SAR companies make up only a fraction of total registered in special zone so far amid lingering concerns
It has been almost five years since the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hongkong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone came into being, but the response from Hong Kong enterprises, it seems, has been cool.
The zone, which is now a part of the ambitious Guangdong (China) Free Trade Zone (FTZ) established in April this year, has seen just 2,315 companies from the SAR set up shop there so far - representing only 4 percent of the total number of 60,530 firms that have registered in Qianhai, while the original target is about one-third of the total.
Tian Fu, director of the administrative committee of Qianhai and Shekou FTZ, however, on Monday praised what he called the "high quality" of Hong Kong businesses that are already operating in Qianhai although their number is limited for the time being.
"In the first half of this year, about one quarter of Qianhai's GDP and 29 percent of our tax revenue came from Hong Kong companies," he said.
"Shenzhen's advantage is the development of high-tech industries, but it lacks a standardization of international business procedures, which is Hong Kong's big asset," stressed Liu Guohong, vice-director of the Finance and Modern Industry Research Center at Shenzhen-based think tank, the China Development Institute.
"Hong Kong, on the other hand, needs the support of Shenzhen's innovative industries and the further opening up of the mainland's services market," he said.
Another major concern is Qianhai's business environment, especially its legal system, before deciding whether or not to register themselves in Qianhai, according to Li Yuhong, business general manager of Shenzhen-based Foresea Cube Management Consulting Co Ltd, the business promotion partner for Qianhai. She told China Daily her company helps an average of five to six Hong Kong firms to get them started in Qianhai each month, and most of them have already set up operations or trading on the mainland.
Li also expressed concern that many Hong Kong businesses have little knowledge of what's going on in Qianhai.
She cited, as an example, a fund launched for Hong Kong companies in January this year, saying only a few companies from the SAR have got to know about it.
Through the fund, small and medium-size Hong Kong companies operating in Qianhai qualify for 2 million yuan ($314,777) in financial aid or a 20-million-yuan loan subsidy.
Liu also called for an upgrade in services for the business community.
Besides attracting financial companies, he suggested, Qianhai should attract more legal, consultancy and other professional business-services firms to the special zone.
The Qianhai authorities pledged on Monday to step up cooperation with Hong Kong by jointly creating an international financial center focused on making the zone a key hub for renminbi internationalization. Such cooperation would facilitate the creation of a global financial center, backed by increased links between the two cities' capital markets, such as the upcoming Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect, according to Liu.