Last updated: 15 Aug 2012
Current business situation
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) provides advice for business travellers and tourists going to Hong Kong. This is regularly updated, and should be checked before planning travel.
Although Hong Kong is a Westernised society, Hong Kong Chinese business people still retain their local customs and practices, which have a profound effect on business relationships.
Gifts – The exchange of gifts is not widely practised in business in Hong Kong.
Business cards – The exchange of business cards is a must in Hong Kong so it is advisable to carry a large number on you. Business cards should be presented and received with both hands.
Establishing contacts and networks – Exporters should send as much documented information about their companies, products and services as possible in advance of their visit. Business visitors must remember to follow up on their meetings in Hong Kong when they return to Australia. The quality of your agent or representative’s contacts is crucial, and business introductions are vital, as companies do not deal with unknown or recommended contacts.
Business entertainment – Dinners and lunches with local representatives and customers help to develop networks. Seating should be arranged so that the Australians are spaced evenly with the Chinese guests.
Correspondence – Answer enquiries, proposals, correspondence and invitations as soon as possible. At the very least, immediately send an acknowledgement stating that an answer will follow shortly. If you do not show sufficient interest and speed in your correspondence, your potential customer will easily find another firm who will!
Face – Avoid embarrassing Chinese in the presence of others. To avoid the person losing face, discuss any criticisms in private. In some cases, it may be helpful to use an intermediary to convey criticism, particularly with someone of high social status.
Punctuality – Chinese place importance on punctuality and Australian visitors should do their best to avoid arriving late at appointments. Itineraries should take this into consideration and allow adequate time to move from one appointment to the next.
Forms of address – Many Hong Kong business people will have an English first name, used with a Chinese family name, eg. Peter Chan. In this case, the family name is used last, as in Australia. Normally when a Chinese name is written, the family name comes first, with the given name following, eg. Mr Chan Tai-Man would be addressed as Mr Chan.
Links and resources
Government, business and trade
The Australian Association – www.ozhongkong.com
The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong – www.austcham.com.hk
HKSAR Government Companies Registry – www.cr.gov.hk
HKSAR Government Customs and Excise Department – www.customs.gov.hk
HKSAR Government Information Centre – www.gov.hk/en/residents/
HKSAR Government Inland Revenue Department – www.ird.gov.hk/eng/welcome.htm
HKSAR Government Labour Department – www.labour.gov.hk
HKSAR Immigration Department – www.immd.gov.hk
Hong Kong-Australia Business Association – www.hkaba.com.au
Hong Kong Trade & Industry Department – www.tid.gov.hk
Food Laws in Hong Kong – www.cfs.gov.hk/english/food_leg/food_leg.html
News and media
South China Morning Post (SCMP.com) – www.scmp.com
Please note: this list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only.
OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
Multinational Enterprises should be aware of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises that provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business behaviour in a variety of areas, consistent with applicable domestic laws. These Guidelines are endorsed and promoted by the Australian Government. For more information, go to the AusNCP website.
APEC Business Travel Card Scheme
Managed by the Department of Immigration, the APEC Business Travel Card Scheme was developed to make travelling within the 21 APEC member countries much simpler and more efficient.
IP Passport fact sheets
These fact sheets outline foreign Intellectual Property (IP) regimes and some of the issues and challenges which may be faced by Australian exporters.
The current fact sheets are available on the IP Australia website.