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Indian companies looking to secure a foothold in the East Asian marketplace and as a springboard to mainland China have great potential by routing their investments and projects through Hong Kong, senior government officials said.
In recent years Indian companies have become increasingly prominent in many other sectors including shipping, finance, information technology and management. “Indian companies can look at sectors like transport, gem and jewellery, shipping and information technology to boost their businesses,” said Jimmy Chiang, Associate Director General, Invest HK, the government body facilitating investment in the international finance centre.
A senior official of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange told The Indian Express that some Indian companies are likely to list their companies on the exchange, which is the world’s largest IPO market where global companies raised $33.94 billion in 2015. Currently there are 1,500 Indian companies operating in Hong Kong in various sectors.
“Seven new Indian companies were registered in HK last year. This year also we expect more Indian companies,” Chiang said. “Indian companies need to pay only 5 per cent withholding tax for their businesses in China if they are routed through Hong Kong. Otherwise there’s 10 per cent tax.”
According to Raymond Yip, Deputy Executive Director, HK Trade Development Council, Indian businesses “should look East” to boost their operations. “Traditionally companies were looking at West, especially the US and Europe. Now it’s time to target the East. East Asia has the potential to act as a platform to expand their business,” Yip said.
On the delay in accelerating business ties between India and HK, Yip said, “there wasn’t enough understanding” between the two sides. “There’s a need to step up exchange and a change of mindset,” he said.
India was the largest export market for Hong Kong with exports of $13.1 billion in 2015, a rise of 8.1 per cent. Hong Kong’s imports from India contracted 13.6 per cent to $10.6 billion.
Yip said there were 12 Indian companies with regional headquarters, 15 with regional offices and 37 local offices in Hong Kong. Yip and Chiang said a double taxation treaty between Hong Kong and India will accelerate trade between the two countries. “We’re hopeful of a treaty in the near future,” Chiang said. Raj Sital, Chairman of the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said Hong Kong is the super-connector bringing together the rest of China and the world that includes India.”It’s ideal in many ways to manage global business and the ideal gateway to reach the growing mainland China market,” Sital said.Indicating the growing trade ties, close to 180 Indian companies participated in the Houseware and home furnishing fair in Hong Kong from April 20-23.
Yip said Mumbai has the potential to emerge as an international financial centre (IFC) on the lines of Hong Kong. “Why centres like London or New York are financial centres? This is because the players want to be there. Why they want to be there?
It’s business… the potential to do business,” he said.