By Daniel Hunter
Boris Johnson's recent visit to Hong Kong highlighted wider opportunities for UK-Hong Kong collaboration in the urban development, infrastructure and transport sectors.
Previous visits by the Lord Mayor of London and Financial Secretary to the Treasury highlighted the continuing strengths of the Financial Services sector to both London and Hong Kong. They also looked at opportunities around RMB internationalisation and maritime services. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson's visit highlighted the wider opportunities for UK business in Hong Kong.
Opportunities in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is determined to diversify and compete both regionally and internationally. The Mayor saw some of these infrastructure opportunities at first hand as well as two large High Value Opportunities (HVOs).
Major opportunities include:
- addition of third airport runway by 2020 — a £11bn opportunity for UK business
- implementation of the 2020 vision of expanding rail network into the Pearl River Delta — the system currently carries 4.3 million passengers a day
- £1.7bn West Kowloon Cultural District HVO project entails constructing 17 performance venues - more about West Kowloon HVO
- East Kowloon HVO regeneration projects on the former Kai Tak airport site - includes new cruise terminal designed by Fosters and £2bn multi-purpose sports complex - more about Kai Tak HVO
Synergies between London and Hong Kong
During Boris Johnson's visit the Hong Kong Chief Executive C Y Leung described Hong Kong's function as a "transformer adaptor" into and out of China: enabling foreign companies to plug into opportunities, and Chinese companies into global ones, effecting simultaneously the necessary conversion in terms of financial, regulatory and even cultural framework.
As free trade, open-market cities, the similarities between Hong Kong and London are striking:
- similar populations
- 40% green space with associated housing
- city planning and transport pressure (though little agonising in Hong Kong about a (reclaimed) third runway and high-speed rail to the mainland)
- London is king of European Headquarters (HQs), Hong Kong has 3800 regional and over 1000 global HQs (with many the connectors to Mainland China)
- Both are dynamic, vibrant and innovative cities
During his visit The Mayor sought to encourage the trade and investment symbiosis across urban development, infrastructure and transport sectors between the UK’s capital London and Hong Kong.
He met with some of Hong Kong’s and the mainland’s largest developers. With a collective war chest of £500 billion this group could comfortably finance the next decade of London development. Lively discussion exposed healthy competition and interest in a range of mixed use and regeneration projects.
UKTI Hong Kong will continue to work with the Mayor’s office. This will develop the dialogue with investors such as Hutchison Whampoa on London mega infrastructure opportunities, from housing, tunnels to waste management.
The Mayor’s visit generated enormous media coverage. Interest was sparked across different sectors and demographics - from investors and key intermediaries to the broader public.
This included a legion of bus spotters watching out for the GREAT branded London bus. Bus designer Thomas Heatherwick was part of the high powered business delegation. This helped to showcase UK strengths in advanced engineering and design, teeing up our GREAT Festival in March 2014.
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