Half a century ago overseas visitors to Hong Kong could take trips to ridges in the northern New Territories, where they would stand and look across the hazy forested hills into the mystery territory of Guangdong.
Since then, the opening up and reforms in Mainland China, as well as the return of Hong Kong, have removed the mystery and in healthy times hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world stream across the border daily. For many overseas businesses, however, elements of the mystery remain. Setting up in the mainland can present a daunting task, taking into account differences in the regulatory, legal, cultural and linguistic environment.
Noting the problem, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is literally putting the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) in the palm of prospective investors’ and traders’ hands through an app.
The HKTDC on Thursday launched the GoGBA one-stop platform, a business-support programme that helps companies access the GBA. See the launch event here. Comprising digital information and business tools, advisory services and training as well as promotional and networking activities, the GoGBA one-stop platform offers multi-faceted business support online and offline.
At the launch event, which was on a virtual link between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and Qin Weizhong, Deputy Secretary of Shenzhen Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China and Mayor of Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, officially launched the GoGBA WeChat mini programme – a digital information and business tool – and the HKTDC GBA Centre located at the HKTDC’s Shenzhen office. Several memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were also signed with the Leading Group Office of Guangdong on Construction of Guangdong-Hongkong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Shenzhen Municipal Committee, the People’s Government of Shenzhen Futian District and five cities and districts in the GBA (Qianhai in Shenzhen, Nansha in Guangzhou, Hengqin in Zhuhai, Dongguan and Zhongshan), to expand the network of support for Hong Kong companies. After the ceremony, two webinars were held where companies that are already operating successfully in the GBA shared their business insights on how to succeed in the region.
Dr Peter K N Lam, Chairman of the HKTDC, said: “The GBA offers huge opportunities for businesses from Hong Kong and around the world. Our GoGBA WeChat mini programme is a useful digital tool to complement our physical support centres in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and other parts of the GBA through our partners. As more and more businesses look for prospects in the GBA, the HKTDC is here to help.”
In line with Ms Lam’s 2020 policy address, the GoGBA one-stop platform aims to help Hong Kong small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) tap into the GBA with three major support components, he said.
Firstly, as a digital tool for cross-border business, the GoGBA digital platform, which consists of the GoGBA WeChat mini programme digital messaging platform, runs in collaboration with the government offices of Guangdong province and municipal governments in the GBA, providing important information on the region including updates on policies and subsidies, listings of related business and trade organisations, regional guides, and information on GBA government services and applications. It also offers practical tools such as weather forecasts, cross-border transportation information, interactive maps, details of public services, and income tax reminders. Readers can scan this WeChat QR code to download the GoGBA digital platform.
Secondly, the programme offers advisory services and training, with the HKTDC’s Shenzhen office having set up the HKTDC GBA Centre to strengthen its support to SMEs interested in exploring the GBA market. Together with the HKTDC SME Centre in Hong Kong, the centres will organise a series of seminars and workshops, sharing sessions and advisory activities in group or individual formats, equipping companies with the practical knowledge and skillsets needed to succeed in the GBA.
The MoUs signed today will see the introduction of GoGBA Business Support Centres in Shenzhen (Qianhai), Guangzhou (Nansha), Zhuhai (Hengqin), Dongguan and Zhongshan, Dr Lam said. The HKTDC plans to introduce the centres in all nine mainland GBA cities, establishing a comprehensive support network that can connect companies with partners and consultants from across the GBA. In addition, the HKTDC’s T-box (Transformation Sandbox) SME support programme will extend its services from Hong Kong to Shenzhen and other cities in the GBA. Together with the Digital Academy and E-Tailing Academy, the HKTDC will provide advisory workshops related to e-commerce and digital business as well as marketing solutions and other digital platforms.
HKTDC online and offline activities
Thirdly, the HKTDC has utilised various digital technologies to organise exhibitions and conferences, and will continue to plan and organise business missions and networking events through the “digital and physical” format for major events and activities. It will also continue to enhance the hktdc.com Sourcing platform. The "Guangdong-Hong Kong Co-operation Week" will be held with the People’s Government of Guangdong Province in December to promote Hong Kong products and services through flagship promotional events – SmartHK in Guangzhou and ChicHK in Shenzhen.
“The HKTDC will continue outreach efforts to help Hong Kong and overseas companies, and enterprises from other GBA cities, to establish connections, providing business matching sessions and advice on seeking business opportunities,” Dr Lam said. “The Council is currently planning to organise a wide range of activities in the mainland, including exhibitions and conferences, to help Hong Kong enterprises promote their products and services, explore business opportunities in GBA cities and gain practical experience at the same time.”
Keys to success
Representatives from Hong Kong and overseas companies gathered at the launch shared their success stories in capturing opportunities in mainland GBA cities through Hong Kong. Sharing their experiences in two separate sessions were Yan Lau, General Manager of Dongguan Dailywin Watch; Tommy Cheng, Founder and CEO of MY Super eCommerce Company; Jason Choi, Founder of DimYeah Studio & EGGY; Dawn Chui, General Manager – Pacific Rim of ORCA Asia; Joe Wan, CEO of Tricor Hong Kong; and Jeffrey Hironaka Santo, Managing Director for Asia of Mundial.
Canadian company ORCA specialises in technology solutions for food-waste treatment. Dawn Chui, General Manager – Pacific Rim of ORCA, said the pandemic has accelerated awareness of the need for food-waste treatment in Hong Kong, and many hotels, campuses and restaurants are interested in their solutions. She said the company is optimistic about the mainland market. “The National 14th Five-Year Plan mentioned the issue of food waste management so we see great potential in venturing into this market. Hong Kong is the perfect springboard to Mainland China, with its free flow of capital very beneficial to corporate finance and one of the factors that encouraged us to establish a Hong Kong branch.”
Yan Lau, General Manager of Dongguan Dailywin Watch, said the company set up its factory in Dongguan in the 1980s. Now, its Hong Kong headquarters is responsible for import, export, accounting and auditing functions, while design, manufacturing and sales are carried out in Dongguan. Mr Lau said the company has put a big effort into building its own brand and last year launched the SAGA Moon Mars series to celebrate the achievements of the mainland’s aerospace industry along with Dailywin’s own achievements. During the pandemic, the company has shifted the focus to its online business and domestic sales, adopting new strategies such as e-commerce livestreaming with influencers and deploying new e-commerce and social e-commerce retail models. These new strategies have proved beneficial in helping the company’s expansion in the mainland market.