The four pillar industries, comprising financial services, tourism, trading and logistics, and professional and producer services, have been a driving force of the Hong Kong economy for years. In 2009, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) accepted the recommendation of the Task Force on Economic Challenges on the development of six industries where Hong Kong enjoys clear advantages. They are medical services, education services, environmental industries, innovation and technology, testing and certification services, and cultural and creative industries.
Financial services cover a wide range of services including banking, insurance, stock brokerage, asset management and other financial services. Hong Kong is a major international financial centre, providing a wide range of products and services to market users, both local and international, and both retail and institutional. Banks in Hong Kong are engaged in a wide range of retail and wholesale banking business such as deposit taking, trade financing, corporate finance, treasury activities and securities broking. Besides, Hong Kong is the regional centre for trading of shares, unit trust and mutual funds. Hong Kong’s position as a financial hub is supported by a business-friendly environment, low tax rates and a trusted legal system enforced by the HKSARG.
Tourism covers inbound tourism and outbound tourism. Inbound tourism covers retail trade, accommodation services (including hotels, guesthouses, boarding houses and other establishments providing short-term accommodation), food and beverage services, transport and personal services, yet pertaining only to the part provided to visitors. Outbound tourism covers cross-boundary passenger transport services and travel agency, reservation services and related activities, yet pertaining only to the part provided to Hong Kong residents travelling abroad.
Trading and Logistics refer to the process of planning, implementing and controlling the movement and storage of goods (including raw materials, goods in progress and finished goods), services and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption. The activities include freight transport, freight forwarding, storage, postal and courier services. Trading firms are closely associated with logistics activities.
Professional services cover legal, accounting, auditing, architectural design and surveying services, engineering services, technical testing and analysis, scientific research and development, management and management consultancy activities, information technology related services, advertising, specialized design and related services, etc. Hong Kong boasts a vibrant and diverse service sector. These services are provided to clients in Hong Kong, the Mainland of China and throughout the world. Hong Kong’s strength in professional services underpins the smooth operation of the business sector and Hong Kong’s development into a regional services hub.
Producer services refer to services for use by other companies (i.e. intermediate consumption) in the local economy, as well as exports of services to companies and individuals. In the past few decades, many types of producer services, especially import and export, freight transport, trade financing, insurance services on goods in Hong Kong have expanded rapidly. The rapid expansion is closely linked to the expansion of the goods-producing activities of Hong Kong entrepreneurs offshore, particularly across the boundary in South China. Indeed, the rise of producer services has transformed Hong Kong from a manufacturing centre into a service hub dominated by producer services.
Cultural and creative industries comprise different component domains, which mainly include advertising; architecture; art, antiques and crafts; design; film, video and music; performing arts; publishing; software, computer games and interactive media; and television and radio. Much of the sector’s growth is fuelled by Hong Kong being Asia’s regional business hub and the strong presence in the city of multinational corporations as well as many small and medium scale enterprises, with the HKSARG highly supportive of new creative enterprises through its CreateHK initiative.
Medical services cover medical services provided by private hospitals, clinics, medical and dental practitioners, nursing and residential care for the elderly and persons with substance abuse and disabilities as well as medical-related activities including retail sales of medical products and medical insurance. The city’s highly developed healthcare system offers a range of exciting opportunities, while the rapidly growing markets in Mainland China and other parts of Asia provide lucrative potential for future expansion.
Education services cover kindergartens, private primary and secondary schools (both profit and non-profit making), tutorial schools, self-financed post-secondary and other university courses (including university courses for non-local students), and other education-related services. Training provided to business firms is also included, as it is an important activity of continuing education for enhancing the competency of staff and hence productivity.
Innovation and technology cover research and development (R&D) activities as well as activities relating to the commercialisation of R&D outputs. They drive the development and introduction of technologically new or significantly improved products or processes in relevant organisations for commercial purposes. The approach in promoting innovation and technology development is underpinned by strategies including providing world-class technology infrastructure, offering financial support to develop and commercialise their R&D results, nurturing talent, strengthening science and technology collaboration with the Mainland and other economies, and fostering a vibrant culture of innovation.
Testing and certification services cover business establishments engaged in technical testing and analysis; cargo inspection, sampling and weighting; and medical and X-ray laboratories as their major economic activities. Over the years, the industry has established a good foundation, based on a robust accreditation system, high professional standards and an excellent reputation.
Environmental industries in Hong Kong mainly include sewerage and waste management, environmental engineering and consultancy services as well as import/export and wholesale trading of waste and scrap. The HKSARG supports green initiatives with tax incentives and public projects, including the incubator schemes provided by Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks. Hong Kong consumers have a strong awareness of environmental issues and are receptive to new technologies.