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Business Environment in Hong Kong

Hong Kong offers an unusually stable and efficient business environment with the modern infrastructure and telecommunications that could be expected of the world's 9th largest economy. The territory's economy could rightly be described as the most laissez faire economy in the world. The government's policy is strictly non-interventionist.

Government controls and disclosure requirements on businesses are minimal, except for public limited companies. There are only minimal capitalisation requirements for private companies and financial statements need not be filed if a company incorporates as a wholly-owned subsidiary in Hong Kong. Six month visas are normally granted to intending residents with employment, and holders of dependant visas (like spouses and children) are allowed to accept employment with no special consents. Hong Kong has no compulsory union membership and copyright laws essentially follow those of the United Kingdom, with Hong Kong a party to the Paris Convention.

Although a special administrative region of China the territory is a British common law jurisdiction which recognises the concept of a trust. British and Hong Kong company and trust law are virtually identical and the tight secrecy, minimal corporate disclosure and loose administrative requirements that characterise some offshore island common law jurisdictions either do not apply or have little significance in the territory. In any event Hong Kong does not consider itself an offshore centre in the traditional sense of the word.

Bankers, accountants, lawyers and other professionals who serve multinational firms have thrived in a community of local firms that has become increasingly transnational since the opening of the Mainland to foreign trade and investment in the late 1970s. This deep-rooted local familiarity with the needs of international business makes Hong Kong an easy place in which to find joint-venture partners and to find expatriate professionals. Local staff can easily be recruited from local companies which have a ready familiarity with the dispersed operating needs of a multinational business.

Hong Kong is unsurpassed in the extent to which it brings local and overseas firms together into a single business community. The constant interaction between thousands of overseas firms and local businesses in a supercharged business environment generates growth opportunities for both sides in setting up international networks, entering new lines of business, finding new sources of supply and new markets and linking up with business partners from Hong Kong, China and elsewhere.

According to the results of the 2007 Annual Survey of Regional Offices Representing Overseas Companies in Hong Kong, conducted by the Census and Statistics Department, there were 1,246 regional headquarters (RHQs) and 2,644 regional offices (ROs) of companies incorporated outside the territory located in Hong Kong as of June 1, 2007. This compares to 966 RHQs and 2,241 ROs at the same point in 2003, the survey noted.

The United States topped the list of countries/territories with companies that have RHQs in Hong Kong, with a total of 298, followed by Japan with 232, UK with 124 and mainland China with 93 firms.

There were 47,417 new local companies registered under the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance in the first six months of 2007, up 19.12% on the same period last year, 32 newly listed companies on the Main Board. The total number of live companies registered was 622,318,

Companies Registry statistics show that 316 new overseas companies established a place of business in Hong Kong and registered under Part XI of the Companies Ordinance in the first half of 2007, up 12.46% on the same period last year. The total number of overseas companies stood at 7,854.

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