Commencing a new phase in Hong Kong’s development of re-industrialization
MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):
President, I would like to thank Mr Holden CHOW for proposing the motion on “Commencing a new phase in Hong Kong’s development of re-industrialization” today and Mr Jimmy NG for his amendment, so that we have an opportunity to discuss the future direction of Hong Kong’s manufacturing industry.
The Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan of China proposes to develop and strengthen strategic emerging industries to lay a solid foundation for long-term sustainable development. This has also given Hong Kong some insights into solving its own industrial structure problems. Hong Kong’s industrial development has undergone quite a number of transformations, from a manufacturing-based light industry to a “front shop, back factory” model after the reform and opening up, and then to a service-oriented industrial structure. In recent years, the community is aware of the hollowing out of Hong Kong’s industries and the challenges facing the traditional service-oriented economic structure in the new era, which need to be addressed.
The four pillar industries of Hong Kong together account for about 60% of its GDP, with tourism, trade and logistics industries facing challenges from the Mainland or neighbouring cities in recent years. The SAR Government proposed in 2009 to develop six industries where Hong Kong enjoys competitive advantages, including medical services, education services, environmental industries, innovation and technology, testing and certification, and cultural and creative industries, but in 2019 the six industries still accounted for less than 9% of its GDP, which reflects the slow pace of development.
The Government has been actively promoting re-industrialization in recent years by launching various funding schemes. However, the shift from traditional industries to emerging industries needs to be steered by the innovation and technology system of the Government. The Government must identify in a targeted way new industries with development potential in Hong Kong, set phased milestones, strengthen the training of local professionals, bring in international top talents, and provide support for the development of these industries in various aspects, including the supply of land, the formation of industrial clusters, and the reduction of taxes and fees for enterprises.
Hong Kong can actually step up its efforts in two areas. The first is to develop emerging industries that suit its own circumstances, such as combining artificial intelligence and biotechnology to develop high-end, sophisticated and advanced industrial R&D and manufacturing. The second is to promote the integrated development of emerging industries with existing pillar industries, using advanced technologies to enhance the production efficiency of existing industries and further strengthen their advantages.
For example, biotechnology is an industry worth studying. With the continuous breakthroughs in life science technology, there is a growing concern about the medical pressure brought by the ageing population, as well as the extension of life expectancy and control of the spread of infectious diseases. Hong Kong’s biotechnology industry has a solid foundation of its own, as over 250 companies are currently engaged in biotechnology, and tertiary institutions participate in a number of forward-looking biomedical research projects. In 2018, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited allowed pre-revenue biotechnology enterprises to raise fund through listing on the Main Board. In the future, we can continue to focus on the fields of genetic research, regenerative medicine, and synthetic biotechnology.
Next is artificial intelligence. Mechanical and repetitive tasks performed by computers can alleviate the pressure of high manpower costs, while machine learning breaks through the limits of human judgment and complements humans in business decisions and investment decisions. At the same time, we can promote the integration of artificial intelligence with traditional finance, tourism and trade industries. The integration of artificial intelligence with the financial industry, namely financial technology, can enhance the efficiency of the financial industry and achieve intelligent risk monitoring. The integration of artificial intelligence and the tourism industry can facilitate quick detection of customer preferences, simplify the booking process, and provide 24-hour round-the-clock intelligent customer service. The integration of artificial intelligence with the trade and logistics industry can help predict changes in consumer demand and improve warehouse and logistics management.
However, if Hong Kong cannot find a way to commercialize technology smoothly, there is no point in talking about it. The Government should review the application procedure for funding research institutions in a timely manner to rectify problems such as cumbersome procedure, long approval time and unrealistic criteria. In addition, Hong Kong should make use of its geographical advantage of being close to the Mainland to complement its industrial strengths with those of the Mainland, and speed up the commercialization of Hong Kong products by leveraging on the vast Mainland market.
President, I support the original motion of Mr Holden CHOW and the amendment of Mr Jimmy NG. I so submit.