Hong Kong woos Indian firms in a big way

"There are 1,500 companies from India currently operating in Hong Kong, including HCL, Infosys, Titan, TCS, HCL and we are keen on attracting more firms to Hong Kong," Charles Ng Additional Director General, InvestHK, a department of the Hong Kong Government, said. "There are currently 12 Indian banks in Hong Kong and four more are in the process of obtaining license," Charles, who was in the city to set up the India Representative office of InvestHK, told reporters.

Listing out Hong Kong's advantages which include its geographical location, "low simple taxation" and exemption, existence of world class infrastructure and connectivity, he said for more than 150 years, the region had been the preferred entry point of mainland China for business. Given its advantages, Indian firms which were keen in being near the manufacturing hubs in China and operate in Hong Kong (which have among the lowest corporate taxation rates) should look at investments there, he said. Hong Kong offered huge opportunities in financial services, trade, innovation and technology. Being a major trading centre and a hub of many banking financial services and data centres which were looking out to upgrade their technology, it meant good business opportunities for Indian IT software, hardware and service firms.

Hong Kong's advantage in terms of access to procurement, distribution, import and export trading finance and raw material offered opportunities, made it a hub for logistics and firms catering to this space and IT upgradation would find enough business opportunities, Charles said. Apart from these traditional pillars, the new emerging sector was testing and certification. "We are keen that Hong Kong turns into a testing hub in Asia," he said. Innovation and technology was another such area. Hong Kong had the presence of several R&D clusters and those dealing with environment and energy renewal. "With Hong Kong offering IP protection, several global firms had invested in R&D in Hong Kong," he said, while citing the example of Dupont which had set up its global research centre on photovatic cells in that country.

The growing pollution in China also offered opportunities for firms dealing with environment and renewable energy. Professional consultancy firms like human resources, law, accounting were also seeing greater demand in Hong Kong. The greatest opportunity lay in innovation. With several factories in China moving up the value chain, there was a demand for innovative and creative designs for industrial and consumer products. These creative industries were keen in hiring the services of firms that could provide them innovation in terms of design and technology, he said. Digital entertainment space was also catching up in a big way and there was a demand for those catering to this space, Charles said.

Also in the pipeline was Hong Kong's ambitious plan to create a cultural district spread over 40 acres of land in western Kowloon, said Charles. This district aims at the theme of East meeting West and would house the biggest museum, theatres and have various facilities, including restaurants offering both Chinese and western menus. It would offer the best of both worlds. Backed by the government of Hong Kong, there were efforts to woo Indian investors apart from those across the globe to invest in this cultural district in a big way, he said. "We plan to have broadway shows like the west and offer Chinese theatre at the district", he said. "Hong Kong was also keen in attracting bids for setting up of hospitals and training and specialised educational institutes", he said. Hong Kong which sees 2.5 million tourist arrivals was also keen in luring investments in tourism and tourist related activities including restaurants.

Dimissing complaints of high rentals being a major hurdle, he said the primary objective of InvestHK was to guide investors to take up places which suited their business. There were commercial space at lower rentals outside the main hub. The Indian office of InvestHK in Bangalore, managed by Innoversant Solutions Limited, would help companies to gather primary data on availability of commerical space and other requirements, said Narendra Sarawgi, principal constultant. "We would be doing a lot hand holding for companies keen in investing in Hong Kong", said Siddharth Sarawgi, principal consultant for Invest HK.

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