Hong Kong gold exchange to lobby harder for precious metals bourse and warehouse in Qianhai

Bourse forms a concern group to lobby for bigger presence and warehouse in the area

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2014, 3:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 February, 2014, 4:50pm

The Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange Society, which operates the precious metals exchange in Hong Kong, has set up a concern group to ramp up its lobbying efforts in the Qianhai special economic zone in Shenzhen after the central government said it would create more free-trade zones.

At the exchange's first trading session in the Year of the Horse yesterday, president Haywood Cheung Tak-hay said it expected to unveil a legal and logistics framework in the first half of this year for setting up an exchange and a metals warehouse in Qianhai.

"The establishment of a metals warehouse and a logistics route, including delivery and transportation solutions, would take about two years once we receive the go-ahead from Qianhai officials and the [China Securities Regulatory Commission]," said Cheung, who declined to specify the planned size of investment since discussions were ongoing.

The exchange's call for a bigger presence in Qianhai comes in the wake of the CSRC's plan, announced last month, to open an office there.

Qianhai, about an hour's drive from Hong Kong, was named in July 2012 as a test bed for experiments, including the easing of restrictions on flows of the yuan, and greater convertibility of foreign exchange for investment purposes.

The society has been conducting discussions with the authorities in the zone since 2012.

"Favourable policies, including tax incentives and loosening of capital controls, are within our agenda with the mainland policymakers," Cheung said.

To attract investors and talent, Qianhai will offer a corporate income tax of 15 per cent, compared with 25 per cent for the rest of the mainland and 16.5 per cent in Hong Kong. Personal income tax will be "equalised" for an effective rate of 15 per cent, similar to Hong Kong.

Members of the concern group include the city's publicly traded jewellers - Luk Fook, Chow Sang Sang and Chow Tai Fook, the world's biggest jewellery chain by market value.

Demand for a scalable precious metals exchange was obvious, with more than 4,000 jewellery manufacturers in Shenzhen, said Cheung, who urged Hong Kong officials to act more proactively in co-operating with the mainland.

In an attempt to speed up the pace of economic reform, the central government agreed in principle late last month to approve 12 free-trade zones, four months after Shanghai established the first one on the mainland.