The Greater Bay Area should embrace economic and financial connectivity

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The Greater Bay Area should embrace economic and financial connectivity

The 11 city cluster should leverage its unique advantages to embrace economic and financial interconnectivity, which is crucial for future growth, with the implementation of the national strategy for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Anthony Neoh, chair of the Asian Academy of International Law, said in his keynote address that the Greater Bay Area has various growth drivers, such as an enlarging population and a leading financial ecosystem.

The GBA itself consists of 70 million people and will grow to 100 million people in the next 15 years, according to Neoh. That kind of energy produced by people would be very important and promises a great future. The area has two of the largest stock markets by liquidity, namely those of Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and the GBA is a world of contrasts where three systems and three currencies exist - in the province of Hong Kong, Macao SAR and Guangdong.

The regional economy is so important and strong that Hong Kong can't be alone, said KC Chan, chairman of WeLab Bank. He said that Hong Kong should tap into the growing digital economy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as other parts of the GBA, which should be propelled by their attractive demographic and technological base.

Hong Kong must be a connector and facilitator, not just a marketplace to serve a local customer base, Chan said.

He believes that the city needs to do more in terms of developing the financial markets and technology sector, including bringing in talent and attracting companies.

On the same panel, Cui Li, chief economist, managing director and head of macro research at China Construction Bank International, said that the GBA can play a big role in international risk sharing.

She said that such a risk-sharing platform in the region will be an important and promising area to work on after the first insurance securities were issued in Hong Kong last year for international investors.

Carson Wen, Chairman of BOA International Financial Group, suggested that the central government move the border for Hong Kong's quarantine system to the GBA, so that people in the region could enjoy easy movement.

Wen said that unless people can easily move around, there is no way for Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area to work together.

Xiao Geng, director of the Institute of Policy and Practice, Shenzhen Institute of Finance, said that the development of the GBA presents a challenge that must be addressed: that of integrating Hong Kong's offshore market and the Chinese mainland onshore market without changing the fundamental nature of the one country, two systems principle.

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The challenge, according to Xiao, would be to establish a special economic zone between Hong Kong and mainland cities in the GBA, where offshore companies can be regulated by Hong Kong, but have an operating center in places like Qianhai or Nansha.

We could maintain one country, two systems, and maintain the onshore-offshore difference. Xiao said that they could have some exceptions to allow those leading corporations to achieve better internal allocation and also to have a free cross-border movement of their people, their money and their information at the corporate level. That is a win-win solution.