Hong Kong has opportunities for Kiwi firms

Last updated 05:00 26/11/2013

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Hong Kong wants to attract more New Zealand companies to sell products and services there, according to a government investment guru.

Andrew Davis - associate director-general of the government's department for attracting and facilitating direct foreign investment, Invest Hong Kong - works with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise to advise businesses on how to set up shop in Hong Kong. Previous companies it has worked with from New Zealand include firms from Mainfreight to Comvita.

Hong Kong is New Zealand's 12th largest export market, with almost $800 million worth of Kiwi food and beverage products exported there 2011.

"We see a lot of Kiwi companies coming through with a number of different strengths like food and drink, IT, software and creative industries, as well as banks, airlines and bigger businesses," Davis said.

His job involves giving advice on work permits and visas, importing or trade activities, press and PR support. The department was started 13 years ago and since then it has helped around 3000 projects.

Cromwell vineyard Mount Michael wines used the service to start selling in Hong Kong two years ago. Wellington coffee company Fuel Espresso worked with Hong Kong Invest to establish itself there, with two shops in the Central district.

Davis said Fuel had played a big part in changing the coffee culture there.

"They've done very well and really established themselves as a premium coffee brand. It brought a high quality premium brand to a space that had been dominated by mass market brands."

Fuel Espresso, which has six Wellington cafes, has now opened its first branch in mainland China at a shopping mall in Shanghai.

Davis said starting out in Hong Kong was often useful for companies wanting to do business in the People's Republic of China and other parts of Asia.

"It's not just a gateway, because that means something you go through and don't stop, but it's a super connector. It allows you to reach into the mainland and have all the protection Hong Kong offers, so you have the rule of law in an independent judiciary, you have the free flow of information, you have a fully convertible currency and a multi-cultural, multi-lingual workforce. From Hong Kong you can reach half the world's population in five hours and we've got a very low and simple tax system."

The only imports that were taxed were cars, petrol, spirits and cigarettes, he said. There is no capital gains tax, estate duty or VAT. Only income earned in Hong Kong is taxed there.

There was a "a huge amount" of interest in Hong Kong for food trading, Davis said.

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