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BRICS development offers Hong Kong many Opportunities

On Sept 4 2017 President Xi Jinping presided over the ninth summit of BRICS leaders in Xiamen, where he delivered a speech. The main goal of this year's summit was to achieve "stronger partnership for a brighter future". The summit was successful in the sense that it created a roadmap for facilitating economic governance reforms and strengthening win-win cooperation among the five key emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. When the new roadmap rolls out as scheduled, Hong Kong's economy as a whole, and the financial sector in particular, stand to benefit greatly by providing the necessary professional services and financial products. 

In order to meet the strong demand for professional services and financial products arising from rapid growth of trade and investment among these five emerging economies, it is widely believed that the BRICS economies will promote financial market integration by expanding the network of financial institutions and coverage of financial services within BRICS countries. For example, BRICS leaders have agreed to explore and promote the convergence of auditing regulations and accounting standards on bond issuance to lay the foundation for bond-market connectivity among the five emerging economies. Hong Kong's advantageous position arising from its relationship with the Chinese mainland and its prominent role as a global financial and trading center are among the favorable factors to entice more companies from BRICS countries to set up operations and invest in Hong Kong. The numerous international financial institutions operating in the city offer a wide range of services, including fundraising and financing, fund and asset management, loan syndication, foreign-exchange trading and international insurance.

Based on BRICS countries' existing regulatory frameworks and World Trade Organization obligations, BRICS countries have also agreed to implement international standards on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and its proliferation under the Financial Action Task Force framework. Hong Kong has a robust legal system with an independent judiciary. The city's dynamic cluster of local and international law firms, as well as management consultants, offer a wide range of professional services to a variety of business sectors, including trade, finance and investment. These professionals have gained insight into international arbitration expertise and provide practical advice on legal and risk matters. Hong Kong's project financiers and practitioners are skilled at advising, arranging and underwriting financing in a number of different currencies and disciplines including renminbi bonds and Islamic bonds. They are capable of providing prominent and professional services, as well as the expertise in banking and financial regulations, legal systems, international accounting standards, fintech policies, logistics services and emerging industries such as innovation and technology sectors.

The BRICS summit is expected to help accelerate the rollout of the Belt and Road Initiative. BRICS countries, particularly South Africa, Brazil and Russia, strongly support the Belt and Road Initiative. It is generally believed that China's massive investment in and trade with the Belt and Road countries will help speed up the globalization of renminbi. Hong Kong possesses unique competitive advantages in promoting renminbi business globally. The city has the world's largest offshore pool of renminbi liquidity and its renminbi bond market is the largest outside the mainland. These factors will help strengthen Hong Kong's position as the premier offshore renminbi business center and its significant role in helping renminbi become a fully convertible global currency. The city's robust renminbi business in turn will help maintain its competitiveness and strengthen its position as a major international financial center.

Moreover, BRICS economies will strive to seize opportunities brought by the multilateral trading regime favored by the Belt and Road Initiative, which encourages exploration of new models for practical cooperation. The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (SEHK) was the top initial public offering fundraising exchange last year. SEHK has positioned itself as one of the key global financial exchange centers, supported by well-thought policies and a sophisticated regulatory system. SEHK's listing platform has attracted numerous mainland companies and is likely to attract companies from other BRICS economies. It provides a good channel for international investors, including those from Belt and Road countries, to invest indirectly in the various industries of the mainland by trading shares of locally listed Hong Kong and mainland companies. The large demand for funding and financial services would help boost the development of Hong Kong's banking industry: More global banks and those from other BRICS economies are likely to be enticed to operate in Hong Kong.

Cooperation among BRICS countries is set to create many economic opportunities for each and help safeguard the common interests. And Hong Kong can also benefit from closer economic ties among BRICS countries by leveraging its competitive advantages in facilitating connectivity in trade, investment, professionals and finance.

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