HONG KONG: Pitching itself as a gateway to mainland China, Hong Kong today wooed Indian investors, asking them to set up business ventures here to take advantage of its world-class infrastructure and a stable tax system.

“India is a very important market for us and we are hopeful that we can attract more Indian companies to Hong Kong this year,” Invest Hong Kong, Associate Director General Jimmy Chiang told Indian reporters here today.

Invest Hong Kong is a government department for attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment into Hong Kong.

Highlighting advantages of investing in Hong Kong, he said the global financial hub offers world class infrastructure, low and stable tax system and independent judiciary to protect interest of investors.

Asked about the potential sector for Indian companies to invest in order to tap China and Hong Kong, Chiang said Indians can look at tourism and hospitality, consumer products and logistics and industrial goods.

“The key sectors for Indian investors are tourism and hospitality and its sub-sector food and beverage,” he said.

He further said, “Indian companies which are food suppliers and traders can look at the possibility of setting up sales offices here not only to cater to local needs of Hong Kong consumers but also make use Hong Kong as hub to sell products in mainland China.”

“Indian companies are very strong in doing jewellery, diamond and other luxury trading business and they can also make Hong Kong as hub for the same,” he said.

Other sectors include logistic companies, shipping as well as companies making industrial products, Chiang said.

“These sectors demonstrate strong potential for our friends from India in terms of business development in Hong Kong and China,” he added.

He further said, “India is number one country for which we have received applications for work visas and this shows Indian investors are coming to Hong Kong to set up businesses.”

Chiang said last year, Invest Hong Kong assisted seven Indian companies to set up businesses in Hong Kong.

“They were from consumer products financial services, tourism and hospitality as well as transportation and industry,” he added.

“This year we are expecting more Indian companies to set up business here,” Chiang said.

Invest Hong Kong is eyeing to assist 390 foreign companies to establish their ventures this year.

“Last year, we assisted 375 foreign companies from different parts of world. This year, our target is 390 and it is pretty ambitious target given the current global economic situation. But we are optimistic that we can achieve our target,” he said.

He further said Hong Kong attracted foreign investment of USD 103 billion in 2014 across the world, which is just second to the mainland China that attracted USD 129 billion in the same year.

“Hong Kong is super connector between China and rest of the world,” he said.

He further said that close to 8,000 companies have offices in Hong Kong, of which 3,798 companies have regional offices.

He further said in about 2-3 years time, integration between Macau and South China will be strengthened which will bring more opportunities for investors.

Chiang asserted that there is a sound legal system and independent judiciary in Hong Kong.

Talking about the tax system, he said, “Hong Kong has simple and low tax system. But we are not a tax haven because profitable companies need to pay some tax to government, which is 16.5 per cent of their profit,” he added. There are no VAT, GST, capital gain tax and tax on interest, he said.

He further said there are no import tax except in case of cars, tobacco and petrol.

Notably, there are 12 Indian companies with regional headquarters in Hong Kong, 15 with regional offices and 37 with local offices, mainly engaged in trading, banking, IT and logistics.

India is the fourth largest export market for Hong Kong and ninth largest source of imports in 2015.

Hong Kong’s total exports to India expanded 8.1 per cent to USD 13.1 billion in 2015, with export items including telecom equipment, pearls, precious stones, among others.

Hong Kong’s imports from India totalled USD 10.6 billion in 2015 with major import including jewellery, leather, among others.