Mr. Mats Gerlam
Investment Promotion Executive
First, Mats, let me inform our readers that we met recently at the Port of Norvik/Stockholm deep water port introduction last week and that you represent InvestHK. Can you tell us a few details about InvestHK, as well as what you can do practically for people and companies that are interested in Hong Kong?
Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) was established by the Hong Kong SAR government to spearhead Hong Kong’s efforts to attract inward investment. InvestHK offers solution-oriented investment promotion, facilitation and after care services to ensure that companies have all the support required to establish or expand operations in Hong Kong. All assistance is free-of-charge. I represent InvestHK in the Nordics together with my colleagues Richard Chui (covering Norway) and Geert Hovens (covering Denmark).
Considering the fast development of many other Chinese cities, do you think Hong Kong is still the place to be as the gateway to China?
HK is unique as being part of China but, operating under another system (one country, two systems). The main differences between mainland China and HK are:
- HK has its own legal system (common law), its own immigration control, its own currency and zero tolerance for corruption.
- Chinese and English are both official languages.
- HK features a low and simple tax system.
- It has world class ICT infrastructure.
- Social media wise, East meets West. For example, Facebook is allowed.
- HK is the only international financial centre in China featuring:
1. Freely convertible currency with no
restrictions on capital flows.
2. Private ownership of the banking system, with a govt. focused on regulation.
3. The free flow of information.
4. A legal system that’s free from political control protecting private property.
Is it easy to set up shop in Hong Kong? Is it still regarded as a tax haven or, rather, what is the current situation considering the various statements from the EU?
The World Bank ranks different countries with regards to the ease of doing business. HK, as a special administrative region, is ranked number four in the world, just after New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark. China is ranked forty-sixth. The EU no longer list HK as a tax haven though, which is good.
Speaking of private and corporate tax, what is the level of taxation nowadays in Hong Kong?
The tax system in HK is very simple and low. The corporate tax is 16.5% (though the first two million HKD is taxed at half of that, i.e. 8.25%). The personal income tax is 15%, employer social security is 5% and employee social security is 5%. There’s no VAT/GST/Sales tax, no capital gains tax, no withholding tax on investments, no estate duty, no global taxation and no wine duty, etc.
Are there costs involved with obtaining help and guidance from InvestHK?
Our service is entirely confidential and totally free of charge.
How many Scandinavian companies would you say are currently represented in Hong Kong? How many are Swedish?
There are around 400 Nordic companies in HK, of which 160-180 are Swedish (according to Business Sweden). We at InvestHK have eight to ten companies per year that establish themselves in HK with our help. The total number of companies in 2018 was 436. Mainland China continues to provide the most with a total of 101 companies, followed by the US (63), the UK (43), France (26) and Australia and Singapore (both 20).
How do you envisage the future of Hong Kong? In 1997, China took over from the British and I believe they promised to keep it under its own or dual system for some fifty years. What is your opinion on that? Has Hong Kong changed, or will it remain free and open for business?
It’s impossible to predict the future, but I’m convinced that HK has its role and will stay one of the freest economies in the world.
What’s the best way to contact you?
My contact details are as follows: