Hong Kong and Kazakhstan Strengthen Ties under The Belt and Road Initiative
High-level Hong Kong delegation visits Almaty, Astana
Riding on business opportunities being created by the Belt and Road Initiative, Hong Kong’s first high-level official delegation to Central Asia is visiting Kazakhstan to promote closer trade and investment ties. Organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the 13-16 September mission is led by Financial Secretary John Tsang and involves meetings with Kazakh government and business leaders in Astana and Almaty.
In the Kazakh capital, Kairat Kelimbetov, Governor of the Astana International Financial Centre officiated at a Wednesday (14 September) business luncheon which attracted more than 210 leading members of the Kazakhstan business community.
Memorandum of understanding on bilateral relations
A highlight of the trip was a Memorandum of Understanding signed Wednesday by the HKTDC and Astana International Financial Centre. Under the agreement, the HKTDC will promote investment projects in Kazakhstan through its Belt and Road Portal, and both organisations will support future delegations to Hong Kong and Kazakhstan respectively.
Financial Secretary Mr Tsang also witnessed a framework agreement between KZT Express, a transport and logistics subsidiary of Kazakhstan’s national railway, and Hong Kong-registered Kazakhstan Potash Corporation (KPC). The deal calls for the two companies to establish and develop cooperation on international transportation and logistics.
Hong Kong-Kazakhstan collaboration
Noting that Kazakhstan is Central Asia’s largest economy with ample natural resources, Mr Tsang outlined Hong Kong’s unique advantages including its “one country, two systems” formula as a Special Administrative Region of China, as well as the city’s international experience and networks in finance, investment, trade and logistics.
He also said Kazakh investors and businesses can make good use of Hong Kong’s advanced infrastructure and professional services to find opportunities on the Chinese mainland as well as in global markets.
Belt and Road opportunities
Also speaking at the Hong Kong Business Luncheon in Astana, HKTDC Assistant Executive Director Stephen Liang elaborated on the event’s theme: “Exploring Business Opportunities between Hong Kong and Kazakhstan under the Belt and Road Initiative.”
Mr Liang said the Initiative provides a clear impetus for Hong Kong-Kazakhstan collaboration to grow, and the HKTDC stands ready to support companies from Kazakhstan and around the world to access Belt and Road opportunities using Hong Kong’s wide range of services including legal, financial, transport, infrastructure and real estate services.
He added that the HKTDC can help by “informing, connecting and facilitating” through the Council’s full range of services and events including more than 30 world-class international trade fairs and conferences as well as business matching and investment missions. Mr Liang invited Kazakh enterprises to join the next Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong on 11 September 2017, as well as to visit the HKTDC’s Belt and Road Portal where Kazakhstan businesses can find news about Belt and Road-related projects and connect with potential partners and investors.
The mission was also an opportunity to underscore how Kazakh companies are already tapping into Hong Kong’s business advantages. Companies such as KAZ Minerals and KTZ Express are already either listed in Hong Kong or have opened Hong Kong offices. In recent years, there are also an increasing number of buyers and exhibitors from Kazakhstan coming to Hong Kong trade events.
Rising star in Central Asia
Mr Kelimbetov welcomed Hong Kong business people to explore new opportunities in Kazakhstan. “To encourage business growth and attract foreign investment, we have adopted a number of measures such as simplified procedures and tax incentives,” he said.
In addition to WTO accession, Kazakhstan is a founding member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and is a potential access point to the 290 million-strong CIS market which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The country has set up 10 special economic zones (SEZs), including the US$3.5 billion Khorgas-East Gate SEZ near its border with China.
Among the more than 30 Hong Kong delegates on the trip are senior executives from regulatory agencies as well from leading multinational corporations in finance, infrastructure and real estate, technology, telecommunications, legal, logistics and natural resources sectors.
The mission includes Chairman of Hong Kong’s Financial Services Development Council Laura Cha, Chairman of ATF Bank Anthony Espina, Technical Director of Octopus Holdings Limited Sammy Kam and Non-executive Chairman of MTR Corporation Frederick Ma. Representatives from Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Limited, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and PCCW Global Limited are also part of the delegation.
During the four-day visit, the Hong Kong group will meet Kazakh officials and executives of leading enterprises, as well as see public transportation systems, logistics and industrial park facilities, a mixed-use development project and attend briefings by financial institutions.
The group will depart Astana for Almaty today, where a second Hong Kong Business Luncheon will be held at the InterContinental Almaty Hotel on Friday (16 September).
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The HKTDC is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and services providers. With more than 40 offices globally, including 13 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and throughout Asia. The HKTDC also organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to provide companies, particularly SMEs, with business opportunities on the mainland and in overseas markets, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and digital channels including the media room.