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Hong Kong should find its ‘unique selling point’ to capitalise on Asean opportunities, global business leaders say

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Hong Kong should find its “unique selling point” as the city strives to capitalise on new opportunities in Southeast Asia, with investors from the region looking for ways to introduce start ups to mainland China, international business leaders have said.

The International Chamber of Commerce appealed to the city’s businesses to take stock of their advantages and become “part of the story”, as the members of the organisation spoke at the Asean Summit 2023, held by the Post, on Monday.

Business leaders and policymakers discussed Hong Kong’s role in the Greater Bay Area, the wider country and among Association of Southeast Asian Nations members at the one-day forum.

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Pamela Mar Chia-ming, a managing director of the International Chamber of Commerce’s digital standards initiative, told a panel on boosting connectivity that Hong Kong should ask itself what it could do better than economies in the bloc to more effectively capitalise on opportunities.

“The question for Hong Kong is how you are going to know Asean [countries] better than, say, Singapore, which has been there all along,” she said. “It is not just because they are closer, but it is because they have actually been part of the story.

“Hong Kong is trying to wake up to the Asean opportunity given that there is such strong growth. So how are you going to be better? What is your unique selling point? What is the value that you bring?”

Some pundits have framed Singapore and Hong Kong as long-time economic rivals in the region and have suggested that the city state had taken the lead, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speakers on the panel said Hong Kong should revisit its “inbuilt advantages” in terms of trading logistics and try to cultivate expertise in sustainable financing and physical infrastructure.

Patrick Ip, managing director of China-Asean Investment Cooperation Fund, speaks at the Asean Summit 2023. Photo: May Tse

Patrick Ip Ka-keung, the managing director of the China-Asean Investment Cooperation Fund, said Hong Kong could act as a gateway for exchanges between start-up companies on the mainland and in Southeast Asia.

“There are some start-ups in Southeast Asia that come here as well,” he noted.

“Not only can they connect with those, I would say, a bit more sophisticated types of start-ups from China, but they can also go to the Greater Bay Area to connect with a bigger picture and bring something back to Southeast Asia.”

The bay area refers to Beijing’s initiative to integrate Hong Kong, Macau and nine mainland cities into an economic powerhouse.

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The commercial connectivity panel also included Audrey Cheong, vice-president of FedEx overseeing Southeast Asia operations, and Jayant Menon, a senior fellow of economics at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

During the discussion, Cheong called for more companies to set up shop in Southeast Asia as Menon said he hoped the region would remain open in the face of rising protectionism.

Article was originally published from here

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