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Business

Financial Secretary Vows Support for Start-ups

  • 2016-02-24

In his budget speech today, Tsang said the government will set up a $2 billion Innovation and Technology Venture Fund to co-invest with private venture capital funds on a matching basis in local technology start-ups.   The Science Park will expand in stages to provide additional floor area of 70 000 square metres for start-ups and other technology companies by 2020, with the project estimate amounting to $4.4 billion to be borne jointly by Government and HKSTPC; and the Cyberport will earmark $200 million to invest in its start-ups.  HKSTPC will continue to support start-ups through its Corporate Venture Fund and incubation programmes.   As for fashion and design, Tsang vowed to strengthen the promotion of local fashion designers and emerging fashion brands in Hong Kong and overseas by establishing an incubation programme for fashion designers and setting up a resource centre for young designers.   Tsang will also launch the third phase of Design Incubation Programme and increase the admission quota to 90 design start-ups. Ten emerging local fashion brands will be subsidised to participate in the Paris Fashion Week, while the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) will organise fashion shows for Hong Kong designers in the New York Fashion Week. HKTDC will also host an annual international fashion trade fair, fashion shows and forums for Hong Kong and Asian brands.   Locally-produced Cantonese film is highlighted in Tsang's speech. An additional $20 million will be injected into the FDF(Film Development Fund) to subsidise the expenses incurred by locally-produced Cantonese films for distribution and publicity conducted in the Mainland. The funding is proposed to be doubled from the current $250,000 to $500,000 per film.   In the art and sports field, the Art Development Matching Grants Pilot Scheme will be launched this year to help the more established …

Business

$140 million worth of Financial Aid for Tourism Industry

  • 2016-02-24

  Mr. John Tsang Chun-Wah addressed financial aid towards tourism industry. He attributed a weakening external economy, devaluation of neighbouring currencies, relaxation of visa requirements of mainlanders along with the "one trip per week measure" as the obstacles. He also mentioned about recent civil unrest in Hong Kong to be a deterring factor for tourists.   In light of this, he proposed several policies to alleviate the situation. Including waiving licence fees: He proposed waving licence fees for 1800 travel agents, 2000 hotels, guesthouses restaurants, restaurants and hawkers for a year, adding up to $140 million in operational costs for these measures.   The financial secretary also proposed improvements in several tourist attractions.The scale of major events would be expanded, such as the Formula E Championship , the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival, Rugby 7s etc.   Mr. Tsang also said the Hong Kong Tourism board would open up new visitor sources implementation of matching fund for promoting tourist attractions, shopping and spending, a promotion about MICE(Meetings, Incentive travels, Conventions and Exhibitions) tourism  and fly-cruise" tours would be implemented. Local traders' participation fees for overseas promotion fairs would be waived as well.     He also said the Travel Industry Council would subsidize small and medium-sized travel agents on a matching basis, to incorporate information technology.   Mr. Tsang said that the government would reinforce promotion on Hong Kong's natural scenery and the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail "Art across Time", PMQ, and the former Central Police Station Compound which will open this year.   In the long term, he said several new attractions will open in the future, including a new hotel in 2016 and a Iron Man-themed area in Hong Kong Disneyland in 2017, a new hotel in Ocean Park in 2017, and a new water park …

Business

The 2016-17 Budget - Overview

  • 2016-02-24

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced the 2016-17 Budget at Legislative Council this morning. He started by saying that Hong Kong has secured decent economic growth, maintained low unemployment, and managed healthy public finances. "Acute social conflicts will add uncertainties to the already adverse economic environment," he said. He anticipated that political dispute would intensify over the coming months because of the Legislative Council (LegCo) By-election and General Election. Asian region's export performance was worsened by the global economic setback in 2015. The Hong Kong's overall economic performance in 2015 dropped. Hong Kong's exports of goods fell 1.7 per cent, which recorded the first annual decline since 2009. Exports of service also declined 0.6 per cent, the first annual decline since 1998. Both local tourism and retail sales were in a weak condition in 2015. Visitors arrivals dropped 2.5 per cent for a year and retail sales was also recorded the first decrease since 2009. There was a decline in the value of total exports of goods and the number of visitor arrivals in Hong Kong since mid-2015, and he forecasted a more severe fall will happen in 2016. The GDP growth in real terms at one to two per cent in 2016, lower than last year's growth. The headline inflation rate for 2016 will be 2.3 per cent and the underlying inflation rate at two per cent.  

