Wither Hong Kong’s economy?

It’s hard to know what to make of the near-surreal news flowing through Hong Kong at the moment in relation to its economy. It’s as if there are people here, living in ivory towers, who cannot see what is happening on the streets and in the shopping malls while they issue policies and commentaries that have no bearing on reality.

The Hong Kong government has announced details of another round of relief measures, which include instalment plans for tax bills and direct subsidies for utilities, aimed at supporting those smaller companies whose businesses have been hit hardest by the protests. The message seems to be: don’t worry, we know times are hard, so take a bit longer to pay us what you owe, but we know you will get on your feet again, eventually, and in the meantime, don’t worry, we won’t shut off the lights and water.

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GBA Briefs: 4/12/2019

Macau tourism: Macau is expected to be the third-most visited city in the world in 2019, welcoming some 20.6 million overnight visitors, according to the report released by global market research company Euromonitor International. Read more on Macau Daily Times.

Nansha open for cruises: The Nansha Cruise Terminal started operations on November 17. It is expected to bring a surge of tourism to the district, and the region, as super-sized cruise vessels are now able to dock there. Read more in Chinese and read our previous briefing.

Jiangmen welcomes foreign talents: Jiangmen established the first “overseas talent station” in Guangdong on Tuesday. Its aim is to allow foreign talent to “deeply experience the cultural landscape and local customs of Jiangmen”. Read more in Chinese.

Zhuhai airport expansion: Construction of a second terminal at the Zhuhai International Airport started on Sunday. With a budget of nearly five billion yuan, the expansion project, due to be completed in 2023, is a major component of the western GBA’s development plans. Read more in Chinese and read our previous briefing.

Guangdong water diversion: Construction of the largest water-diversion project in Guangdong has seen 2.12 billion yuan of investment completed out of the planned 35.4 billion yuan since it began in May. The project will transfer water from Xijiang, or West River, to Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shenzhen, to address chronic water shortages. Read more in Chinese and read our previous briefing.

GBA opens wider, with social insurance

From January 1, all residents of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan who live, work or study in the mainland will be able to participate in the national social insurance scheme. Although applicable across the country, the latest measure is seen as a positive step to draw more residents from the three regions into the Guangdong part of the Greater Bay Area and facilitate the easier movement of people within the region.

The “Interim Measures” cover policies related to retirement, medical treatment, workplace injury, unemployment, and childbirth. The social insurance scheme is funded by contribitions from both workers and employers. Detailed regulations now exist for how non-mainland residents can take part in, and make use of, the various aspects of social insurance.

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Huizhou slows further

Huizhou’s economy slowed further in October, with industrial output and retail sales both down, according to the latest official data. However, fixed-asset investment is kicking in.

From January to October, industrial output grew just 2.3% YoY, 0.4 percentage points down from the year to September. The traditional staple of the electronics industry grew by just 1%.

Fixed-asset investment surged by 15.5%, accelerating in October to grow 1.7 percentage points faster than the year to September, and 11.2 percentage points faster YoY. Industrial investment rose 21.8%, 3.4 percentage points up from the year to September; infrastructure investment grew by 19.3%, 0.1 percentage points up; and real estate investment increased by 21.1%, 1.1 percentage points up.

Total retail sales grew by 8.1%, 0.1 percentage points slower than the first three quarters. Among them, wholesale, lodging and catering industries have seen faster growth while retail industry has seen slower growth at 8.5%.

Prices kept rising, with CPI jumping 2.8% from January to October, 0.1 percentage point up from the first three quarters. All categories of products listed, except traffic and telecommunication products, rose.

HK, Shenzhen to get another joint port facility

Hong Kong and Shenzhen will have a second joint border-crossing facility operational by 2002, once the Huanggang-Lok Ma Chau port is renovated, according to officials. This follows the example of the West Kowloon train station, where customs and immigration facilities from both sides are housed inside the same building.

A temporary inspection site is expected to be open by late January next year, shortly after the Lunar New Year holidays, but it will only be able to handle 30,000 daily passengers. Once the permanent facility is ready, the number will reach 200,000. At present, it handles around 80,000, and at the peak, around 100,000. 

