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 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.

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
Immigration Department
Information Centre
Inland Revenue Department
International Arbitration Centre, Hong Kong
Intellectual Property Department
Invest Hong Kong
Hong Kong-Australia Business Association
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.