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Things employers should know about the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA)

Things employers should know about the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA)


An introduction to the nine municipalities in the Mainland GBA, along with Hong Kong and Macao SARs (the 9+2 cities) and four important development zones in the Mainland GBA (the 4 zones) - in short, here's your '9+2+4' guide.

If you've got your sights set on expanding your presence in North Asia, or if you're a business operating in Hong Kong, you are likely to be keen to know more about the Greater Bay Area (GBA), and the industries it supports.

The GBA is made up of the two Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of Hong Kong and Macao, and the nine municipalities of:

  1. Guangzhou,
  2. Shenzhen,
  3. Zhuhai,
  4. Foshan,
  5. Huizhou,
  6. Dongguan,
  7. Zhongshan,
  8. Jiangmen, and
  9. Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province.

The total area is around 56,000 km, the total population is over 86mn, and the GDP in 2021 was USD 1.9tn, which exceeds that of South Korea, Spain and Australia.

Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) and PwC have recently jointly launched an investment guidebook to help foreign companies setting up or planning to set up in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) via Hong Kong. We've pulled out some of the key things that employers and decision makers need to know from this guide.

Fast facts about the nine municipalities and the two SARs (9+2) in the GBA:

  1. Guangzhou: Guangzhou, as one of the nation’s International Consumption Centres, is a distribution centre for consumer goods such as beauty products, coffee and tea, as well as fresh flowers.
  2. Shenzhen: Shenzhen is renowned as a city of innovation, playing a leading role in electronics, internet and information technology, life sciences and new energy industries.
  3. Zhuhai: The six core industries are IT, home appliances, electricity and energy, biopharmaceuticals and medical devices, petrochemicals and precision machinery; while printing supplies and yacht manufacturing are the other two special industries.
  4. Foshan: In 2021, the 14th Five-Year Plan of Guangdong Manufacturing Industry assigned Foshan to develop key traditional and emerging manufacturing industries (such as precision instruments, integrated circuits, semi-conductors, etc.) as well as to help promote the west of the Pearl River Delta.
  5. Huizhou: The modern industrial system of Huizhou consists of IT and petrochemicals (the pillar industries), together with the automotive and equipment manufacturing industry, and the clean energy industry.
  6. Dongguan: Dongguan is famous for its manufacturing industry. Its pillar industries are IT, electrical machinery and equipment; shoes and accessories; food and beverage processing.
  7. Zhongshan: Zhongshan has a plan to boost innovation and development, build the Zhongshan Science and Technology Innovation Park, Photon Science Centre, and an advanced low temperature technology research institute, etc.
  8. Jiangmen: Jiangmen is a strong agricultural city in Guangdong Province.
  9. Zhaoqing: Zhaoqing focuses on culture, tourism, sports and other areas to leverage economic growth, with new hotspots in consumer sectors for future development. 
  10. Macao SAR: As a free port and an independent tariff zone, Macao has a wide international marketing network with close ties to Portuguese-speaking countries, offering an attractive corporate tax rate of no more than 12%.
  11. Hong Kong SAR: Hong Kong adopts a low, simple and competitive tax system. Only three direct taxes are imposed: profits tax (16.5% / 8.25%), salaries tax (15%) and property tax (15%). 

Fast facts about the four important zones in the GBA for cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao:

Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone (located within Shenzhen municipality) 

  • Companies established in Qianhai and engaged in encouraged services industries can enjoy a preferential tax regime (i.e. corporate income tax rate reduced from the statutory rate of 25% to 15%): These cover 30 sectors in technology services, modern logistics, cultural innovation, information services, and business services.
  • Registered Hong Kong, Macao tax professionals (in certain sectors) allowed to work in Qianhai.
  • Qianhai International Talent Hub.
  • Subsidies and grants to talent.
  • Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur hub.

Guangdong-Macao In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin(located within Zhuhai municipality)

  • Companies established in Henqgin and engaged in encouraged services can enjoy a preferential tax regime (i.e. corporate income tax rate reduced from the statutory rate of 25% to 15%).
  • The zone provides Free Trade Port Treatment; reduced individual income tax rate (reduced from the top rate of 45% to effectively 15%) to qualified talent; and tax exemption on dividends from overseas investments made by companies established in China and engaged in designated industries.
  • Four major industries: (1) Scientific and technological research and high-end manufacturing (2) traditional Chinese medicine; (3) cultural tourism, convention and exhibition; commercial and trade industries; and (4) financial services.
  • Macao residents that live and work in Hengqin, aligning with public services and social security system.
  • Making breakthroughs in development relative to technologies, talent, and the flow of capital and information.

Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Cooperation Zone (located within Hong Kong and Shenzhen municipality)

  • A new joint arrangement with regard to the establishment of a One Zone, Two Parks system within the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation & Technology cooperation Zone was agreed between the Hong Kong SAR and Shenzhen Governments in September 2021. The zone comprises the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park (HSITP) and the Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Zone (SZ I&T Zone).
  • This initiative indicates a clear support for Hong Kong's development into an international I&T hub and further deepening of the cooperation between Hong Kong and Mainland in I&T.
  • Focus on breaking institutional barriers to opening up, innovation and cooperation.
  • Build platforms for cross-border cooperation.
  • Set-up of InnoLife HealthtechHub with focus on R&D in health and life disciplines.

Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Comprehensive Cooperation Demonstration Zone in Nansha (located within Guangzhou municipality)

  • Nansha is the hub connecting the city groups on the banks of the Pearl River Estuary. Its seven functional areas are committed to the economic and technological development of the Nansha district and Guangzhou, and to building an integrated service hub based on Guangdong-Hong Kong cooperation.
  • The key industries to be developed for this commitment include shipping logistics, international finance, international trade, science and technology innovation, marine economy and high-end manufacturing industries.
  • It is committed to establishing an internationalised business environment adapted to international rules and prioritising the liberalisation of service trade with Hong Kong and Macao.
  • Nansha is expected to become an international shipping logistics centre with integrated international trade functions and financial services, forming a base for scientific and technological cooperation with countries and regions along the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road.

On the launch of the Guide, Director-General of Investment Promotion at InvestHK, Stephen Phillips, said: "Hong Kong is well positioned to play a pivotal role as a unique gateway for international businesses to access the GBA and the Mainland market at large. The scale and scope of the opportunities are too significant for business around the world to ignore and Hong Kong is a fantastic entry point to the GBA."

PwC South China and Hong Kong Tax Leader, Charles Lee, added: "We advise enterprises to have a 'GBA mindset' to strategically pool and nurture talents in the region to enhance productivity and creativity; develop GBA strategies to tap into new market potential; realise location advantages in the GBA to build a robust supply chain; and make use of institutional policies to expedite market access." 

Lead image / Guide launched by InvestHK and PwC 

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

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