Business

Going Organic

  • 2016-01-29

  by Janet Sun Organic fruit and vegetables are supposed to be pesticide free and have higher nutritional values. However, consuming these products is not popular in Hong Kong. According to the report of Hong Kong Organic Research Centre, licensed organic food only makes up five per cent of all vegetables in local wet markets in 2014. Some local farmers are now setting up shop in urban Hong Kong, making it easier for health conscious shoppers to get their hands on fresh and safe produce. At the farmers' market at Star Ferry Central Pier Seven every Sunday, local farmers offer all kinds of organic certified fruit and vegetables. The market is organized by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden. They signed an agreement with Star Ferry Company to use the venue. The farmers benefit from the low cost rent and can, therefore sell their products at affordable prices. "The farmers pay $200 per month for a booth, " said Queenie Shum, spokeswoman for Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden. Kadoorie provides shelter, tables and chairs and the farmers share the cost of transport. "The farmers would club together to rent a van to bring their vegetables from the New Territories," Ms Shum said. The organisers check that the produce is organic certified when the farmers apply to join the market. They have been doing so since 2007 as a way of promoting local farms. "We support locally grown crop and provide a platform for the public to get in touch with local farmers," said Ms Shum. Wong Kim-so started working on his farm in Yuen Long after retirement. He said the advantage of the farmers market in Central Pier is that lots of shoppers walk through the area. That helps to promote and introduce local organic produce to city dwellers. "Also, the farmers' market here in Central would not be affected by the weather, unlike some unsheltered markets," said Mr Wong. Mr. Wong often gets together with three or four farmers to book a van to come to Central from Yuen Long. Although it costs him $300 every …

Politics

Taiwan's IT Industry Hopes a New Government Can Revitalise Their Business

  • 2016-01-19

  by Crystal Tai Taiwan goes to the polls tomorrow to elect the island's 14th president, but a Top 2000 CEO Survey done by CommonWealth Magazine in December, 2015 found that 20.8% of the executives think that none of political parties can lead Taiwan out of its economic turmoil. Only 11.4% of the CEOs interviewed were confident that Tsai Ing-wen, the predicted winner, has the ability to overturn a sluggish economy Chen Kwan-Ming, founder of Westudent, a headhunter company believes the answer lies in investment in the IT industry. "The previous generations have the capital in hand but the only knowledge they have of IT is how to fiddle with smartphones," he said. He wants the government to provide IT education for the older generations so they can benefit from startup companies. International Data Corp, a market information advisory firm predicts that over 30% of Taiwan's firms would conduct transactions through virtual platforms in 2016. But Yvette Lin Wan Ching, CEO of Sudo said government policies in Taiwan and the business environment on the island lag behind mainland China and the U.S. "Eighty percent of Taiwan's GDP is comprised of income from production. The government fails to comply with global trends to let tech industry take over," said Ms Lin. Tsai Ing-wen has promised better opportunities for entrepreneurs in Taiwan by removing red tapes for startups and renew innovation in Taiwan. When asked whether she favored which presidential candidate, Yvette said anyone would do as long as voters chose the right talents to develop the tech sector. "I do not have a particular preference as long as the party is encouraging and tolerant towards startups," Ms Lin said.

