Hong Kong Policy Address 2020 stresses further development in Greater Bay Area

Out-Law News | 02 Dec 2020 | 6:17 am | 2 min. read

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Regions (HK SAR) government has published plans for 200 initiatives in a policy address, including $100 billion a year in infrastructure spending.

The priorities were described in the annual policy address, which stressed efforts to pursue further integration into the mainland China, focusing on a series of initiatives in the Greater Bay Area on further development economically, notably through the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Outline Development Plan).

The Outline Development Plan was launched in 2017 and seeks to foster cooperation among nine cities in China’s Guangdong province and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

The Airport Authority Hong Kong will commission a third runway in 2022. It will acquire more shares in Zhuhai Airport to “deepen cooperation” in the aviation sector and build a “world-class aviation cluster”.

The HK SAR government will continue to invest in infrastructure, spending over $100 billion a year.

The HK SAR government will support Hong Kong’s insurance industry by establishing after-sales service centres in the mainland cities of the GBA under the framework of the CEPA to provide Hong Kong, Macao and mainland residents with comprehensive support in different areas including enquiries, claims and renewal of policies.

A youth employment scheme will be launched to encourage companies with operations in both Hong Kong and the bay area cities to recruit and deploy local university graduates to work on the mainland. The scheme will provide 2,000 places. The HK SAR government will earmark HK$100 million ($12.9bn) to subsidise nearly 200 start-ups of young entrepreneurs in the GBA.

Other GBA initiatives appear aimed at furthering the "dual circulation" policy of China's 14th five-year plan, including cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen on innovation and technology research.

Hong Kong and Shenzhen will be supported in cooperation in developing an international innovation and technology (I&T) hub in the GBA and to joint develop the Shenzhen/Hong Kong I&T cooperation zone (SITZ). It will launch a global STEM professorship scheme for a period of five years at an estimated cost of $2 billion to attract more I&T talent.

Biotechnology companies listed in Hong Kong and companies listed on the mainland's science and technology innovation board will be qualified to be in the stock connect programme, which permits investment flows between the Hong Kong and mainland securities markets.

John Yeap, an infrastructure expert at Pinsent Masons, the firm behind Out-Law, said, "The Greater Bay Area, an economic grouping that would be the 11th largest globally, presents an enticing, and arguably unavoidable, future for the HK SAR and the nine mainland cities plus Macau SAR that make up the grouping. Various key strengths are represented within the cities that make up the grouping, and Hong Kong’s contribution is undoubtedly its open economy, deep financial market, convertible currency, rule of law and global connectivity."

"However, these strengths also represent potential challenges in terms of integrating three economic, tax and legal systems within a single group. Managing or harmonising these differences so as to facilitate an integrated trading bloc without compromising the recognized strengths that each city is able to contribute will require careful navigation, and the recent policy address would seem to signal a revitalised resolve by HK SAR government to address these challenges with the other 10 cities, " he said.