International Transportation Centre
112. In my last Budget, I put forward several measures to develop our air cargo industry. I also indicated that the Government was mapping out strategies to facilitate the development of the maritime industry. We are making good progress in these areas.
113. Hong Kong enjoys the unique advantages of a strategic geographical location, world-class infrastructure, and various inter-modal transportation services. Moreover, the Development Plan has also affirmed the status of the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) as an international aviation hub among the airports in the Greater Bay Area. We will continue to promote the development of high value-added aviation business and enhance our competitiveness.
114. The HKIA is the world's busiest cargo airport and its passenger throughput is also among the highest in the world. The adjacent Lantau Island has become a "double gateway" connecting the world and Greater Bay Area cities upon the commissioning of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB). The Government has invited the Airport Authority Hong Kong to submit a proposal for the topside development at the HZMB Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities Island. It is hoped that the topside development, together with the three-runway system and other development projects and facilities at the Airport Island, will produce synergy and render Lantau an Aerotropolis connecting the Greater Bay Area and the world.
115. In addition, the Government has offered profits tax concessions to aircraft leasing and related businesses. The measure has been well received by the market since its introduction. A number of large-scale aircraft leasing companies have negotiated or reached deals with airlines around the world through Hong Kong.
116. On maritime transport, despite declining container throughput in recent years, we still have considerable advantages in our maritime tradition, geographical location as well as shipping registration, financial and legal services. Hong Kong has a vibrant maritime services cluster, with over 800 maritime companies providing ship agency and management, ship brokering, marine insurance as well as maritime law and arbitration services. Hong Kong is also a ship finance centre in the region. Shipping loans and advances in Hong Kong have more than doubled in the past 10 years. In the face of keen competition, we must leverage our advantages to seize the business opportunities brought by the Greater Bay Area development and the Belt and Road Initiative for the continuous development of high value-added maritime services.
117. Ship leasing is an emerging business model of ship finance. The Government has commissioned the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board to set up a dedicated task force to study tax and other measures, with a view to attracting ship finance companies to establish their presence in Hong Kong and developing Hong Kong as a ship leasing centre in the Asia-Pacific region. The study is expected to be completed in the second half of this year. Moreover, to promote the development of marine insurance so that shipowners and shipping companies can enjoy better support, the Government will offer a 50 per cent profits tax concession to eligible insurance businesses including the marine insurance industry.
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