Speech at Policy briefing of Panel on Commerce and Industry (By Videoconferencing)

Briefings by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs and the Secretary for Innovation and Technology on the Chief Executive’s 2020 Policy Address

Strengthening investment promotion

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that in order to rebuild confidence of overseas communities in Hong Kong upon further stabilization of the pandemic, the Administration would, through the ETO network and together with various overseas organizations, promote the successful implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” and Hong Kong’s advantages on various fronts, and encourage enterprises to use Hong Kong as the launch pad to expand into the Mainland and Asian markets. Mr CHAN opined that as Hong Kong’s financial stability was a major concern for overseas investors, the Administration should engage, apart from representatives from CEDB and Invest Hong Kong (“InvestHK”), also representatives from the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (“HKMA”) in external promotion activities, so as to present a comprehensive picture of Hong Kong’s situation to the international community.

SCED said that the HKSAR Government’s promotion effort outside Hong Kong was multi-faceted. Depending on the focus of the target markets, InvestHK’s offices outside Hong Kong, ETOs and the offices and liaison units of the HKSAR Government in the Mainland would work with bureaux and agencies, including HKMA, in updating their interlocutors on Hong Kong’s latest developments. For example, the Chief Executive of HKMA led representatives of Hong Kong Association of Banks to attend their annual meeting with the Mainland’s financial regulators in end December 2020 by videoconferencing. SCED added that in August 2020, he co-chaired a videoconference with Southeast Asian Nations Economic Ministers to further regional cooperation.

Support for small and medium enterprises and self-employed persons

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that the Administration would extend the eligibility for funding under EMF to enterprises other than SMEs. He enquired about the measures to prevent the funding from benefitting large enterprises which were not in need of assistance.

SCED said that in order to support enterprises in conducting local market promotion activities through both online and offline exhibitions, as well as to maintain Hong Kong’s leading position in large-scale merchandise exhibitions, the Administration proposed to extend the funding scope of EMF, from specifically aiming at markets outside Hong Kong to also covering large-scale exhibitions held by organizations with good track records targeting at the local market, as well as virtual exhibitions organized by HKTDC and reputable exhibition organizers with good track records, for a period of two years. SCED assured members that SMEs were the major beneficiaries of EMF and the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales (“BUD Fund”). Under both EMF and the BUD Fund, funding would be provided on a matching basis and with a ceiling. These Funds, together with the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme, were all targeted at assisting SMEs.

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that the Administration had enhanced the Special 100% Guarantee Product under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme (“SFGS”) in September 2020 by, inter alia, increasing the maximum loan amount from the total of employee wages and rents for six months to that for 12 months. Given the persistence of the pandemic, Mr CHAN suggested that the Special 100% Guarantee Product be further enhanced by further raising the maximum loan amount to the total of employee wages and rents for 18 months.

SCED said that the Special 100% Guarantee Product had met with good response and SMEs found it much easier to obtain loans from the participating lending institutions. From mid-2020 until the present, over 25 000 enterprises, mainly SMEs, had been able to obtain loans under the Special 100% Guarantee Product, involving a total approved loan amount of about $40 billion. The unused total financial commitment of the 80%, 90% and 100% Special Guarantee Products now stood at around $73.1 billion.