HK, Magnet to Foreign Regional Operations

Despite the gloom of world economic prospects, Hong Kong, with its favorable geographic location and sound infrastructures, is still a magnet to foreign companies which want to gain a stronghold in the fast growing Asian markets.

As at June 2001, there were a total of 3,237 regional operations set up in Hong Kong by foreign-owned companies, representing a 7.9 percent over 2000 and also hitting an all time high, according to the 2001 annual survey released Tuesday by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department.

The total number of regional headquarters in 2001 rose from 855 in 2000 to 944, an increase of 10.4 percent, and the highest ever. The previous record was set in 1997, when the number of foreign regional headquarters reached 903.

Meanwhile, the total number of regional offices in Hong Kong rose by 6.8 percent, from 2 146 in 2000 to 2,293 in 2001, another all-time high figure.

"More and more multinational corporations (MNCs) are flocking to set up beachheads in Hong Kong, taking advantage of the territory's competitive advantages over other Asian cities, in particular, as a gateway to China," Director-General of Invest Hong Kong Mike Rowse said.

The rise in the number of foreign regional operations shows Hong Kong is again topping the charts as the preferred hub and living up to its role as Asia's world city, Rowse said.

"With China's accession to WTO, Hong Kong's status as the preferred location for regional headquarters for multinationals will be strengthened further," he said.

Statistics show that the United States has the largest number of regional headquarters in Hong Kong with a total of 221 companies, followed by Japan with 160 companies, and the United Kingdom with 90 companies.

The major lines of business of these regional headquarters were wholesale, retail and trade-related services and financial services. Other major lines of business included business and professional services and manufacturing of electronic goods.

"Hong Kong is the best communications bridge between the East and the West in the region," said Gavin Wu, vice president of Logitech Asia which is a world leading mouce manufacturer recently opened its regional headquarters in Hong Kong.

Wu said his company will make use of Hong Kong's competitive advantages in information gathering, telecommunications network, marketing expertise and transportation advancement to expand the company's business in Asia.

AXA Group, the French-based world insurance giant, also set up its regional headquarters in Hong Kong earlier this month to tap into the lucrative Asian insurance markets.

Regional Chief Executive of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd Mark Pearson said his company saw tremendous business opportunities in the Asian region, and "has full confidence in Hong Kong as a gateway to both China's mainland and the Asian markets and as an international hub for financial services."

People's Daily Online ---