City to sustain competitive edge: CE

October 25, 2023

Hong Kong continues to create strong impetus for growth but must sustain its efforts in view of fierce global competition, Chief Executive John Lee said today in his 2023 Policy Address as he outlined initiatives to attract enterprises, investment and talent to Hong Kong.


Mr Lee stressed that measures launched last year on each of these aims have so far generated positive results.


On efforts to attract talent, he said some 160,000 applications had been received, and that of these 100,000 had now been approved and around 60,000 individuals had already arrived in Hong Kong as of the end of September.


He also noted that the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises had reached out to over 200 strategic enterprises, with 30 indicating that they plan to establish a foothold or expand their operations in Hong Kong. These plans involve about $30 billion in new investment and the creation of around 10,000 new employment opportunities.


Meanwhile, in the first nine months of this year, Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) assisted over 300 Mainland and overseas enterprises in establishing or expanding their operations in Hong Kong, representing an increase of more than 25% over the same period last year.


The Chief Executive said that Hong Kong will continue to strive to attract enterprises, particularly those relevant to the city’s development across “eight centres”, including advanced technology, innovation and strategic industries.


Adding that the development of Hong Kong’s “headquarters economy” will continue apace, with enterprises being attracted to set up headquarters or corporate divisions here, Mr Lee iterated that Hong Kong is ideally placed to help foreign enterprises tap into the Mainland whilst also assisting Mainland enterprises in expanding abroad. He added that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will discuss with the relevant central authorities further measures to help Mainland enterprises establish a presence in the city. 


He also outlined that the Government will introduce a mechanism to help companies domiciled overseas re-domicile in Hong Kong. Explaining that the mechanism will appeal in particular to companies focused on markets in the Asia-Pacific region, and that InvestHK and the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing will reach out to major Hong Kong-listed companies domiciled overseas, he said the aim was to present the necessary legislative amendments to the Legislative Council in the first half of next year.


Mr Lee announced, meanwhile, that in order to attract more overseas companies to establish operations in Hong Kong, and to facilitate business travel to the Mainland for people working in such companies, foreign staff working for companies registered in Hong Kong may, from tomorrow, apply to the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in Hong Kong for multiple‑entry Mainland visas that are valid for two or more years. Their applications will enjoy priority processing, he added.


The Chief Executive also highlighted various new measures that the Government believes will attract and retain talent. Having launched the Hong Kong Talent Engage scheme online last year, it will establish a physical office for the initiative by the end of this month to provide support for talent arriving in Hong Kong. Looking further ahead, a talent development conference will be held in 2024 to promote co-operation in talent attraction in the Greater Bay Area.


The Government will also expand its Top Talent Pass Scheme by adding eight esteemed institutions from the Mainland and overseas to the list of eligible universities under the scheme, with effect from November. Moreover, from today Hong Kong’s visa policy in respect of employment for citizens of Vietnam who qualify as talent, as well as the criteria for Vietnamese applicants for multiple-entry visas for the purposes of business or travel, have been relaxed. The visa policy with regard to Laotian and Nepalese talent coming to Hong Kong for employment or training opportunities, or to study at University Grants Committee-funded institutions, will also be relaxed.


Mr Lee added that the Government will implement a Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, with details to be announced by the end of the year. Under the scheme, eligible investors who make investments of $30 million or above in certain assets can apply for entry into Hong Kong. 


Under the Vocational Professionals Admission Scheme, meanwhile, starting with the cohort admitted in 2024/25 non‑local students on full-time professional Higher Diploma programmes designated by the Vocational Training Council will be allowed to stay in Hong Kong for one year after graduation to seek jobs relevant to their disciplines. 


The Chief Executive also unveiled plans to set up a dedicated office and an expert group within the next year to carry forward the establishment of the Hong Kong International Legal Talents Training Academy. Capitalising on Hong Kong’s bilingual common law system and international status, the academy will promote talent exchange activities in regions included in the Belt & Road Initiative. It will also provide training for individuals involved in foreign-related legal affairs in the Mainland, and nurture legal talents conversant with international law, common law, civil law and the Mainland’s legal system.


Mr Lee also revealed that the Independent Commission Against Corruption will establish the Hong Kong International Academy Against Corruption in the first quarter of 2024. The academy will organise training for anti-corruption professionals from around the world, as well as for the public and private sectors in Hong Kong, and promote experience-sharing among anti-corruption experts and scholars from Hong Kong, the Mainland and overseas.

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