Exporting to Hong Kong, China

As one of Asia’s leading financial and business centres, Hong Kong has an open, transparent and competitive market. English is widely spoken. It has sophisticated financial services and distribution links, an efficient port terminal, a free port status and unrivalled connectivity to mainland China through air, rail, road and sea. Its links to international markets within Asia also make it attractive for re-exporting.

Gateway to Mainland China

Hong Kong has long played a crucial role in connecting UK businesses with Mainland China and other Asian countries, proving to be a leading conduit for flows of outbound and inbound investment.

Freest economy

For the 25th consecutive year, the Heritage Foundation has ranked Hong Kong as the world’s freest economy in this year’s Index of Economic Freedom (Heritage Foundation, 2019). This is a reflection of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government’s commitment in upholding free market principles over the years. Regulations are light, taxes are low, and as a free port, Hong Kong levies no customs tariffs on imports or exports.

Ease of doing business

3rd

out of 190 countries (World Bank, 2020)

Currency

Hong Kong Dollar

Business language

Chinese (Cantonese dialect) and English

You may need a translator

GDP per capita

$48,450

UK is $41,030 (IMF, 2019)

Economic growth

3%

(IMF, 2019)

Time zone

GMT +8

Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Hong Kong have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.

Doing business in Hong Kong

Preparing to export

VAT

If you’re registered for VAT in the UK, it may be possible to zero-rate the goods you export to Hong Kong, provided certain conditions are met.

Taxes

There is no sales tax in Hong Kong. It has one of the lowest tax rates, and simplest tax structures, in the world. There are only 3 direct taxes: on profits, salaries and property. None exceed 17% and there are multiple deductions.

The Inland Revenue Department gives clear instructions on payment and procedures relating to tax.

Standards and technical regulations

The Customs and Excise Department is responsible for consumer protection for goods, toys and children’s products.

The Centre for Food Safety provides information on regulations relating to food and drugs labelling.

Pre-packaged foods must be labelled with mandatory nutritional information. Any nutritional claims about the contents must comply with the regulations. Food and formula consumed by children under the age of 36 months and food for special dietary uses are exempt.

Operating in

Intellectual property

As a first step, we advise you to speak to an intellectual property (IP) lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

The importance and need for protection of intellectual property (IP) has long been recognised in Hong Kong, and has been crucial in its development as an international trading centre.

The Intellectual Property Department (IPD) has responsibility for registrations and has an electronic filing system. The UK embassy in Beijing hosts a UK IP officer.

Business culture

Business culture in Hong Kong is quite similar to western culture. The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese (Cantonese dialect) and English. English is widely spoken in the business world and in urban areas of Hong Kong. Sales and marketing material in English is generally sufficient, but in some cases, there may be advantages in having material prepared in Chinese.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.