Hong Kong Still Asia’s Top Central Business District

A recent Hong Kong Trade Development Council survey found Hong Kong to be making the most of its position as a leading trade port and services hub. Edward Leung, HKTDC Director of Research, said that approach is likely to hedge against downside risks and maintain Hong Kong’s place ahead of Singapore and Shanghai as Asia’s top central business district (CBD).

The survey, conducted in the first half of 2012, interviewed more than 500 senior executives from companies based in the Asia-Pacific. Collecting responses from business leaders in 10 cities, the survey looked at impressions about Hong Kong as Asia’s CBD, as well as its competitiveness in six industries – merchandise trade, banking and financial services, professional services, intellectual property trading, logistics and tourism and MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions).

More than half the respondents placed Hong Kong ahead of either Singapore or Shanghai as Asia’s top CBD. Of 10 “essential Asian CBD functions” listed in the survey, “marketing and sourcing platform” and “gateway to the Asian market” were considered the two most important, followed by “financial and fund raising centre.”

The survey also found that Hong Kong’s lead as a CBD in specific industries widens if the market being considered is Greater China rather than Asia as a whole. Given its prominent role in offshore fundraising for Chinese mainland companies and as the largest offshore Renminbi (RMB) centre, Hong Kong has a clear lead in serving Greater China with “banking and financial services” (68%), “tourism and MICE” (61%) and “merchandise trade” (60%).

As global economic gravity shifts from West to East, Hong Kong has become the mainland’s most important external investment destination as well as a platform for foreign opportunities. Hong Kong currently channels more than half of the mainland’s direct investment overseas annually, and has attracted over 3,000 mainland-funded enterprises to the city with bonds in excess of RMB150 billion issued.

Looking ahead, Mr Leung suggested that Hong Kong should fuel its economy by seizing opportunities under China’s 12th Five-year Plan. “By assisting Mainland enterprises to ‘go global’ and engaging international companies to tap vast opportunities in China, Hong Kong will help China drive its economic development in sectors like high-end services and further internationalisation of the RMB. This in turn enhances Hong Kong as a strong regional competitor.”

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