Hong Kong Economic and Trade Centre Dubai
Hong Kong has an eye on the bigger investment picture with the opening of the Economic Trade Office in DIFC. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Hong Kong has opened its first Economic Trade Office in the Middle East at Dubai International Financial Centre on the back of increased trade and economic deals with the UAE.

The UAE was also one of the first to sign up for China’s massive ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, which is a new trade route spanning continents.

We certainly have much to offer, with both the UAE and Hong Kong serving as international business hubs in our respective regions.

- Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Reporting: Nivetha Dayanand Video credits: Virendra Saklani Edited: Irish Eden R. Belleza Gulf News

The new base in Dubai targets UAE based businesses and investors to explore opportunities in Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area, and throughout the mainland and the Asian region. Talking about Dubai being Hong Kong’s first choice, the Director-General of the Dubai ETO, Damian Lee, said that last year, the total merchandise trade between Hong Kong and all the six GCC countries amounted to $13 billion. Of that 70 per cent - $9.7 billion - was with the UAE. “By establishing the office in the commercial capital of the UAE, we’ll be doing a lot to enhance ties between Hong Kong and all the six GCC countries,” he said.

Direct link to China

In recent years, the comprehensive partnership between UAE-China has been deepening across the board. Apart from being Hong Kong’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and 16th largest trading partner in 2020, the UAE is also the largest export market and the second-largest trading partner of China in the Arab world.

“UAE and Hong Kong directly are having a trade worth $9 billion making Hong Kong as the Top 10 global trade partner with the UAE,” said Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade. “Apart from financial services, we can capitalise on the strengths of general logistics, transportations and go on to trade the bigger market in both the region.”

Talking about upgrading trade or economic treaties with the UAE, Lee said Carrie Lam had announced in her federal policy address that the possibility of free trade agreements and investment agreements between both countries would be considered. “On approval, these agreements would bring a lot of enhancement of trade and commerce links between Hong Kong and the GCC countries.”

Options will be key

As one of the major financial hubs, there is always demand for Hong Kong based financial services. “Government officials, chambers, and free zones are very keen to promote and to develop the startup ecosystem in Hong Kong or the UAE,” the official added.

Promising incentives

Lee said: “We have very low tax rates. Our tax regime is very simple. Coupled with the fact that Hong Kong is just not Hong Kong, we are a gateway to mainland China. We are also a big market for Southeast Asian countries. So anyone doing business in Hong Kong would be finding Hong Kong such a great place of opportunities.”

Lee encouraged local business communities to tap into the UAE’s booming markets in fintech, blockchain technology, health care, medical tourism and pegging it to the opening of the Economic and Trade Office in Dubai.