The financial services sector ranks as one of the main pillars of Hong Kong's economy, and it also has an important global role. Encompassing key services such as banking, securities, insurance, fund management and other related services, the sector employs about 6 per cent of Hong Kong's working population, or more than 180 000 people. Being a value-added sector, its activities account for a disproportionately larger share of GDP, about 13 per cent.

HONG KONG is a leading international financial centre with an integrated network of financial institutions and markets. The Government's policy is to maintain and develop an appropriate legal, regulatory, infrastructural and administrative framework, which aims to provide a level playing field for all market participants, to maintain the stability of the financial and monetary systems and to enable Hong Kong to compete effectively with other major financial centres.

Significant achievements in 2002 are highlighted below:

  • Hong Kong is the world's 11th largest banking centre in terms of external assets and seventh largest centre for foreign exchange trading.
  • Hong Kong's stock market is among the world's top 10 in terms of market capitalisation.
  • The Hong Kong dollar debt market continued to grow in 2002. Outstanding Hong Kong dollar debt reached $532 billion at year-end, compared with $494 billion a year earlier.
  • A new Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO) was enacted, which consolidates and modernises a number of ordinances governing the securities and futures markets into a composite piece of legislation, to keep the regulatory regime on a par with international standards and practices.
  • Total assets of Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) schemes grew to about $55 billion at year-end. About 94 per cent of the employers, 96 per cent of the relevant employees and 81 per cent of the self-employed persons have enrolled in MPF schemes.