No.2  February, 2019  
Bilateral relations
Budget of Hong Kong SAR Government predicts 2-3 % GDP growth in 2019
The Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong SAR, Mr Paul Chan, announced in the 2019-20 Budget on 27 February that Hong Kong posted a surplus of US$7.5 billion (about AUD$10.5 billion) in fiscal year 2018-19, with a GDP growth of 3% in 2018. He said that Hong Kong’s fiscal reserves are expected to reach US$148.9 billion (about AUD$208.46 billion) by March 31, 2019. GDP growth of 2% to 3% is forecast for 2019. The Financial Secretary said that the budget initiatives are designed to support enterprises, safeguard jobs, stabilise the economy and strengthen livelihoods. Hong Kong’s innovation and technology sector received a massive boost, with more than US$5.6 billion (about AUD$7.84 billion) earmarked for the sector. Substantial sums were allocated to develop healthcare services, financial services, arts and culture, professional services, creative industries, smart city, tourism and sports. Total government revenue for 2019-20 is estimated to be US$80.2 billion (about AUD$112.28 billion), while overall expenditure is estimated to be US$77.92 billion (about AUD$109.09 billion). Read the full text of the Budget speech here.
  Greater Bay Area blueprint spells out Hong Kong’s key roles
The Central Government promulgated the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Outline Development Plan) on 18 February, which sets out the directions guiding the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The Outline Development Plan supports Hong Kong in consolidating and enhancing Hong Kong’s status as international financial, transportation and trade centres as well as an international aviation hub, strengthening Hong Kong’s status as a global offshore Renminbi business hub and its role as an international asset management centre and a risk management centre, promoting the development of high-end and high value-added financial, commercial and trading, logistics and professional services, making great efforts to develop the innovation and technology industries, nurturing emerging industries, and establishing Hong Kong as the centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region. These areas of work are all conducive to developing Hong Kong into an international metropolis with enhanced competitiveness. The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AustCham Hong Kong) welcomes the Outline Development Plan and believes that Australian business, expertise, ingenuity and investment can play an important part in this vision. Learn more here about the Outline Development PlanHong Kong SAR Government’s press release welcoming the Outline Development Planthe speech of the Chief Executive of HKSAR at a Symposium on the Outline Development Plan, the press release of Hong Kong SAR Government on the Symposium on Outline Development Plan, and the statement of AustCham Hong Kong.
  Hong Kong rated as world’s freest economy for 25 consecutive years
The Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom report released on 25 January ranked Hong Kong as the world’s freest economy for the 25th consecutive year. Hong Kong’s overall score remained at 90.2 which made it once again the only economy attaining an overall score higher than 90. The Foundation continued to recognise Hong Kong’s economic resilience, high-quality legal framework, low tolerance for corruption, high degree of government transparency, efficient regulatory framework and openness to global commerce. The Chief Executive of HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, received a copy of the report on 28 January from the Founder of the Heritage Foundation, Dr Edwin Feulner, at Government House. Mrs Lam said Hong Kong would continue to facilitate free market operation and improve the environment for doing business. Read more here.
  Hong Kong’s value of exports of services resumed solid growth in 2017
The Census and Statistics Department released on 12 February the Hong Kong’s trade in services statistics for 2017. Comparing 2017 with 2016, the value of total exports of services increased by 6.3% to HK$812.9 billion (about A$143billion), and that of total imports of services increased by 4.7% to HK$605.5 billion (about A$106 billion). The mainland of China and the USA were the top two main destinations of exports of services of Hong Kong, accounting for 39.9% and 14.3% respectively of the value of total exports of services in 2017. A Government spokesman noted that the value of exports of services resumed solid growth in 2017, benefitting from the synchronised global economic upswing in that year. Growth was broad-based across major markets. Read more here.
  CUHK partners with three top global universities in medical robotics research
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) established partnerships with three top-notch overseas institutions, namely ETH Zurich, Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University, on 31 January to deepen ties on transdisciplinary medical robotics research. The three overseas institutions will collaborate with CUHK through the planned Multi-Scale Medical Robotics Centre (MRC) which aims to develop effective and accessible imaging and robotic technologies that will reshape the future of medical diagnosis and treatment of diseases in multiple specialties, and ultimately, improve the quality of life of patients. Speaking at the signing ceremony for the transdisciplinary Medical Robotics Research Partnerships between CUHK and the three overseas institutes, the Chief Executive of HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, said she is confident that the MRC would advance the diagnosis and treatment of multiple medical specialties. Read more here.
