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Pursuing High-quality Growth
Pursuing High-quality Growth<br/>邁向高質量發展

Pursuing High-quality Growth<br/>邁向高質量發展

Pursuing High-quality Growth<br/>邁向高質量發展

Pursuing High-quality Growth<br/>邁向高質量發展

With President Xi Jinping’s unprecedented emphasis on the importance of Hong Kong’s prosperity to China’s overall progress at the Two Sessions 2023 in March, Hong Kong is stepping ambitiously into the next phase of economic development: high-quality growth and innovation.

The city already has all the attributes needed to enhance its role as a competitive centre for financial services, digitalization, Web3, and innovation and technology in the region, especially with the full support of the Mainland. 

Hong Kong should continue to do what it does best – leverage its strength as a super connector and an international financial centre, further developing and strengthening the national financial ecosystem by supporting trade and investment flows, said Agnes Chan, the Chamber’s Deputy Chairman, who attended the Two Sessions meetings in her role as a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). 

“The 14th Five-Year Plan supports the development of Hong Kong in eight key areas,” she explained. “Hong Kong’s geographic position provides us with a unique opportunity to drive and benefit from high-quality growth by actively integrating into national development and connecting China and the rest of the world.” 

The point was reiterated by HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee at the Digital Economy Summit in April, where he promised to work to boost business and investment opportunities in the city as Hong Kong develops its digital economy. 



Financial Secretary Paul Chan is ensuring that the city is at the forefront of Web3, an internet system built using decentralized blockchains. The finance chief is actively promoting Web3, and in his 2023-24 Budget allocated HK$50 million to the Cyberport business park to accelerate the internet service. 

“The recent instability of the virtual assets market and the collapse of some virtual asset exchanges have cast doubts on the future of Web3, but we believe this is the best time to promote development,” he recently wrote on his blog. The Government will also introduce a licensing regime for virtual asset service providers in June to ensure supervision and reduce risks in of Web3 development. 

Elsa Wong, Chairman of the Chamber’s Digital, Information and Telecommunications (DIT) Committee, is of the opinion that two factors need to be considered for Web3 deployment: enforceable regulations that increase the trust of the public, and when the cost of blockchain implementation will drop. “It could be the right time if we have a project which can utilize the technology to address the needs of all the parties involved at a reasonable cost, such as supply chain monitoring for some specific high valued products or helping the vulnerable to get their reasonable returns,” she explained. 

Since Web3 is decentralized, content creators can profit more directly from their works, which will often be paid for in cryptocurrencies and whose ownership will be verified on a blockchain. “Web3 can be useful in many ways, such as in architecture, culture, art and music, etc, where designers and artists can earn profits directly and effectively,” she said. “It can also benefit enterprises through tokenization, helping optimize business processes and enable new platforms with suppliers or partners across different industries.” 


Innovation & Technology 

In December, the Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau revealed ambitious goals in its Innovation & Technology Development Blueprint, which plans to double the number of talent, start-ups and unicorn enterprises in the city over the next 10 years. 

The targets reflect the Bureau’s four broader policy goals: boosting growth through a larger talent pool, enhancing the I&T ecosystem, developing Hong Kong into a smart city, and integration to align with national development.

“The blueprint goals leverage on Hong Kong as a gateway between the Mainland and the rest of the world,” explained Fred Sheu, DIT Committee Vice Chairman. “The city has a strong network of business partners and world-class infrastructure, and doubles as a lucrative platform for collaboration and co-innovation with different stakeholders in the international innovation and technology ecosystem.”

Meanwhile, the city has been flexing its I&T capabilities via timely fairs, including the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s InnoEX exhibition, the Hong Kong Electronics Fair and Hong Kong International Lighting Fair. 

According to Sophia Chong, HKTDC Deputy Executive Director, the three fairs welcomed a total of nearly 3,000 exhibitors across 20 countries and regions, playing a major role in the innotech ecosystem of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. The success of these events reflects Hong Kong’s determination to develop at full speed into an international centre for innovation and technology, she said.


Financial Services

In its role as an international finance hub, Hong Kong enjoys close financial integration with the Mainland and extensive networks with the world, besides a sound legal system, a competitive tax regime, free flow of capital, and diverse financial products. In 2021, the sector employed 7.6% of the city’s working population and contributed to about a quarter of the GDP.

For further growth, Jack Chan, Vice Chairman of the Financial and Treasure Services Committee, suggests accelerating the development of new financial products and services and fostering a culture of innovation. “Hong Kong has a track record of offering innovative, high-quality financial services. We can build on this by exploring new technologies and approaches that enhance efficiency, reduce costs and increase transparency. For example, sustainable finance and digital finance are the two areas in which we should put more efforts.”  

