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Jan retail sales up 0.9%

The value of total retail sales in January, provisionally estimated at $36.5 billion, rose 0.9% compared with the same month in 2023, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.   After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate represents a 1.2% year-on-year decrease.   Of the total retail sales value in January, online sales accounted for 6.5%. Provisionally estimated at $2.4 billion, the value of this segment went down by 20.9% compared with a year earlier.   Noting that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year due to the timing of the Lunar New Year, the department said the year-on-year comparison of the figures might have been affected to a certain extent.   The value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased 25.2% compared with January 2023.   Increases were also recorded in the sales of other consumer goods not elsewhere classified (up 7

CS elaborates on Qianhai plan

Chief Secretary Chan Kwok-ki, together with officials from the central authorities and the governments of Guangdong, Macau and Shenzhen, attended a press conference in Beijing today, where they introduced the latest developments of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), which covered the Overall Development Plan for the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Co-operation Zone, with a view to taking forward the high-quality development of the bay area.


The Qianhai Overall Development Plan, promulgated by the central government this month, provides a comprehensive view of the strategic positioning, development objectives, spatial layout, industry planning, business environment, urban planning, quality living environment and governance model of the Qianhai Co-operation Zone.


Mr Chan said: “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is grateful for the central government’s latest promulgation of the Qianhai Overall Development Plan.


“The development of the Qianhai Co-operation Zone is an important initiative for supporting Hong Kong’s social and economic development; fostering a higher level of co-operation among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau; and establishing a new development paradigm in pursuing opening up.


“Leveraging the institutional advantages of ‘one country, two systems’ and a business environment that is highly market-oriented, internationalised and underpinned by the rule of law, Hong Kong will deepen co-operation with Shenzhen on the implementation of the Qianhai Overall Development Plan.


“Hong Kong will continue to capitalise on its own advantages serving as an international financial, maritime and trading centre as well as an international aviation hub, to assist Qianhai in expediting its alignment of rules, harmonisation of mechanisms and development of a modern services industry.”


On financial services, Mr Chan said Hong Kong supports the policy initiatives in the Qianhai plan that will enhance the city’s status as an international financial centre and an intermediary for two-way flow of capital, which will in turn provide support for the further opening up of the Mainland markets.


These policy initiatives include taking forward the establishment of insurance after-sales service centres in the bay area; supporting Qianhai enterprises to make use of Hong Kong as a platform for fundraising, establishing overseas operations and issuing green bonds; and fostering collaboration in fintech.


In Qianhai, Hong Kong-invested enterprises are allowed to choose Hong Kong law as the applicable law and choose Hong Kong as the seat for arbitration. Mr Chan said Hong Kong will continue to develop itself into a centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region.


“To dovetail with the Qianhai Overall Development Plan, we will promote the interface of cross-boundary rules between Hong Kong and Shenzhen as well as support Hong Kong legal practitioners who have obtained the Lawyer’s License (GBA) to practise as legal consultants in law firms in Qianhai.”


As regards professional services, the Chief Secretary told reporters that Hong Kong supports Qianhai in seeking more policy breakthroughs on a pilot basis under the Qianhai Plan.


“For instance, Qianhai will provide facilitation for Hong Kong enterprises and professionals of the construction and related engineering sectors that have acquired corresponding qualifications by way of registration to provide services at planning and designing stages.


“Also, Qianhai will support local accounting firms to launch non-audit services with Hong Kong accountants.”


Additionally, Mr Chan pointed out that riding on the development of the Northern Metropolis, Hong Kong will co-operate with Qianhai in developing the modern services industry to promote economic co-operation in areas such as finance, logistics, and professional services.


“More Qianhai enterprises will be encouraged to make good use of Hong Kong to expand their overseas businesses.”

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