Budget Speech

Business and Professional Services

108.    The Government is committed to expanding its network of Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs).  At present, we have 12 overseas ETOs.  To enhance trade relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), open up the emerging opportunities there, as well as actively participate in and support the Belt and Road Initiative, the Chief Executive announced that an ETO would be set up in Thailand.  We are in close liaison with the Thai government to this end.  Regarding our proposal to set up new ETOs in countries including Korea, India, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, we are actively following up with the governments concerned.

109.    The Government has launched the Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme to provide funding support for business and professional organisations, thereby facilitating external promotion and enhancement of Hong Kong's professional services.  I encourage the professional services sector to work with other sectors in applying for funding and exploring new business opportunities.

Support for Small and Medium Enterprises

110.    Hong Kong is home to about 330 000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), accounting for over 98 per cent of the total number of local enterprises.  To help SMEs, including start-ups, grasp economic opportunities and boost their competitiveness, I will enhance the current funding schemes as follows:

(a) injecting $1.5 billion into the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales (BUD Fund);
(b) injecting $1 billion into the SME Export Marketing and Development Funds;
(c) extending the geographical scope of the Enterprise Support Programme under the BUD Fund from the Mainland to include the ASEAN countries.  The respective cumulative funding ceiling for enterprises undertaking projects in the Mainland and ASEAN markets will be $1 million;
(d) increasing the cumulative funding ceiling for enterprises under the SME Export Marketing Fund from $200,000 to $400,000, and removing the existing condition on the use of the last $50,000 of grants;
(e) extending the application period for the special concessionary measures under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme to 28 February 2019; and
(f) in the five financial years from 2018-19, providing a total of $250 million additional funding to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) for assisting local enterprises (SMEs in particular) in seizing opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative and the Bay Area development, promoting the development of e-commerce, and enhancing Hong Kong's role as a premier international convention, exhibition and sourcing centre.

External Promotion

111.    The Information Services Department, our ETOs overseas and in the Mainland, InvestHK and the HKTDC will strengthen collaboration and take a more proactive approach in promoting our advantages overseas and attracting investments to Hong Kong.



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