Hong Kong keen on Thai investors
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Hong Kong keen on Thai investors

Startups urged to explore opportunities

Chiang: City abridge to China
Chiang: City abridge to China

Hong kong: Thai startups are being encouraged to explore business opportunities in Hong Kong, after Beijing eased its Covid-19 rules and reopened borders on Jan 8.

Jimmy Chiang, Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion (Business Development) at Invest Hong Kong, the government department responsible for attracting and facilitating foreign direct investments to Hong Kong, said the city is welcoming startups from Thailand due to their potential.

"We have done various promotional events in Thailand in recent years to attract Thai startups to [come] here," Mr Chiang said in a group interview.

"We know that the startups in Thailand are developing very quickly."

Hong Kong last week invited a group of foreign journalists to speak to government officials and experts who deal in economics and investments during the city's 16th Asian Financial Forum (AFF), as the city state promotes its investment potential.

This year's forum, themed "Accelerating Transformation: Impact. Inclusion. Innovation", came on the heels of the resumption of quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and mainland China, with business travel gradually returning to normal.

Mr Chiang said that Invest Hong Kong is duty bound to invite foreigners to invest in Hong Kong, and it is his responsibility to explain investment-related programmes to them.

"The aim is to make [investors] understand how they can set up their business here," he said.

"We always introduce them to host counterparts, like the government funders, incubators, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park and the cyber port, for Thai investors to explore opportunities for acceleration or incubation programmes for funding support."

When asked about the cost of doing business in the city, he admitted that costs can be high in Hong Kong.

"I won't object to 'Hong Kong is not a cheap place to do business'," he said.

Ruangroj: Urges more participation

"[But] actually there are also a number of government funding programmes to make it easier for [Thai] startups to establish a foothold in Hong Kong."

Addressing economic freedom concerns surrounding Beijing, Mr Chiang said Hong Kong welcomes trade and investment opportunities together with other economies. It also continues to uphold economic freedom.

It is well positioned to capture opportunities, he said, adding the city can act as a bridge between mainland China and the rest of the world.

"I am not pessimistic, [I'm] actually quite optimistic about that development trend," he said.

Thai sentiment

Ruangroj Poonpol, President of Technology of Kasikornbank, who was among 20 Thai delegates attending the AFF in Hong Kong, said he was impressed to see many fintech, biotech and logistics startups exhibiting their ideas and products at the forum.

At the event, the company promoted its crypto startup business.

However, Mr Ruangroj said he wished to see more Thai startups travel to attend such a forum.

He said he was invited to attend by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), which has an office in Bangkok.

"If Thai businesses want to invest in Hong Kong, HKTDC is the first you should talk to," he said.

"I heard that there will be a symposium themed 'think investment, think Hong Kong' to be held [by HKTDC] in Thailand middle of this year.

"Hong Kong can also be a destination for startups who want to expand their businesses in mainland China and East Asia," he said, encouraging owners of Thai startups to travel to Hong Kong to meet foreign investors during next year's forum.

Apart from startups, he said Thais in other business sectors, such as real estate, logistics and finance, should come to Hong Kong to explore business opportunities.

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