ASIA: Hengqin, Nansha, Qianhai special zones to speed up roll-out of tax, legal incentives for offshore funds.

As published on scmp.com, Wednesday 31 May, 2023.

Hengqin, Nansha, and Qianhai, three special economic zones in the Greater Bay Area, are accelerating their roll-out of preferential tax systems, legal frameworks and streamlined application procedures to encourage more offshore funds to invest, a conference heard.

Three top financial officials from the districts said the measures would offer incentives for offshore companies and capital during a panel discussion on Tuesday at a private equity summit in Hong Kong attended by some 700 industry players.

Nansha in Guangzhou, together with Qianhai in Shenzhen and Hengqin in Zhuhai, are three key development zones earmarked by China’s central government under the Greater Bay Area project, which envisions turning Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and seven other Guangdong cities into a massive financial and technology hub by 2035.

“Low barriers and less limits are set for offshore funds to enter Hengqin,” said Jay Pao, deputy director of the financial development bureau of the Guangdong-Macau In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin.

“We also have a ‘green channel’ targeting enterprises from Hong Kong and Macau, which allow the application to be completed within one month at the soonest.”

The Shenzhen Qianhai Financial Regulatory Bureau is also aiming to shorten the time taken for applications under the Qualified Foreign Limited Partnership (QFLP), a pilot programme that allows foreigners to invest in China. The plan is to ensure applicants receive the results within 10 working days of document submission, said Yin Zhiliang, the bureau’s deputy director general.

“Geographically located in the centre of the Greater Bay Area, we have a strategic position for collaborating with Hong Kong and Macau and opening up to the outside world. We have launched pilot schemes to serve offshore investors, and will further strengthen financial infrastructure, and sectors related to ESG or green finance, to better serve more foreign funds ” said Zhu Jin, deputy director of the Guangzhou Nansha Economic and Technological Development Zone Bureau of Financial Affairs.

The three economic zones even have competitive advantages over the Yangtze River Delta, said Yin.

“The position of the Greater Bay Area is totally different [than other areas],” he said. “Here are ‘one country, two systems’, three types of currency, three kinds of tariffs, and also three different types of management system. These features give the area a huge economic volume when added up.”

The combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the 11 cities in the bay area was close to 13 trillion yuan (US$1.83 trillion) in 2022, according to local statistics authorities.

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in a recent speech that the economic size of the Greater Bay Area is comparable to Italy, and also a driving force for Hong Kong’s economy.

Tuesday’s panel discussion was part of the China Private Equity Summit, which featured 65 speakers and attracted several hundreds venture capital, private equity practitioners, companies, and other industry professionals.

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