Association has strategic role in mainland's future
The Hong Kong Management Association will have an important role in China's development in the next five to 10 years, chairman David Li said.
In his message to celebrate HKMA's 40th anniversary, Mr Li said the SAR, being highly experienced in dealing with the free market, could help China face world market competition.
'We can help the mainland to leapfrog into the free market,' said Mr Li, who is also chairman and chief executive of the Bank of East Asia.
And when China enters the World Trade Organisation, its services sector will generate abundant investment opportunities for Hong Kong companies, ranging from financial and telecommunications to retail, he said.
Hong Kong people who share a common language and culture with China will be able to take up the role as they are enterprising and market-oriented.
More importantly, it will provide Hong Kong companies the opportunity to establish or consolidate their place in the mainland's service markets.
The expertise and experience of Hong Kong firms will be much sought after by both Chinese and foreign enterprises.
Mr Li said the gradual opening of China will inevitably increase competition from other global players, and Hong Kong's interme diary role in many areas may be eroded.
'For Hong Kong to secure its competitive advantages, it should strengthen its role as a strategic partner in providing value-added services for both mainland counterparts and international trading partners,' he said.
Recalling his involvement with the association soon after returning from studies in Britain in 1969, Mr Li said he taught marketing and IT courses at the association.
He and many other lecturers donated their professional fees to the association so it could train Hong Kong executives and achieve higher standards.
Mr Li, who has been involved with the association for 31 years, said that although Shanghai will become a leading financial centre one day, it will not overtake Hong Kong soon for several reasons. The yuan, for one, is not yet convertible.
Hong Kong has a head start in building itself as a financial hub over the next five to 10 years, but much depends on how the SAR will position itself in the near future.
Mr Li said that while Shanghai may one day overtake Hong Kong, the SAR will still be an important financial centre for southern China.
'While Shanghai might become the equivalent of New York, Hong Kong could well be the equivalent of Chicago in the United States,' Mr Li said.
In the meantime, Hong Kong can help China while taking advantage of business opportunities in the mainland. Hong Kong has six million population, compared to the mainland's 1.2 billion. China has not just one market but several markets - in the north, south, east and west, as it is a vast country.
As opportunities in China emerge, the HKMA could help the mainland by assist executives in upgrading their qualifications, Mr Li said.
Considering that many people cannot enter universities, they can at least continue their education at a community college and acquire a certificate or a specialised skill.
HKMA helps students excel in the subjects of their choice, thus developing more talents that enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness.
HKMA, which is self-funded, competes with other bodies like the Government's Vocational Training Council and universities to provide management courses to Hong Kong executives.
Despite the strong competition, the association is continually expanding its quality of services.
Mr Li, who is one of the association's longest serving chairmen (with more than 10 years of service behind him), said he was proud of his colleagues who were mainly responsible for the association's success.
'I am most impressed by my colleagues' dedication and devotion. They volunteer to help executives improve their qualifications,' he said.
He added that their contribution and leadership in the association was impressive.