The Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) connected local tech companies and investors to Hong Kong trade officials last week, hoping to establish a link between Birmingham entrepreneurs and China’s Greater Bay Area.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s (HKTDC) visit to Birmingham is one part of the BBA’s international trade efforts, centered around both growing local companies and recruiting more foreign-based companies to the region.
Hong Kong and Asia are growing markets in tech, and Hong Kong is home to over 2,200 startups, more than 60 coworking spaces and accelerators, and employs over 6,300 – an increase of 165 percent over the last five years.
While in Birmingham, members of the HKTDC met with several companies, economic developers and other key partners. The day kicked off with Mr. Winchell Cheung of HKTDC speaking at BBA’s monthly Investor Roundtable to local companies about Asia’s booming innovation and technology hub. Later, they met with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to discuss the Asia IP Portal and opportunities to collaborate with industries and universities in Hong Kong and to discuss best practices among cities across the U.S.
During lunch, sponsored by Baker Donelson’s global business team, HKTDC met with Export Alabama Alliance partners and key local companies for a more in-depth conversation about future trade opportunities and the current policy climate. Later in the day, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) hosted meetings with local financial technology companies and investors. The following day, HKTDC met with economic developers in the City of Hoover and Shelby County (58 Inc.) to discuss opportunities for future trade and partnership.
“Hong Kong is the gateway to mainland China and Asia,” Cheung said. “It is becoming a very hot area as a consumer market. It is very good with huge potential.”
International trade is an important component of the Birmingham business landscape, said Emily Jerkins, director of research for the BBA and the manager of BBA’s international trade efforts.
“It’s important that BBA continue to facilitate trade and collaborative partnerships internationally,” Jerkins said. “Growing local companies via exports and recruiting more foreign-based companies will become increasingly vital as we aim to diversify Birmingham’s economy and create more quality jobs.”
Nestled within four hours of all of Asia’s key markets and five hours of half of the world’s population, Hong Kong has recently immersed itself in innovation and research and development, specifically artificial intelligence and robotics, biomedicine and healthy aging, and financial technology.
Hong Kong is located in southeastern China but is an autonomous territory, boasting its own economic, legal and social systems. Touted as the “world’s freest economy,” it has been called the home of the world’s most business-friendly tax system by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and for good reason – it has no sales tax, no capital gains tax and a flat income tax, Cheung said. Its GDP is up 3 percent and trade is up 7.9 percent, and its location within China – the world’s largest trade giant – allows it geographical proximity to booming business.
“China has been the factory of the world for the last 35 years,” Cheung said.
To learn more about doing business in Hong Kong, visit here.
To learn about BBA’s international trade program, visit here.
To stay up to date on future BBA Investor Roundtables, visit here.