Hong Kong continues to attract multinationals, start-ups: gov’t surveys

Xinhua News Agency | Oct 21, 2019 at 11:22 AM

HONG KONG, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- The numbers of companies in Hong Kong from overseas and the mainland, including start-ups, has continued increasing, according to two latest surveys published on Monday by the government of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

"I am glad to see that Hong Kong continues to attract and retain leading overseas and Chinese mainland companies, as well as entrepreneurs from around the globe who use Hong Kong as the base to set up leading-edge and innovative businesses," Stephen Phillips, director-general of investment promotion of the HKSAR government, commented while citing the survey results.

One of the surveys, jointly conducted by InvestHK, an investment-promoting department of the HKSAR government, and the Census and Statistics Department, revealed that the number of business operations in Hong Kong with parent companies overseas and in the Chinese mainland has increased by 9.9 percent to 9,040 over the figure of 2017.

According to the 2019 Annual Survey of Companies in Hong Kong with Parent Companies Located Outside Hong Kong, among the 9,040 companies, 1,541 have set up regional headquarters in Hong Kong, up 9.1 percent over the number in 2017.

In terms of jobs, the number of people engaged in the overseas and Chinese mainland companies reached an all-time high at 493,000, compared to 443,000 in 2017, recording an increase of 11.3 percent. In terms of origin, the Chinese mainland ranked the first with 1,799 companies, followed by Japan (1,413), the United States (1,344), Britain (713) and Singapore (446).

The survey also collected views on the attractiveness of Hong Kong as a location for setting up businesses. Favorable factors included "simple tax system and low tax rate" (71 percent), "free flow of information" (63 percent), "geographical location" (61 percent) and "free port status" (59 percent).

The other survey, the 2019 Annual Startup Survey, found that there were 3,184 start-ups operating in major public and private co-work spaces and incubators in Hong Kong, up 42.8 percent from 2,229 in 2017. These start-ups employed over 12,400 persons, an increase of 97.4 percent over the 2017 figure.

According to the survey, the start-up community was highly international, with 34 percent of the founders from outside Hong Kong, including the United States, Britain, France, Australia and so on. Major sectors of start-ups include "Fintech", "E-commerce, supply chain management and logistics technology", "Information, computer and technology", "Design" and "Professional and consultancy services."

"Despite global uncertainties, I am confident that Hong Kong's enduring business advantages such as its strategic position in the region as well as its international status as a sophisticated business and financial city will continue to attract world-class investment," said Phillips.

"The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development and the Belt and Road Initiative will also bring new opportunities," he added.

Phillips said that the social unrest in Hong Kong in recent months has had a dampening effect on investment sentiment, and InvestHK will devote more efforts to carrying out promotional work, particularly in strategic markets, to deepen investors' understanding of Hong Kong, rebuild their confidence and promote the city's crucial functions in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development and the Belt and Road Initiative.