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Doing business

Current business situation

Hong Kong, self-styled as ‘Asia’s world city’, is in fact China’s world city. Hong Kong is one of China’s richest and most developed regions and serves as a two-way interface between the mainland and the world.

Business culture

Any Australian business looking to conduct business in Hong Kong will need to take local cultural dynamics into consideration. The following is a brief guide to some of the basic considerations business representatives should be aware of.

The exchange of business cards is a must in Hong Kong, so it is advisable to carry a large number and should be presented and received with both hands.

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 meetings 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.

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.

Many Hong Kong business people will have an English first name, used with a Chinese family name e.g. 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 e.g. Mr. Chan Tai-Man would be addressed as Mr. Chan.

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.

Chinese place importance on punctuality and visitors should do their best to avoid arriving late. Itineraries should take this into consideration and allow adequate time to move from one appointment to the next.

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.

The exchange of gifts is not widely practised in business in Hong Kong.

Setting up in Market

Hong Kong is one of the easiest markets in which to set up a business. Hong Kong Invest, the government agency established to help overseas businesses invest, provides significant resources and advice on setting up a business. The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macau also has information for those considering setting up a business.

Banking and finance

Hong Kong is a global financial and business centre that is home to some of the largest investors in the Australian economy and serves as the international springboard for mainland Chinese companies with a mandate to invest overseas.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is the government authority in Hong Kong responsible for maintaining monetary and banking stability.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Listing of HKSAR Government and Related Organisations
Companies Registry
Customs and Excise Department
Immigration Department
Information Centre
Inland Revenue Department
International Arbitration Centre, Hong Kong
Intellectual Property Department
Invest Hong Kong  
Labour Department
Food Laws in Hong Kong

Australian associations

The Australian Association
The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong
Hong Kong-Australia Business Association

News and media

South China Morning Post
The Standard

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.

icon Business Risk

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.

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