No.2  February, 2020  
Bilateral relations
Hong Kong Budget to stimulate economy and support community
A massive spending plan was unveiled in the Hong Kong Budget 2020-21 on 26 February to revive the economy and ease the burden on people as the city battles economic headwinds amid the COVID-19 epidemic. There are substantive measures to stimulate and diversify the economy. On financial services, the initiatives include issuing green bonds totalling HK$66 billion (about AUD$12.7 billion) over the next five years; waiving the stamp duty on stock transfers paid by Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) market makers when creating and redeeming ETF units listed in Hong Kong; issuing inflation-linked retail bonds and Silver Bonds totalling not less than HK$13 billion (about AUD$2.5 billion); and establish a limited partnership regime and provide tax concession for carried interest issued by private equity funds to attract them to domicile and operate in Hong Kong.

Proposals to promote innovation and technology include earmarking HK$3 billion (about AUD$577 million) for Phase 2 of the Hong Kong Science Park Expansion Programme; exploring the development of a third InnoHK research cluster; increasing the grant ceiling under the Technology Voucher Programme and raise the Government’s funding ratio; and providing HK$345 million (about AUD$66.3 million) for a pilot subsidy scheme to encourage the logistics industry to enhance its productivity through technology application.

There will also be an additional funding of over HK$700 million (about AUD$134.6 million) for the Hong Kong Tourism Board to step up external promotion after the epidemic, and HK$150 million (about AUD$ 28.8 million) for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to assist Hong Kong enterprises in exploring business opportunities.

Read the full budget speech.
  Update on Hong Kong’s efforts in containing coronavirus
Assisted by a number of experts, the Hong Kong Government has taken actions based on the continuous assessment of the situation with a view to cutting off the transmission of the virus in Hong Kong. Over the past month, the Government accorded top priority to the prevention and control of the disease. All available manpower and resources have been deployed to fight the disease. No time has been wasted in constructing isolation and quarantine facilities, arranging transport and delivering supplies, trying to make the best preparation for the worst-case scenario. The HKSAR Government will continue to work with various sectors in the community, including the local and international business chambers, to safeguard the health and safety of all residents, and when the situation stabilises, to relaunch Hong Kong.

Read here about actions by the HKSAR Government to fight against the coronavirus. Anti-epidemic information is also available from a thematic portal, Telegram channel and Interactive Map Dashboard.
  Anti-Epidemic Fund to enhance capability in combating the epidemic
The Finance Committee of Hong Kong Legislative Council approved the injection of HK$30 billion (about AUD$5.8 billion) into the Anti-epidemic Fund on 21 February in order to enhance the capability of the Government and other relevant parties in combating the COVID-19 epidemic, and to provide assistance or relief to enterprises and members of the public hard hit by the current epidemic or affected by anti-epidemic measures. The Anti-epidemic Fund Steering Committee deliberated and approved the funding commitment for 24 measures at a meeting on 26 February. Relevant bureaux and departments of HKSAR Government will implement these measures as soon as possible to provide support to enterprises and members of the public.

Read here for details of the 24 approved measures and their funding commitments.
  Tech talent scheme enhanced
The Innovation and Technology Commission launched on 30 January enhancement measures to the Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS) to allow more eligible companies to apply. When it was inaugurated, TechTAS covered tenants and incubatees of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited which conducted research and development (R&D) activities in seven technology areas. The areas comprised artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, financial technologies, material science and robotics. With the new enhancements, TechTAS now covers six more technology areas including 5G communications, digital entertainment, green technology, integrated circuit design, the Internet of Things and microelectronics. Its coverage is now extended to all companies conducting R&D activities in the 13 technology areas in Hong Kong. The scheme’s improvements aimed to contribute to Hong Kong’s innovation and technology development by expediting admission of technology talent from around the world to undertake R&D work in the city.

Read more about the scheme here.
  Partial funding to be disbursed in advance for Enterprise Support Scheme-funded projects
The Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) announced on 31 January arrangements for disbursing partial funding in advance for projects funded by the Enterprise Support Scheme (ESS). The arrangements aim to ease the cash-flow requirements faced by small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups when they conduct the funded projects. Under the new arrangements, which are applicable to applications submitted to the ITC from 1 February, the ITC will disburse an advance payment of up to 50 per cent of the matching fund approved under the Innovation and Technology Fund for the first six months or up to HK$500,000 (About AUD$96,000), whichever is lower, to the recipient company upon request and on the condition that the recipient company has contributed the same amount on a matching basis. The remaining payment will be disbursed in instalments upon the recipient company’s fulfilment of the obligations stated in the agreement. The ESS aims to encourage more private sector investment in R&D through funding support for enterprises to conduct in-house R&D work.

Read more here.
HKETO Events
HKETO showcases Hong Kong in Sydney Lunar Festival Dragon Boat Races
To share the joy of the Lunar New Year with members of the public in Australia, HKETO Sydney participated in the Sydney Lunar Festival Dragon Boat Races at Darling Harbour on 1 and 2 February. Cheered on by spectators, a Hong Kong Team organised by the HKETO won the City of Sydney Sponsors Cup in the Social Category races on February 2. Three races were named the Hong Kong Connect Cup, the Hong Kong Excel Cup and the Hong Kong Super Cup with trophies presented by the Director of the HKETO Sydney, Mr Raymond Fan. During the two-day event at Darling Harbour, the HKETO also set up a marquee where various pamphlets about the latest developments of Hong Kong such as those on the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Hong Kong-Australia Free Trade Agreement, and souvenirs promoting Hong Kong’s green living and Hong Kong branding were distributed. Representatives from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong Tourism Board in Sydney also participated by distributing leaflets on Hong Kong’s trade events and travellers' guides as well as providing information to visitors at the marquee. HKETO also displayed Hong Kong-themed banners with Lunar New Year greeting messages in some key city locations of Sydney during the Lunar New Year period.

Read more here.
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