Business

E-Recycling brings full circle to waste management

  • 2016-01-09

  by Sharon Shi After working on waste disposal projects in Hong Kong for 20 years, Nigel Mattravers left the city in 2000. Back then, plastic bags were handed out freely at local supermarkets. Coming back three months ago, the waste manager has witnessed the changes in people's behaviour in their use of plastic. Amazed by the transformation , Mr Mattravers, general manager at Alba Integrated Waste Solutions, is convinced that Hong Kong's response to electronic waste recycling will be just as positive. Alba Integrated Waste Solutions Hong Kong, a joint-venture subsidiary of the Alba Group, plans to spend two years on building and another ten years operating an e-waste recycling system. The German recycling company has been awarded a multimillion-dollar contract by the Hong Kong government to build and operate the first electronic waste recycling plant in the city. The government will fund $548.6 million to construct the plant and an estimated $200 million a year to run the scheme. Located on a three-hectare site in the EcoPark in Tuen Mun, the recycling plant will deal with the waste from electrical and electronic equipments including computers, televisions, monitors, refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners. The recycling scheme introduces a circular economy to the Hong Kong market, forming a dynamic process between manufacture and consumption. The new model is an attempt to replace the old linear chain that starts from excavation to production, consumption and ending in landfill. "The recycling scheme aims to convert 85 per cent of the waste into secondary raw materials, such as plastics and alumina", Mr Mattravers said. "The company will also offer door-to-door service since some equipments can be difficult to move", he added. A spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Department said the government aimed to apply the "polluters pay" principle by charging a recycling levy …

Business

Hong Kong less attractive to Golden Week travellers

  • 2015-10-06

By Joanna Wong and Crystal Tse   Hong Kong retailers and hotel owners are having a depressing Golden Week due to a drop in the number of mainland China tourists. The downsizing of mainland Chinese tourists actually travel and shop in Hong Kong during their one-week National Day holiday signals the start of an "ice-age" for the tourism and hospitality sector. Visitor arrivals recorded by the Immigration Department from October 1 to October 4 showed a year-on-year decrease of more than 5 per cent. The number of mainland visitors increased about 4 per cent from last year, when the main business districts were occupied by pro-democracy protestors. Analysts believe many of them are transit visitors heading towards other countries for vocation. The trend could be seen as early as in August. According to Hong Kong Tourism Board, overall visitor arrivals were down 6.6 per cent in that month compared to the same period last year. The number of mainland visitors decreased by 7.1 per cent, or more than 300,000. Overall hotel room occupancy rate also dropped by 3 per cent. Tourism constituency lawmaker Yiu Si-wing blames the localist-led anti-parallel trading protests targeting mainland shoppers. "Hong Kong's ‘shopping paradise' and ‘city of hospitality' slogans no longer match how Chinese, or even Southeast Asian tourists, perceive us," he said. Lai Mei-hui, a university student and a tourist from Jiangxi, said Hong Kong was becoming more unwelcoming to mainland travellers. "After watching the news about Hong Kong, some [Chinese] people who originally wanted to visit were turned off," she said. "They choose Thailand instead." Many countries, including the United States, have relaxed visa policy for mainland tourists, making Hong Kong less attractive as a destination since 2003, when the Individual Travelling Scheme was first introduced, said Mr Yiu. He also admits that China's …

Business

London says yes to the yuan, no comment to local politics

  • 2015-09-23

  By Kumiko Lau Upon the devaluation of renminbi in August and despite market uncertainty, London stood firm in supporting the internationalisation of the Chinese yuan. Alderman Alan Yarrow, Lord Mayor of City of London and the British representative of financial and professional services industry said last Friday that the devaluation of yuan did not change the United Kingdom's view on developing itself into the largest renminbi centre in the West.While China is mulling a 15 to 20 per cent devaluation of its currency by year-end 2016 according to research firm IDEAglobal, Mr Yarrow said that it was inevitable for China to devaluate its currency alongside with the continuous growth of renminbi business. "It is an ideal strategy for China to use its reserve to stabilise the volatilities of the currency under its current transitional economy model." He added that the devaluation of the renminbi also complemented the stage of the journey for the government to rebuild its economy. And that London is supportive over the inclusive of yuan in the International Monetary Fund's mixed currency international reserve asset, Special Drawing Rights which the next review will happen in October 2016.   On the flip side, when Mr Yarrow was asked to comment on whether the Chief Executive of Hong Kong overrides the separation of power, he said that one country two systems inevitably brings conflicts into the play but he has no doubt that this system and the rule of law are critical to the development of trade. He however refused to further elaborate the UK's stance on the democratic development in its former colony. He said that it was to the Chief Executive and the Beijing government to comment and articulate on the matter. "We believe that the Chinese government is very keen on universal suffrage even though this is not included in the Sino-British Joint Declaration." Mr Yarrow will …