Cargo will no longer run through this port, however, as the recently opened Liantang port to the east had eased demand for trucking facilities. The new port will have a range of other facilities, and will be part of a major project in the area designed to boost collaboration between Shenzhen and Hong Kong companies engaged in science and technology innovation.

Read more (in Chinese)

03/12 GBA Briefs

GBA talents see cross-border hurdles: Higher education institutions are generally satisfied with the cross-border flow of talents in the region, but hurdles are still there, including the incomplete qualification system of teachers and course credits, and fragmented cooperation between scientific research institutions. Read more in Chinese.

Tourists to Macau slump: The number of package tour visitors to Macau recorded a decline of 35.3% year-on-year in October, with those from Hong Kong falling by 42.5%, according to the latest official data. Read more on Macau Daily Times.

Further decline in casino revenues: The gross gaming revenue of casinos in Macau has dropped 8.5% year-on-year in November, totalling 22.88 billion patacas, according to official data. Read more on Macau News.

Macau firms in Hengqin: Macau companies invested in Hengqin grew nearly 50% this year, and now total 2,030, according to official data. Read more (in Chinese).

Macau changes explained: Macau’s new Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, held a press conference yesterday to unveil his new Cabinet appointments, at which he explained it was not easy to choose new faces, especially for the important roles of finance and culture secretaries. Read more on Macau Daily Times.

Gree stake sale: Zhuhai-based home appliance giant Gree Electric is to sell 15% if its stake to Zhuhai Mingjun Investment Partnership, a private equity firm backed by Hillhouse Capital Group, leading to a change in ownership of China’s largest air conditioner maker, according to a notice issued on Monday. The sale price was not disclosed. Read more on Caixin.

Hong Kong sweeteners: Hong Kong will soon roll out a fourth round of relief measures targeting businesses and other battered sectors, and addressing unemployment, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, in a bid to offset the 2% GDP loss due to ongoing social unrest. Read more on SCMP.

New faces in Macau cabinet

Macau’s new Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, has turned a few heads with the announcement of his cabinet. The position of Finance and Economy Secretary, which oversees the gaming industry, has been given to a relatively unknown lower-ranking official from the municipality, Lei Wai Nong. Moreover, the second-most prominent position, that of Cultural and Social Affairs Secretary, which oversees tourism, also went to a lower-ranking official, Ao Ieong U, the current director of the Identification Services Bureau.

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Foshan eases home-buying curbs

Foshan has eased its restrictive policies on home-buying. Since Friday last week, first-time home-buyers who work in Foshan and hold a bachelor degree or above, will no longer be required to submit a pile of local documents such as tax receipts, social security payment proof, etc, in order to register for buying an apartment in the city. 

In other words: anyone already employed in Foshan, with a university degree, is welcome to buy a home, anywhere in the city.

Other major cities in China are experimenting with the new policy, such as Chengdu, Shanghai, and Nanjing, but only in selected districts, not the entire city. Sanya, in Hainan, has also adopted the reform.

According to a local official quoted by media, there are “quite a few” residents who meet the new threshold, and it is expected to stimulate the market. 

Read more (in Chinese).

GBA agricultural product system set up

A system aiming to provide safe and high-quality agricultural products across the Greater Bay Area has opened. With 682 offline sales points in operation, the GBA Vegetable Basket verifies products from more than 380 suppliers in the region, according to Guangzhou’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. 

The system covers 62 categories of fruit and vegetables, 17 categories of livestock, and 10 categories of fish products and bee products. All products are required to comply with relevant national quality and safety standards, and every one must carry an official barcode that can be scanned by buyers wanting to know its origin as well as check the associated report issued by statutory third-party inspection agencies.
Read more (in Chinese):

China News


Guangzhou’s Huangpu gets serious about IP

Guangzhou’s Huangpu District has introduced a new policy seeking to stamp out intellectual property rights violations by enlisting the professional services of Hong Kong and Macau companies. And it has serious money to spend in achieving this. 

Companies engaged in IP-related services, such as institutional settlement, talent recruitment, arbitration and mediation, rights protection, and financial support for such services, could get significant subsidies. Up to 200,000 yuan will be available as start-up funds for agencies set up by residents of Hong Kong and Macau who have been actively engaged in intellectual property services for a year.

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