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Hong Kong Woos French Business

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

14 November 2006

French investors attending a major investment promotion event last week were encouraged to invest in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and Guangdong Province.

The seminar 'Hong Kong and Guangdong Business Conference in Paris 2006,' was hosted by the governments of the SAR and Guangdong Province and was said to have received an "overwhelming response" from the French business community.

More than 2,000 senior executives from 1,500 French companies attended and a particularly strong interest was shown in the Greater Pearl River Delta (GPRD) region, consisting of Guangdong Province’s Pearl River Delta Economic Development Zone and the Hong Kong and Macao SARs. The GPRD region is one of the fastest growing areas in China.

Hong Kong and Guangdong are keen to stress their complementary strengths. While Guangdong Province is strong in manufacturing and provides a wide range of products and services, Hong Kong is noted for its trade and logistics support, capital, legal and business services, and international expertise.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang told the French investors: "Hong Kong is a starting point that offers a transparent and familiar business environment, and a legal system that is independent and impartial. A starting point that speaks English – with a good smattering of French as well. A starting point that has a communications and transport infrastructure second to none in Asia, a low and simple tax system, a corruption-free government, a business-friendly environment and no exchange controls.”

“But perhaps most important, Hong Kong is a starting point full of companies that have the know-how, contacts and experience to give you a head start in China."

Tsang also extolled the virtues of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between Hong Kong and China, a free trade pact under which all Hong Kong goods can be exported duty-free to the Mainland, and Hong Kong companies in 27 services sectors have "early-bird access" to the Mainland market, ahead of China’s WTO obligations.

"European companies can take advantage of CEPA by setting up in Hong Kong or partnering with Hong Kong companies," he noted.

According to Mike Rowse, Director-General of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong, the SAR's investment promotion agency, France has long been an important strategic partner for Hong Kong economically, with cumulative investment amounting to US$2.2 billion by the end of 2004.

There are more than 570 French companies in Hong Kong, including over 170 regional headquarters and offices.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series looking at Tax-Effective Global Manufacturing and Financing Structures is available in the Lowtax Library at and a description of the report can be seen at

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