the promotion which is supported by more than 80 supporting organisations in the US and Canada. Participating sectors include technology, ICT, digital entertainment, finance, food and wine and professional services with business-matching sessions organised onsite.

  1. Why is Hong Kong important for foreign companies seeking to do business in China?

Hong Kong has close business ties with the US, Canada, and Asia, including ASEAN economies and, of course, the Chinese mainland. This has set a good foundation for Hong Kong to become a platform for North American companies expanding into Asia.

On the strength of these foundations, North American companies are familiar with, and have confidence in Hong Kong’s business-friendly environment including our Common Law system, rule of law, low tax regime and so on. It is relatively easy for them to set up in Hong Kong, partner Hong Kong companies or use the services provided by Hong Kong to enter the Asian and Chinese mainland markets, because of our business strengths.

Hong Kong’s gateway role is underpinned by its ideal location in the heart of Asia, its role as a regional logistics hub, International financial centre and technology marketplace. We also have a first-mover advantage in the mainland, thanks to our cross-border connections and the preferential treatment provided under our free trade pact, the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).

Participants will learn more about what Hong Kong has to offer when they attend TATHK in Toronto and Chicago.

  1. What is the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC)?

The HKTDC was established in 1966. It is a statutory body that serves as the main international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and services providers. With more than 40 offices globally, including 13 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and throughout Asia. The HKTDC also organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to provide companies, particularly SMEs, with business opportunities on the mainland and in overseas markets, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and digital channels.

  1. How can the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) help companies interested in doing business in China?

We organise a variety of business missions for companies to study the Chinese mainland market and make business contacts. “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” is an example of our promotional activities overseas, while many other such events are taking place on a smaller scale in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland all year round.

The HKTDC SME Centre also offers a business library with a selection of trade and business-related market intelligence available free of charge. A dedicated “China Business” zone is incorporated with literature covering trade, economic and business information on mainland provinces and cities, including trade directories, trade fair catalogues, China statistics, industry and provincial yearbooks.

The HKTDC SME Centre also joins hands with Chinese mainland municipal governments, industry players and local business experts to offer a free China Business Advisory Service to help Hong Kong SMEs overcome business challenges and acquire the latest market intelligence in tapping the Chinese mainland market.  In 2014/15, more than 1,000 China Business Advisory sessions were conducted.

The HKTDC is one of the world’s leading trade fair organisers. In Hong Kong, we organise more than 30 exhibitions a year, 10 are the largest marketplaces of their kind in Asia, with Electronics, Jewellery, Gifts and Watches & Clocks being the largest marketplaces in the world. During the last financial year, our 35 fairs attracted more than 36,000 exhibitors and over 753,000 buyers from all over the world, including many from the Chinese mainland.

The hktdc.com free sourcing service generates more than 20 million business connections between buyers and suppliers each year. In addition, the HKTDC’s Customised Business Matching and Buyer Meetings help match buyers and suppliers from Hong Kong and the mainland.

On the services side, the annual Asian Financial Forum (AFF), Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference (ALMC) and Business of IP Asia Forum (BIP Asia) provide participants with the latest information about the relevant sectors, including those in the Chinese mainland, while creating opportunities for overseas business people to establish contact with Chinese mainland counterparts. These events are organised jointly with the Hong Kong SAR Government.

The HKTDC publishes more than 20 product magazines and industry supplements that reach five million readers around the world. They feature a wide range of suppliers in various sectors. You can also sign up to our mobile-friendly business news website, Hong Kong Means Business for the latest stories, market intelligence and information about upcoming events.

Our Research Department provides timely market information, sharing more than 2,000 research articles a year across a broad range of topics, including market trends and industry forecasts about China that can help companies do business across the border. They are available at www.hktdc.com/Research.

The HKTDC counts more than 40 offices around the world, including 13 on the Chinese mainland. Overseas companies are welcome to contact our Head Office in Hong Kong for advice on doing business with China through Hong Kong.

  1. What types of companies do you typically help?

Much of the HKTDC’s work is targeted at Hong Kong SMEs. SMEs are the backbone of Hong Kong’s economy, but they typically have fewer resources than larger enterprises. The HKTDC uses its vast business networks and knowledge bank of information built up over the past five decades to give Hong Kong’s SMEs a competitive edge. Our fairs and exhibitions also provide SMEs with a remarkable display window that attracts buyers from around the world.

To find out more information about the upcoming “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” promotion, please visit the TATHK website at: http://www.thinkasiathinkhk.com/2015/en/index.html.  You can also find out more about the HKTDC here: www.hktdc.com/aboutus. Or you can follow them on  Google+  Twitter: @hktdc  LinkedIn.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal and is the author of A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets. He provides writing, editing, research and strategy services to the corporate and professional services sectors.

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