A new listing regime for specialist technology companies, announced by the finance chief and already in effect, is being heralded as a positive step towards development. “Prior to the implementation of the new listing regime, specialist technology companies faced difficulties listing here because they often could not meet the financial eligibility requirements of the Main Board listing,” Chan explained. “Since technology firms have been a mainstay of IPO activity in recent years and are believed to continue to lead listings by volume globally, we expect the new regime will improve the attractiveness of Hong Kong as a listing venue for new economy companies and drive growth in talent and investment in the region and beyond.” 

One area of potential growth is more collaboration with the Mainland to expand mutual market access, enhancement arrangements, etc. “We could work together to develop training and exchange programmes that allow financial professionals in both markets to share knowledge and expertise,” said Chan, as it would also build a stronger pool of talent in the financial services industry. “The same idea applies to information exchange. Sharing data and information on market trends and regulatory developments would help promote greater understanding and cooperation.”



The retail industry is another significant contributor to the economy, representing a fifth of the city’s GDP in 2022. Hong Kong boasts a pivotal position within Asia, offering international and Chinese companies multiple opportunities to launch their products, build their brands and expand their product range. In its pursuit of high-quality development and better national integration, Hong Kong can continue playing a vital role as the bridge between the Mainland and the global market.

“Hong Kong’s dynamic retail market and the opportunities makes it a key destination for launching or expanding brands in Asia,” explained PC Yu, General Committee member and CPPCC member. “As an international city and tourist destination, Hong Kong connects businesses from all over the world. Its cosmopolitan population gives retailers opportunities to strengthen sales and become more visible in a region ready for new products and services. Besides, Hong Kong attracts a diverse pool of visitors from across the globe who favour retailers that promote their products and services using Hong Kong as a shop window.” 

With half of the world’s population living within five hours’ flying time of Hong Kong and the city being well-connected to over 220 destinations, Hong Kong has huge advantages, especially to promote high-quality Chinese products and brands globally, said Yu. “We can help enhance Mainland products and brands to the standard of international level by better utilizing the city’s international outlook, business-friendly environment and free trade port,” he added.


Challenges of the Future

While HK$500 million has been earmarked to launch a Digital Transformation Support Pilot Programme to assist SMEs in applying ready-to-use basic digital solutions, local businesses continue to face some challenges, such as a lack of knowledge and resources. 

Sheu believes that with the advancement of mobile computing, AI and cloud technologies, some digital solutions can be easily adopted and deployed. “For example, SaaS-based online e-business platforms, mobile payments and productivity tools are examples of ready-to-use basic digital solutions that can benefit SMEs,” he explained.

According to Timothy Tam, DIT Committee Vice Chairman, clear frameworks and digital roadmaps will also facilitate better adoption, as evidenced by the examples of the Open AI for the banking sector and the Faster Payment System (FPS), where firms were quick to buy in and adopt once a clear direction was set.

Tam said there is also room to better support SMEs in talent development and cross-sectoral collaboration models and frameworks. “There are gaps in the suitability and availability of talent specialised in product innovation and sales and marketing, as well as talent who can bring in unique perspectives with a combination of these core competencies,” he said. “These gaps reinforce the need for the private and public sectors to work together to assess the competencies in demand, groom local STEM talent, and attract talent from overseas.”

Then there is the challenge of beating out the competition: in the 2023 edition of the IMD Smart City Index, Hong Kong ranked 19th, 12 places below Singapore. 

“Hong Kong has all the elements including capital, access to international markets and global talent from around the world, etc.  to pursue innovation and quality development,” said Wong. “We should be able to stay ahead of competitors with the commitment of the Government and the support of the China.” 

But to achieve this, the Government has to state more clearly how they would adopt and deploy the technology while providing clear vision and targets for industries, said Wong. “Every industry is trying to innovate to address labour shortages, increase efficiency and increase capital. The Government should define a clear statement for each critical issue of the city to be solved, explaining what it wants to achieve in the short and long term.” 

Tam agrees that, despite the challenges, corporates and SMEs are continuing to invest and partner in digital initiatives for long-term impact, and integrating digital solutions and initiatives into daily operations and a customer-centric experience. “The Government’s supportive measures, such as funding and talent schemes, and holistic, long-term talent planning, are expected to catalyse the city’s digitization,” he said.

As Hong Kong sets out on its digital transformation journey, David Lie, former General Committee member and Member of the CPPCC, noted that pursuing these targets go hand-in-hand with the need to disseminate positive stories about Hong Kong to the world. “How the international community perceives us at this time, as we emerge in the post-pandemic era, is crucial, and that is part of the battle,” he said. “While telling good stories about our city, we also have to engage with those who have doubts, and demonstrate to them our strengths and capabilities.” 

After the pandemic-induced challenges of the past few years, we are on our way to economic recovery while working towards quality growth and better national integration, stated Agnes Chan, adding that the only direction to go is up: “To quote Premier Li Qiang, Hong Kong can only become better and stronger.”


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