Hong Kong 2003
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The Institutional Framework

Commerce and Industry Branch

The Commerce and Industry Branch of the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau is responsible for the formulation and coordination of policies and strategies in relation to Hong Kong's external commercial relations, inward investment promotion and intellectual property protection. It also oversees the development of policies and programmes for the industrial and trade sectors, including SMEs, as well as the business and services promotion. The branch is assisted in its work by a number of departments, namely the Trade and Industry Department, the Invest Hong Kong, the Customs and Excise Department and the Intellectual Property Department. It is also supported by a network of Economic and Trade Offices outside Hong Kong.

Trade and Industry Department

The Trade and Industry Department is responsible for handling the HKSAR's commercial relations with its trading partners, implementing trade policies and agreements, including the issue of certificates of origin and export and import licences, as well as providing general support services for the industrial sector and SMEs.

Invest Hong Kong

Invest Hong Kong is the government department established on July 1, 2000 to spearhead Hong Kong's efforts to attract inward investment. Its Head Office in Hong Kong works closely with the Economic and Trade Offices and consultants in North America, Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Australia to offer solution-oriented investment promotion, facilitation and after-care services to ensure that foreign companies have the support required to establish or expand their operations in the HKSAR, the Mainland and the Asia-Pacific region. Invest Hong Kong also provides information to facilitate the making of informed investment decisions by investors in setting up regional headquarters and regional offices in Hong Kong.

Invest Hong Kong adopts a proactive investment promotion strategy by focusing on economic sectors where Hong Kong has an edge over other cities. The targeted sectors are financial services, trade related services, transportation, telecommunications, media and multimedia, business and professional services, information technology, technology (especially electronics and biotechnology), and tourism and entertainment. In addition, Invest Hong Kong seeks to strengthen its after-care service with a view to retaining and expanding investments already made.

From January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2003, Invest Hong Kong assisted 142 foreign companies in completing 142 investment projects in Hong Kong, an increase of 21 per cent compared with 2002. The total amount of investment generated exceeded $2.49 billion, and over 2 400 new jobs were created.

Investment promotion activities included sponsoring and participating in several major international conferences. BusinessWeek's CEO Forum in November featured leading business executives and government officials, including Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan and former US President Bill Clinton, and attracted over 600 delegates.Invest Hong Kong supported other major events in 2003, such as the 21st Pacific Insurance Conference with 300 senior executives from the life and health insurance industry; CASBAA (The Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Convention 2003) with 91 speakers and some 1 100 delegates from around the world.

Invest Hong Kong's work in promoting Hong Kong's advantages was recognised at the Asia Pacific Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) Awards 2003 organised by Strategic Direct Investor magazine, a Euromoney Institutional Investor publication. Invest Hong Kong won awards for the Best Overall Managed IPA, Best North Asia IPA, Best IPA in Creating Partnerships and Best IPA in Attracting Financial Services Investment.

Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices

The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices seek to promote economic and trade interests by enhancing understanding of the HKSAR among opinion-formers; closely monitoring developments that might affect the HKSAR's economic and trading interests, such as proposed legislation; and liaising closely with the business and commercial sectors, politicians, think tanks and the news media. They also organise events to promote Hong Kong's image. In addition, most of these offices seek to attract direct investment into Hong Kong. One of the means is to actively promote Hong Kong's enhanced business advantages and environment under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.

The offices are located in Brussels, Geneva, London, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington and Guangdong.

The Brussels Office represents Hong Kong's economic and trade interests in dealings with the European Union (EU). It also monitors and promotes bilateral relations with the EU and its member states except the United Kingdom.

The Geneva Office represents Hong Kong, China, as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and represents Hong Kong as an observer on the Trade Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The London Office promotes Hong Kong's economic and trade interests in the United Kingdom and non-EU countries including Switzerland, Norway and Russia as well as the Central and Eastern European countries that will acede to the EU in May 2004. Hong Kong's representative to the International Maritime Organisation is also based in the office.

The offices in Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto are responsible for bilateral economic and trade relations in their host countries. The Sydney Office is also responsible for promoting Hong Kong's economic and trade interests in New Zealand. The Singapore Office is responsible for Hong Kong's commercial relations with the member states of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). It also serves as a direct point of contact with the Secretariats of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), which are located in Singapore.

The Washington Office focuses on monitoring and liaising with the US Administration, Congress and think tanks on legislation and government policies that may have implications for Hong Kong's trade with the United States. The New York Office and the San Francisco Office are responsible for promoting economic and trade relations between Hong Kong and individual US states and also seek to attract direct investment into Hong Kong.

The Guangdong Office, which came into operation in July 2002, is situated in Guangzhou City. Its main duties are to promote trade and economic relationships between Hong Kong and Guangdong Province, to provide better support services for Hong Kong businesses operating in Guangdong, especially the Pearl River Delta, and also to provide free advisory service and assistance to enterprises in the province, which are looking for direct investment opportunities in Hong Kong. It is also the first Economic and Trade Office to be established in the Mainland.

Customs and Excise Department

The Customs and Excise Department is responsible for enforcing various trade control systems, including the certification of origin system, the textiles import and export control system, the strategic commodities control system and the import and export declaration system. These systems aim to protect and facilitate legitimate trade. The department is also responsible for enforcing the criminal law for the protection of copyright and trade marks, as well as enforcing consumer protection legislation relating to the safety of various commodities, the integrity of weights and measures, and the marking of precious metals. In addition, to ensure that Hong Kong has an adequate supply of rice, which is an essential foodstuff for the local population, at a reasonably stable price, the department monitors the local stock of rice. Since January, the department has also taken on a new responsibility of enforcing the certification scheme for rough diamonds. Its aim is to stop trade in 'conflict diamonds' from fuelling armed conflicts, activities of rebel movements and illicit proliferation of armaments. Upon the signing of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, the department has also taken up the responsibility of enforcing the relevant control system through conducting factory inspections, consignment checks, costing verifications, blitz checks and investigations to ensure that goods exported under the Arrangement meet the requisite rules.

Intellectual Property Department

The Intellectual Property Department runs the Trade Marks, Patents, Designs and Copyright Licensing Bodies Registries, advises on policy and legislation related to intellectual property protection, provides civil intellectual property legal advice to the Government, and promotes public awareness of and respect for intellectual property rights.

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