Doing business

Current business situation

Hong Kong is considered the financial centre of Greater China as one of its richest and most developed regions, and serves as a two-way interface between the mainland and the world. In recent years, the Hong Kong Government has focused on boosting innovation and technology, as well as attracting early stage companies to market.

Technology Focus

As part of the Chief Executive’s 2017 Policy Address, key highlights include the Government’s commitment to promote innovation and technology to bring new economic drive and improve people’s daily lives. Part of this commitment involves establishing the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation Park as an international IT hub in the Bay Area, which would supplement Hong Kong’s existing sophisticated IT infrastructure. The Hong Kong Government has continued implementing IT development by announcing it would set aside HKD$50 billion it as part of the 2018-2019 budget.

Hong Kong also boasts world-class innovation, technology and science infrastructure. It is home to the Science and Technology Park and Cyberport, which host over 680 and 1000 tech companies respectively. These communities are designed to foster tech culture, encourage collaboration and nurture talent through incubator and accelerator programs. The Government has also established five tech R&D centres focused on Automotive Parts and Accessory Systems, Information and Communications Technologies, Textiles and Apparel, Logistics and Supply Chain MultiTech, and Nano and Advanced Materials.

Start-up focus

The Hong Kong Government is also focused on attracting overseas startups and early stage companies to the region. With generous tax incentives for SMEs, as well as a large co-working space industry, Hong Kong has developed a robust startup ecosystem. There are also a number of Government bodies established to assist and fund tech companies in Hong Kong, such as:

Australian regional base in Asia

In addition to being an international hub, Hong Kong is known as a being an Australian regional base in Asia. Hong Kong is home to approximately 100,000 Australians and has over 600 Australian businesses operating in the region. There is a large Australian business network that includes the Australian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong and Macau (AustCham), which is the largest Australian business community outside of Australia as well as Support Australia, an umbrella group representing key Hong Kong-based Australian organisations that includes the Australian Consulate-General and industry bodies.

The Australian and Hong Kong Governments are also pursuing a Fair Trade Agreement. This FTA will enhance our bilateral trading relationship and is to be finalised soon. For more information, see the DFAT FTA Fact Sheet.

Business culture

Any Australian business looking to conduct business in Hong Kong will need to take local cultural dynamics into consideration.

The exchange of business cards is a must in Hong Kong, so it is advisable to carry a large number with you at all times. Business cards 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 your Chinese contacts 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. Invest Hong Kong, 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.

The Global Financial Centre Index places Hong Kong as the third leading global financial centre, only after London and New York. [1]  Furthermore, Hong Kong is the 3rd largest course of foreign direct investment (FDI) globally after the US and mainland China. [2] It is also the number one centre for international renminbi (RMB) trading, sharing about 76% of the world’s RMB clearing activities. [3]

Hong Kong is well-known for its low tax regime and sound legal, accounting, and financial services. As part of its strategy to encourage early-stage companies to enter the market, the Hong Kong Government also announced in 2017 that it would provide tax relief to small and medium-sized enterprises; a profits tax rate for the first HK$2 million of profits proposed to be lowered to 8.25%, and standard tax rate at 16.5% for profits exceeding that amount. [4]

[1] Global Financial Centres Index 2018
[2] UNCTAD World Investment Report 2018
[3] HKTDC Hong Kong Economic Fact Sheet
[4] HKTDC Hong Kong Economic Fact Sheet

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

The Australian Association
The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong
Companies Registry
Customs and Excise Department
Food Laws in Hong Kong
Hong Kong-Australia Business Association
Immigration Department
Information Centre
Inland Review Department
International Arbitration Centre, Hong Kong
Intellectual Property Department
Invest Hong Kong
Labour Department
Listing of HKSAR Government and Related Organisations

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. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.