Just a few weeks after Beijing issued its blueprint for developing the “ Greater Bay Area ” into a global economic powerhouse of innovation and technology, the scale and complexity of the task loom large. Political and economic vision alone cannot overcome the potential for official inertia lurking in existing bureaucratic practices and red tape. Nowhere are these obstacles better known than in Hong Kong; local businessmen who process trade with the mainland can still attest to this. They do nothing to smooth the flows of goods and services, finance and data, and people between three different customs territories and jurisdictions. There is no time to be lost for serious talks between Hong Kong, Macau and the nine mainland regional cities that together comprise the GBA, to formulate concrete plans to advance the concept. The first effort by local business leaders to flesh out the vision, organised by the 2022 Foundation, a think tank sponsored by Victor Fung Kwok-king of the Fung Group, is welcome. The foundation commissioned a study by economists from Hong Kong, Guangdong and Europe which envisioned the GBA as a digital project, in which Hong Kong would become a big-data hub of business cooperation. The comparison with the mainland’s opening up 40 years ago, driven by labour-intensive industry, is evidence of the pace of change and the need to stay abreast of it. The report envisages linking the 11 GBA cities with business-to-business commercial data. But the sharing of business data involves regulatory obstacles in China. In that regard the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF), a multilateral mechanism for speeding up the movement and clearance of goods across different jurisdictions, provides a framework for cooperation that accommodates differences, such as the “one country, two systems” principle. There is no shortage of news of opportunities for Hong Kong in the GBA. In the latest example, a senior Chinese civil aviation official, Dong Zhiyi, hailed Hong Kong and its world-class airport as a “very important location” for both Beijing’s “ Belt and Road Initiative ” and the bay area projects. But city and regional officials have also received a wake-up call about the underuse for cargo transport of the new 55km Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge. Logistics heavyweight George Yeo, chairman of Kerry Logistics Network and a former Singapore foreign minister, says few trucks are using the bridge because the cross-border rules are not clear. This is only one example of how businesses are waiting for more detail before they respond to the State Council’s GBA. The 2022 Foundation report contains 50 recommendations for implementing the blueprint, including economic reform, cooperation, development and job creation. It could repay study by our government before it comes up with concrete measures to push ahead.