Business

Chinese market plunge puts off Hong Kong individual investors

  • 2015-09-01

  By Viola Zhou   Autumn semester is starting in a few days but 22-year-old Mr Kowin Lee has more than grades and timetable to worry about. The third year business student at Hong Kong Baptist University had lost more than $70,000 in the past month as the Chinese stock plunged. "That's about 40 per cent of my total investment," Mr Lee says. "The crash is so dramatic." Mr Lee is one of the many individual investors who have suffered from the excessive volatility of the Chinese equity market in late August. They are worried that the wild plummet will carry on after several months of market fluctuation. Last month, the city's benchmark Hang Seng Index had fallen by 12.5 per cent, the worst monthly loss since September 2011. Nearly $3,000 billion evaporated from the market within four weeks. The Index went down for seven consecutive trading days since 14 August and on it's worst day, dubbed the "Black Monday" by Chinese media, the Index tumbled 5.17 per cent hitting the lowest since May 2014. The fall was caused by a series of panic sell-off in mainland China. Mr Louis Lam, an economist at ANZ research, says China is the world's second largest economy and a slump there will spill over to all the stock markets in the region, including Hong Kong's. "Hong Kong stock market is very inter-related with China's economy," Mr Lam says. "A lot of Hong Kong-listed companies have businesses in China." Within August, the Shanghai Composite Index dropped by more than 12 per cent while Shenzhen's index fell by 15 per cent. Over 6,000 billion yuan (about $729 billion) was whipped away. To halt the drop before the "Victory Day" military parade on September 3, it did not take long till Beijing, again, placed in the …

Business

Smartphone-operated toys the way to go

  • 2015-02-24

Hong Kong toy industry has thrived by developing remote-control apps   Hong Kong toy manufacturers may have lost their former clout as the world's biggest player, but the industry's surviving operators have succeeded in using technology to maintain the appeal of their products, from dolls, model tanks to model guns. E-Supply International Limited is a manufacturer and exporter of various kinds of radio-controlled toys. In 2012, the company attached a camera to one of its products, the quadcopter, which was originally a remote controlled multi-rotor miniature helicopter. Now a user can control the quadcopter and shoot real time videos of 640x480 pixels resolution in the air, with the moving images appearing in real time on the screen of his smartphone. E-Supply opened a line named i-Toys especially for the application-controllable toys. "A smartphone is a must-have right now. Toy makers have to stick with the trend and advance with time. So we combine toys and smartphones together," said the company's business development manager Ms Kenes Cheung. She said the trend of embracing toys that connect with smartphones was "unstoppable" and the company was therefore "actively producing more user-friendly apps". "We have thought of building an app that is universally applicable to all of our i-Toys products," Ms Cheung added. "Let's see what will happen". Although the relevant technology is already quite mature, toy manufacturers still face many difficulties. Few years ago, AR Attack, a local toy company that made miniature water guns in the 60s, created an alien shooting app calls ARliens. This app incorporates augmented reality technology by overlaying computer-generated content on to a real-life image captured on a smartphone to turn the product AR Gun into a virtual shooting tool. Players can battle with virtual enemies in the tailor-made app when a smartphone is attached to the toy gun and connected via Bluetooth. The …