Latest from Hong Kong
  HKETO celebrates Year of the Pig in Australia
To celebrate the Year of the Pig, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Sydney (HKETO Sydney) co-hosted a Chinese New Year reception with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Invest Hong Kong and the Hong Kong-Australia Business Association in Sydney on 19 February and in Melbourne on 25 February under the theme of "Connect and Excel". Speaking at the receptions, the Director of HKETO Sydney, Mr Raymond Fan, said 2018 was an incredibly successful year for Hong Kong and a landmark one for the Hong Kong-Australia relationship. He said Hong Kong continued to build on its reputation as the gateway to Asia, growing its connections with the Mainland of China and the region, and to thrive as a world leader in economic freedoms and as a business hub, excelling in its endeavours to further develop its reputation as a dynamic and rewarding place to do business. Mr Fan said 2019 is shaping up to be another excellent year both for Hong Kong and for its relations with Australia, noting the successful conclusion of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between Hong Kong and Australia in November last year. Mr Fan said the Greater Bay Area would surely bring Hong Kong significant opportunities to diversify its economy and develop innovation and technology, which is an economic driver in the new era. Read more about the reception in Sydney and in Melbourne.
  HKETO promotes Hong Kong’s strengths 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 9 and 10 February. A “Hong Kong Team” organised by HKETO Sydney competed in the Social category of the races on 10 February. Three races were named “Hong Kong Connect Cup”, “Hong Kong Excel Cup” and “Hong Kong Super Cup” with trophies presented by the Director of the HKETO Sydney, Mr Raymond Fan. A marquee was set up to showcase Hong Kong’s strengths as a sports hub during the two-day event. Various pamphlets about the latest developments of Hong Kong and souvenirs promoting Hong Kong’s green living and Hong Kong branding were very well received by the public. Find out more here.
  HKETO showcases Hong Kong’s culture and diversity at Auckland Lantern Festival
To celebrate the Chinese New Year with members of the public in New Zealand, HKETO Sydney again participated in the Auckland Lantern Festival, which this year took place from 14 to 17 February at Auckland Domain. Eight giant pillar lanterns along with magnificent Hong Kong photos to showcase Hong Kong’s unique culture and diversity were set up. HKETO Sydney also erected a marquee with a design based on Hong Kong’s magnificent skyline and distributed information leaflets about the latest developments of Hong Kong as well as souvenirs promoting Hong Kong green living and Hong Kong characteristics. Read more here.
Upcoming events
  Seminar to discuss unparalleled opportunities of the Greater Bay Area for New Zealand (New Zealand)
HKETO Sydney and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce will jointly host a seminar on 21 March in Auckland on how Hong Kong can connect New Zealand with the Greater Bay Area. Topics will include how New Zealand can benefit from the development of the Greater Bay Area, how recent significant road and rail projects are improving connectivity within the Greater Bay Area and benefitting business, and how Hong Kong, as an  international and technology hub, can connect New Zealand business with limitless possibilities. Read more here.
  Entertainment Expo beams spotlight on showbiz (Hong Kong)
The highly anticipated Entertainment Expo, Asia’s premier showbiz event, will be held from 18 March to 14 April. The leading showbiz event will present an exciting mix of film, TV, music and digital entertainment. Highlights include the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FILMART), Hong Kong International Film Festival, Hong Kong Asian-Pop Music Festival and ifva Festival. Read more here.
  Hong Kong E-Prix ready to ignite (Hong Kong)
The 2019 Hong Kong E-Prix will see a range of electrifying new features added to its programme as 22 drivers from 11 teams take to the city’s Harbourfront street circuit on 10 March. While the iconic Hong Kong Harbourfront track remains unchanged with 10 turns and two hairpins, the addition of the new ‘Attack Mode’ is another on-track innovation that will impress speed lovers in 2019. Read more here.
  Art Basel and Art Central to present a diverse collection of artworks (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong’s flourishing arts scene comes to fruition each March with in inspirational spectrum of events. Highlights include Art Basel and Arts Central which will gather local and overseas artists and galleries presenting a diverse collection of artworks. Find out more about the artists and galleries who will participate in Art Basel and Arts Central.
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