Greater Bay Area
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Shenzhen is one of 11 cities in the Greater Bay Area, and the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong believes it has stolen a march on rivals in the development zone. Photo: Roy Issa

British industry in Hong Kong quickest off the mark to launch business network in Greater Bay Area, which aims to rival Silicon Valley, with peers from Macau, Guangdong and other parts of China

  • Business link-up plan is believed to be first of its type launching in the huge southern China development zone, which covers US$1.5 trillion economy
  • British Chamber of Commerce says the trade drive would be happening even without Brexit

British business associations have formed an international network in the Greater Bay Area to maximise the opportunities arising from the national development plan to integrate Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities to rival Silicon Valley.

The platform, which appeared to be the first among major Western countries in the development zone, was announced by the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

The chamber said in a statement that they, together with the chambers in Guangdong and Macau, the China-Britain Business Council, and the Confederation of British Industry Beijing Office, held a meeting in Shenzhen and agreed to form an inter-organisation working group on the GBA initiative.

“The GBA Initiative is a major opportunity for Hong Kong, our Chamber, and our members,” Peter Burnett, chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said.

“By connecting further with our colleagues in the mainland and Macau we will develop a deeper understanding of the opportunities that the GBA presents for our member companies and the business community at large.”

Andrew Seaton, the executive director of the chamber, told the Post he believed they have been the first to set up an international network across the bay area, saying: “I think we moved very quickly on this and that reflected the deep interest among British Chamber’s members of companies here in Hong Kong.”

Opportunities in fields including construction, engineering, financial services, transport and health care would be ahead for British companies in the city, Seaton said.

Andrew Seaton, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, believes there will be massive opportunities for businesses in the Greater Bay Area. Photo: Dickson Lee

Seaton laughed when asked if the chamber had put more importance on the GBA under the backdrop of Brexit, which has cast uncertainties over the British economy, adding Southeast Asia towards China was the region companies have to look into, even leaving the Brexit element to one side.

“The GBA is a new element, though we don’t have lots of details yet. People are optimistic about the prospect [of the GBA] and they are interested,” he said.

An advertisement for the Greater Bay Area project displayed at MTR station in Causeway Bay. Photo: Fung Chang

Earlier this year, Chinese leaders issued a blueprint on transforming the bay area into a world class urban cluster, and an innovation and technology powerhouse rivalling Silicon Valley by 2035.

The economic zone has a combined population of about 70 million and total GDP of around US$1.5 trillion.

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It received a mixed reaction in Hong Kong as critics, including pan-democrats, were worried the city’s autonomy would be undermined in the mega-plan.

Looking ahead, the British Chamber said the group will work together to develop policy recommendations to governments and regulators across the region, as well as working with the British government to help member companies access business opportunities in the area.

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Seaton said they have to sit down and discuss the plans and format of the collaboration in detail, including whether a regular meeting would be held between the groups.

The chamber in Hong Kong has over 1,000 members while the one in Guangdong has over 200.

The European Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce both said they do not have similar plans at the moment, while the American Chamber of Commerce has not responded to the Post’s inquiries.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: British business groups unite to cash in on bay area