A memorandum of understanding is signed between the Futian district government of Shenzhen and representatives of the Hong Kong business and technology sectors at the 2023 Shenzhen (Futian) – Hong Kong Economic and Trade Cooperation and Exchange Meeting in Hong Kong on Friday. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

Shenzhen’s Futian district is gearing up to serve as a major gateway for Hong Kong’s integration with the Chinese mainland as it rolls out a broad range of favorable policies to boost cross-border cooperation in technology, finance, fashion and talent exchange, a promotion conference in Hong Kong heard on Friday.

The event is the first economic and trade exchange meeting between the Futian district and the Hong Kong special administrative region since the full resumption of quarantine-free cross-border travel. More than 400 representatives from trade promotion organizations, business associations, companies and institutions in Hong Kong attended the exchange meeting, with 25 agreements signed on-site.

Huang Wei, secretary of the Communist Party of China’s Futian District Committee, said Shenzhen has a new development goal and vision to develop into a more global city in terms of economic influence and also a modern international metropolis. To achieve that Shenzhen must work together with Hong Kong, Huang said.

“We’re particularly thrilled about the vigorous momentum of Hong Kong’s advancing from stability to prosperity as well as its development strategy of the Northern Metropolis,” Huang said. “In turn, Futian could act as an entry point for Hong Kong to tap the Chinese mainland, which is not only the most convenient but also has the most opportunities.”

Home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the city’s central business district, the Futian district contributes one-fifth of Shenzhen’s total economic output, one-quarter of its total retail sales of consumer goods and foreign trade value, according to Huang. The district’s Huaqiangbei — one of the world’s largest electronics manufacturing hubs — has also been the birthplace for tech giants such as Tencent. 

Deepening technological ties are spearheading the integration of Futian and Hong Kong. To promote business, the district offers subsidies of up to 100 million yuan ($14.4 million) for business launches, office space, decorations, accommodation for employees, and speedy permanent residence registrations for tech companies or organizations that are newly registered in Futian. 

Meanwhile, a maximum subsidy of 500,000 yuan will be given to investment-attracting agencies approved by the district government. For those agencies and individuals who effectively bring in targeted tech companies or organizations, Futian will provide fund support of one million yuan for each project, up to five million yuan a year.

The district’s accelerated efforts to enhance its attractiveness to Hong Kong blend well with the overall development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area – an 11-city cluster comprising nine mainland cities in Guangdong province plus Hong Kong and Macao. As one of the world’s wealthiest city clusters, the Greater Bay Area’s gross domestic product hit 12.6 trillion yuan in 2021, up 2.4 trillion yuan from 2017, data from Guangdong’s Development and Reform Commission shows.

A memorandum of understanding is signed between the Futian district government of Shenzhen and representatives of the Hong Kong business and technology sectors at the 2023 Shenzhen (Futian) – Hong Kong Economic and Trade Cooperation and Exchange Meeting in Hong Kong on Friday. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

Today, the focal point of the effort to strengthen Hong Kong’s ties within the Greater Bay Area is Shenzhen, of which the Futian district’s economic and business prowess is complementary to Hong Kong’s advantages in finance and trade, said Bernard Chan Pak-li, undersecretary for Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.

“With its unique geographical advantages, a huge consumption market, and strong vitality in the society, Futian boasts a very good business environment that merits the overseas companies’ attention,” Chan said.

“Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government will continue to strengthen cooperation with the Shenzhen government, with the hope to complement each other’s strengths,” Chan added.

Following the relaxation of cross-border travel restrictions, the flow of people between Hong Kong and other mainland cities including Shenzhen has surged, with economic activities picking up quickly, said Undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Clement Woo Kin-man.

“As the SAR government actively promotes the development of the Northern Metropolis, Futian district is expected to play an even more critical role in connecting Hong Kong, Shenzhen and other mainland cities in the Greater Bay Area,” said Woo.

As introduced by the Futian District Financial Work Bureau, the district is laying out its plans to construct a new financial center in the Xiangmi Lake area and is committed to building a wealth management center with international influence. 

To offer one-stop support for Shenzhen-Hong Kong financial collaboration, Futian has also launched measures that include a maximum of 100 million yuan worth of incentives for financial companies basing themselves in Futian and a maximum of 3 million yuan worth of subsidies for overseas institutions’ maintenance and recruitment. Preferential policies and government subsidies are also available for cross-border campaigns in the fashion industry and talent exchange.

“In 2023, we will continue to actively accelerate the development of a globally influential consumption and trading hub as well as exhibition city,” said Yuan Xiaofang, a member of the Communist Party of China Leading Group of Commerce Bureau of Shenzhen Municipality.

More efforts will be made to deepen the close cooperation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and align the strategy of developing northern Hong Kong into the SAR’s epicenter of growth over the next 20 years, so as to jointly build a world-class bay area, Yuan said.