Hong Kong offers good prospects for growth for companies in the West Midlands looking to invest in the region, the province’s director of trade and investment has said.
Iain Lindsay, visiting the West Midlands to raise awareness of two forthcoming trade missions to Hong Kong, said companies from all sectors could benefit from developing trade links with Chinese companies.
He said interest in UK companies had never been as high and with stagnating growth rates in Britain and Europe, now was a perfect time to invest in China, which is still enjoying growth of between seven to eight per cent.
In 2006, Hong Kong’s GDP grew 6.8 per cent to almost £100 billion. The value of trade in goods was £300 billion and direct investment inflow was £21 billion. It maintains its position as Asia’s second largest destination for foreign direct investment.
Growth is now targeted at four per cent this year but this is still way above anything happening in the UK.
“The West Midlands is a region that recognises the growth potential of Hong Kong and the mainland,” said Mr Lindsay.
“There are two trade missions being planned to visit the region in the New Year; one from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and one from Coventry and Warwickshire.”
“Both will, I am sure, be well supported and I know there are dedicated people behind these ventures who firmly believe in what we are trying to do,” he added.
He said many businesses in Hong Kong and on the mainland favoured working with British business because of its good reputation, in particular in the education sector where British universities are opening mainland annexes to serve the demand for English studies.
“Companies working in ICT and in the financial services are also being sought out,” said Mr Lindsay.
“Although manufacturing companies and many others are just as important.”
Manufacturing companies are being lured because of easy access to mainland China, via Fujian province.
He said there was also a clamour from Chinese companies to work in partnership with British firms, especially in research and development where they saw long-term benefits in terms of added value.
“We help a lot of firms from Hong Kong looking to set up links with the UK,” said Mr Lindsay.
“The UK is still seen as an attractive market for many firms here because of factors such as its flexible labour market and lack of red tape.
“The activity is such, that the UK is the second largest market for overseas investment from Hong Kong.”
On the mainland, the Pan-Pearl River Delta region, including the vibrant Fujian province, offers new opportunities for Hong Kong-based companies, especially in the service industries which provide invaluable support to business concerns across southern China.
Fujian is right at the juncture of China’s most economically developed areas - the Yangtze River delta to the north and the Pearl River delta to the south.
By the end of 2007, 41,663 foreign enterprises were established in the province.
Foreign investment flowing into the area amounted to around £3.5 billion.
The principal industries in the area are electronics, machine-building and petro-chemical.
Mr Lindsay said his organisation worked in conjunction with the China British Business Council to help firms get access to the area.