Stronger ties with Mainland China and ASEAN and further support for SMEs are key measures in Hong Kong’s 2022-23 spending plans.

Stronger trade and investment ties with Mainland China and the world at large, boosting the broader trade industry and enhancing the technology sector, especially fintech, were key themes in the Hong Kong Budget for 2022-23, delivered by Paul Chan, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Financial Secretary.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) welcomed the Budget, including the additional funding to the council for a support scheme for Hong Kong businesses in the mainland that can help them capture opportunities under the National 14th Five-year Plan. The Budget also included relief measures for Hong Kong’s citizens and SMEs to support the economy amid the continuing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and plan for its long-term sustainable development.

Meeting challenges

HKTDC chairman Dr Peter K N Lam said: “The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to SMEs in the past two years. The measures announced in this year’s Budget, including enhancements to various export credit and SME financing schemes, can alleviate pressures on cash flow and operations. In addition, the various measures to support the IP (intellectual property) and technology sectors can also help SMEs tap into new markets and upgrade and transform their business.

“We are also encouraged that the HKSAR Government has allocated additional funding to support Hong Kong businesses pursuing development in the mainland. Through our network of mainland offices, we will work with partners, including established Hong Kong businesses, professional services, and young entrepreneur associations in these cities, to organise training, exchange events, business missions and promotion campaigns.

“We believe this can help Hong Kong businesses in the mainland to expand and capture opportunities arising from the ‘dual circulation’ strategy and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, so as to better integrate into the nation’s development,” Dr Lam said.

SME boost

In addition to the mainland market, the HKTDC will continue helping SMEs capture business opportunities in mature and emerging markets, Dr Lam said. “We will continue to help Hong Kong companies develop Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and mature markets with enhancements to our flagship overseas promotions such as ‘Think Business, Think Hong Kong’, as well as strengthen our online and offline platforms, business matching services, SME support schemes and other training activities, to help Hong Kong businesses connect with global enterprises and target relevant opportunities effectively. We are also glad to learn that the Government will actively consider attracting more conventions and exhibition events to be organised in Hong Kong when the pandemic subsides.

“Our team at the HTKDC will do all we can to create new opportunities for our industries, enabling them to diversify and find new impetus for recovery and growth amid the pandemic.”

Trade promotion

Emphasising the government’s efforts to promote trade, Chan said in his Budget speech that the Government had previously allocated an additional HK$835 million (US$107 million) in total to the HKTDC in six years from 2018‑19 onwards to implement trade promotion measures, consolidating Hong Kong’s status as a business hub in Asia and exploring business opportunities for Hong Kong companies.

“In the coming year, the HKTDC will continue to enhance its mega promotion ‘Think Business, Think Hong Kong’ to strengthen its promotional efforts in Asean and mature markets. Moreover, it will actively develop digital platforms to help Hong Kong enterprises explore business opportunities and develop overseas markets. The HKTDC will also organise a number of events to introduce Hong Kong products and services to the mainland market,” Mr Chan said.

He also explained that convention and exhibition activities are crucial for developing Hong Kong’s external trade and attracting foreign investment. As at end‑January 2022, the Government has subsidised 118 convention and exhibition events under the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme launched not long after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The scheme has also provided one‑off immediate relief to organisers of 73 recurrent exhibitions in Hong Kong,” he said. “The government will actively consider attracting more event organisers to organise convention and exhibition activities in Hong Kong when the epidemic situation stabilises.”

Countering Covid-19

In addition to a range of allocations for measures to fight Covid-19 and alleviate pressure on individuals and households, Chan announced relief measures for Hong Kong businesses, especially SMEs.

Profits tax for the year of assessment 2021/22 will be cut 100% subject to a ceiling of HK$10,000. The reduction will be reflected in the final tax payable for the year of assessment 2021/22. The measure will benefit 151,000 businesses.

The government will also provide property rates concessions for non‑domestic properties for four quarters of 2022‑23, subject to a ceiling of HK$5,000 per quarter in the first two quarters and a ceiling of HK$2,000 per quarter in the remaining two quarters for each rateable property. This measure is estimated to involve 430,000 non‑domestic properties.


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