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‘Make in India’ roars: Hong Kong shifts industrial base from China to India

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Image source: mediaroom.hktdc.com

Hong Kong: Even as it promotes Hong Kong as the gateway for Indian companies to the Chinese markets, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is promoting India as an alternative manufacturing base for its industries based in China, states a research report.

“In recent years, the sustained rise in production costs on the Chinese mainland has eroded the profit margins of many Hong Kong companies with labour-intensive factories located on the Chinese mainland, prompting them to seek alternative production bases elsewhere,” the report states.

“In a nutshell, India offers many advantages as an alternative production base, along with the added advantage of having a domestic market of great potential,” notes the report.

Most of the manufacturing units in Hong Kong migrated to China to take advantage of the low costs after the region was handed over to the latter by the British in 1997.

Some of the multi-storeyed buildings that once housed garment units are now used as offices or are lying vacant.

With manufacturing units shifting base, Hong Kong has turned into a business services hub.

According to HKTDC’s report, India was the world’s second biggest exporter of textile and garment products in 2014, shipping goods worth $36 billion, behind China’s exports worth a whopping $399 billion.

The report also cites the lower import tariff levied on Indian goods by the US and the European Union (EU).

India has been an active player in Asia, securing free trade agreements (FTAs) inside and outside the region. India has also been in talks on an FTA with the EU.

Further, US import tariff rates for Indian yarn-related products range between zero percent and 2.7 percent. The weighted average import tariff rates of the EU and US on non-agricultural products from India are 4.5 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

On the demographic profile, the report states that the Indian median age of 27 is way below China’s 37, ensuring a good supply of young workers for many years to come.

“As an aside, China recently announced the abandonment of its one-child policy in response to the country’s ageing population, though the effect would not be appreciable over the short-to-medium term,” the report added.

According to HKTDC, the Indian wage levels are comparatively lower than what is paid in China. Furthermore, labour productivity in India is going up while that in China has been declining.

The report also cites the presence of industrial estates with plug and play facilities in India for Hong Kong manufacturers to relocate their factories rather than getting bogged down in land acquisition and other issues.

The HKTDC report cites the huge domestic market available in India for Hong Kong manufacturers apart from the country being an alternative production site for overseas markets.

Meanwhile, businessmen in Hong Kong said that the region is the best route to do business with the Chinese.

“We know the people who have shifted operations out of Hong Kong to China. It is better for Indian companies to set up an office here than landing directly in China,” Noordin A Ebrahim, director of Masterful Ltd, told reporters.

Referring to credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service to cut Hong Kong’s long-term debt outlook due to its close link to China, Ebrahim said: “I feel it is a political judgement rather than financial.”

Ebrahim is of the view that China would not do anything to shake the confidence of the Hong Kong business community and would like to see that peace continued to prevail in the former British colony.

Hong Kong has transparent and rules-based systems, very low taxes and knowledgeable work force, he added.

“Knowledge of the local market is important while branding products for China and other markets. Hong Kong-based brand consultants would provide the same for Indian companies,” David Lo, chairman, Hong Kong Designers Association, told agencies.

“The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between the mainland (China) and Hong Kong would result in the liberalisation of trade in service between the two regions from June 2016,” Yvonne So, director, corporate communication and marketing at HKTDC, told reporters.

“Overseas companies can take advantage of CEPA by outsourcing to, or partnering with, a CEPA-qualified manufacturer or services provider in Hong Kong,” she added.

As for the human resources available, she cited Hong Kong’s nine major universities having more than 75,000 full-time undergraduate students and 8,000 taught and researched full-time postgraduates. (Venkatachari Jagannathan, IANS)

Next Story

The European Union Warns Facebook Over Consumer’s Data Usage

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration. VOA

The European Union’s consumer protection chief said Thursday she’s growing impatient with Facebook’s efforts to improve transparency with users about their data, warning it could face sanctions for not complying.

EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova turned up the pressure on the social media giant, saying she wants the company to update its terms of service and expects to see its proposed changes by mid-October so they can take effect in December.

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European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova attends an interview with Reuters at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. VOA

“I will not hide that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years and I really want to see, not the progress — it’s not enough for me — but I want to see the results,” Jourova said.

The EU wants Facebook to give users more information about how their data is used and how it works with third party makers of apps, games and quizzes.

“If we do not see the progress the sanctions will have to come,” she said. She didn’t specify punishment, saying they would be applied by individual countries. “I was quite clear we cannot negotiate forever, we just want to see the result.”

The EU has been pressing the U.S. tech company to look at what changes it needs to make to better protect consumers and this year Facebook has had to adapt to new EU data protection rules. The concerns took on greater urgency after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal erupted, in which data on 87 million Facebook users was allegedly improperly harvested.

Jourova said she hopes Facebook will take more responsibility for its nearly 380 million European users.

“We want Facebook to be absolutely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money,” she said.

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An advertisement in The New York Times is displayed on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in New York. Facebook’s CEO apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal with ads in multiple U.S. and British newspapers. VOA

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

The company said it “will continue our close cooperation to understand any further concerns and make appropriate updates.”

Jourova also said U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers.

Airbnb has promised to be fully transparent by either including extra fees in the total price for a booking quoted on its website or notifying users that they might apply, she said.

 

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U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers. Flickr

The company is complying with EU demands spurred by concerns that consumers could be confused by its complicated pricing structure, which could add unexpected costs such as cleaning charges at the end of a holiday.

Airbnb is also changing its terms of service to make it clear that travelers can sue their host if they suffer personal harm or other damages. That’s in response to complaints that its booking system can leave tourists stranded if the rental is canceled when all other arrangements have been already made.

Also Read: EU Regulators Question Online Retailer Amazon’s Data Usage

Airbnb said “guests have always been aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, before booking listings,” and will work with authorities to make it even clearer. (VOA)