Will the HongKong Trade Council visit lead to landmark infrastructure and economic projects in the near future?
If you’ve ever been to HongKong, I’m 99.9 percent sure that you’ve tried their MTR train system. And I’m pretty certain your experience was both pleasant and memorable—there’s free Wi-Fi in every station, facilities such as tactile flooring and Braille plates for travelers with disabilities and public washrooms, shops, banks and takeaway food outlets inside many stations or close to their exits. Despite the huge amount of commuters during rush hour you wont feel any discomfort nor do you have to wait more than a few minutes for the next one to arrive.
No wonder it’s been ranked as one of the top, if not the best train systems in the world.
The company which runs the system, MTR Corporation, also has obtained contracts to operate rapid transit systems in London, Stockholm, Beijing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Melbourne, and Sydney.
So after attending attending the recent Hong Kong Trade Development Council media luncheon/briefing all I could ever think about was that MTR also decides to join (and maybe win) the bidding for the planned Mega Manila Subway—perhaps the most ambitious and expensive project of the Duterte Administration.
Unlike the MRT, which is probably one of the worst, based on my daily experience and millions who ride it everyday, we are all hoping that the next train line would at least make commuting a little less hellish.
We had the chance to sit down with HKTDC Chairman Vincent HS Lo and later co-mission Leader Dr Jonathan Choi, Chairman of the Hong Kong Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of Sunwah Group, who both expressed optimism and were looking into a lot of possible investments in the country.
“China has invested quite a bit but it’s simply not enough. We come in with the vision of bringing substantial investors with us,” HKTDC chairman Vincent HS Lo told reporters.
Lo said the Belt and Road Initiative is bringing real opportunities and benefits to the Philippines and around the region. “Our economic, trade and cultural ties are closer than ever with the growing outreach and exchange, such as our mission. Offering a combination of capital, professional expertise and production capability from Hong Kong and Shanghai, we hope to collaborate with partners in the Philippines to turn investment opportunities into bankable ventures.”
“In terms of amount, there’s no limit, especially if the opportunity is there and if the projects are good,” said Jonathan KS Choi, chairman of the Hong Kong Chinese General Chamber of Commerce.
Choi said Chinese businessmen are particularly interested in aviation, railways and expressways where they have the “capital, expertise and technologies,” and that investments could come in different forms such as capital, financing, consultancy and engineering.
Choi then mentioned Hong Kong’s MTR public transport maintenance and operations, which he said could be applied in the country. In Hong Kong, income-generating stores were built around the railways to subsidize government spending, he said.
“This is the most successful model, because we use the income from the property to subsidize. We build something on top of the infrastructure to compensate,” Choi said.
Hong Kong and Shanghai: Investment Partners
The high-level Hong Kong-Shanghai joint investment mission were in the Philippines for a three day visit to explore cooperation and investment opportunities driven by the growing intra-regional cooperation in Asia, notably under the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Belt and Road Initiative promotes connectivity and economic cooperation among countries along the Belt and Road routes to further market integration in the region.
The delegation was composed of around 40 Hong Kong and Shanghai business leaders and services providers coming from a wide range of industries including consultancy, architecture, energy, waste and water treatment, engineering and construction, legal and accounting, transportation and other sectors. The conference was organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) in association with the Shanghai Federation of Industry and Commerce, consists of some 40
During their Manila visit, the delegation met with local government officials, agencies and business leaders to explore and discuss potential collaborations between Hong Kong, Shanghai and the Philippines on investment opportunities.
Belt and Road facilitators: Hong Kong and Shanghai
At the luncheon, Hong Kong’s unique advantages as a facilitator for infrastructure development and doing business with the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world were promoted. These advantages include the city’s international network, rich talent pool, sound financial system, fair legal structure and efficient infrastructure.
Speaking at luncheon, Dr Choi adds “The delegation is impressed by the prospects of upcoming projects in the country. Apart from capital needs, we also see high demand for total solutions for infrastructure development. In our delegation there are representatives of a wide range of services providers, from architectural and engineering, construction, information technology, project management and operation to legal and risk managements. They are ready to contribute their expertise to the planned development projects.”
The visit of the delegation is timely as Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has made infrastructure development a top socio-economic development priority. Under his “Build, Build, Build” initiative, a list of mega infrastructure projects amounting to US$160 billion is in the pipeline. Infrastructure spending is ambitiously targeted to expand to 7 per cent by 2019. Infrastructure investment is expected to be a major economic driver over the next few years. The Belt and Road Initiative can provide the much-needed infrastructure financing to partner countries.
Close economic and trade links
The Philippines was the 19th largest export market for Hong Kong in 2017. Hong Kong’s total exports to the Philippines rose 12 per cent year-on-year to US$3.6 billion. Over the same period, Hong Kong imports from the Philippines increased by 27.6 per cent year-on-year to US$9.8 billion. Major import items were semi-conductors, electronic valves and tubes (US$6.8 billion, 69.7%), computers (US$604 million, 6.2%), and telecom equipment and parts (US$458 million, 4.7%).
Check out our event photo coverage below: