Cooperation key for success, says Tsang
Hong Kong people and businesses should "break new ground together," Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said in his policy address as he unveiled plans to enhance the four traditional pillars of growth and develop six new economic pillars to further boost "brand Hong Kong."
The six new areas are education services, medical services, testing and certification services, environmental industries, innovation and technology, and cultural and creative industries.
The private sector in these industries currently contributes about 7 to 8 percent of GDP and employs around 350,000 workers, or about 10 percent of the total workforce, Tsang said.
More than 1,000 old industrial buildings will be made eligible for redevelopment or conversion to optimize land use.
On education, schools and institutions will be internationalized while four greenfield sites will be offered to four operators for international school development. On medical services, tenders will be invited by the end of the year for four private hospital sites at Wong Chuk Hang, Tseung Kwan O, Tai Po and Lantau.
Testing and certification services will be developed over three years, with the priority on Chinese medicine testing. And on environmental industries, the government's green procurement list will be expanded.
Other initiatives include: the SAR participating in the development of Qianhai in Shenzhen to promote and enhance local service industries; the possibility of setting up a multifunctional office in Taiwan; mapping out a comprehensive strategy for Central's future development; and public consultation on health-care financing will resume next year.
Tsang, meanwhile, said the East Asian Games in December will "be the legend" and contribute to the long-term development of sporting culture. The young will be provided internet learning and those who are not interested in formal education will have an alternative to build a career "with their creativity" if cultural and creative industries are developed.
"With appropriate policies to remove obstacles to their development, the six industries will enter a new phase of development, propelling Hong Kong toward a knowledge-based economy,'' Tsang said.
He said Hong Kong will continue to enhance the four traditional pillars - financial services, tourism, trading and logistics and professional services - which account for 60 percent of GDP. "We must try every means to enhance the flow of people, goods, capital and information that are related to the four pillar industries.''
He called on the public and industry to engage with each other, while policy discussions should be transparent. "We also need to dispel the misconception that collaboration between the government and the business sector is cronyism in disguise.''
If government, the business sector and the public cooperate with one another "wholeheartedly, the six industries stand a better chance of success," he said.
Tsang also said economic integration with the Pearl River Delta region "is the direction for Hong Kong." He said some worry that the SAR will lose its uniqueness or that the territory may be marginalized, particularly with the rise of Shanghai.
But Hong Kong has its own unique edges: the rule of law, the free flow of information and good international networks.
In the next decade, integration between Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta will speed up and increase in breadth. "We are entering a new era, but we need not worry about the new competitive landscape. With an open mind, pioneering spirit and full preparation, we can break new ground together.''