The Hong Kong government will adopt various measures, including tax reliefs to promote the development of marine insurance and the underwriting of specialty risks in the territory so as to strengthen HongKong's status as an international insurance hub.
This was announced by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam in the annual policy address delivered yesterday.
She also said: “In addition, the government will make relevant legislative amendments to allow for the formation of special purpose vehicles in Hong Kong specifically for issuing insurance-linked securities with a view to enriching the risk management tools available in the Hong Kong market. I expect the Insurance Authority to make further proposals to promote the competitiveness of Hong Kong’s insurance industry.”
Sounding out the potential for growth of the insurance sector, she pointed out that China's Belt & Road Initiative facilitates the development of infrastructure and trade in countries along its route. The initiative generates demand for insurance and risk management services for large-scale infrastructure and investment projects.
With a mature insurance market and a robust regulatory regime, Hong Kong is well positioned to provide quality services for these projects. Meanwhile, the development of the Greater Bay Area in the Pearl River Delta, of which Hong Kong is a part, spurs the flow of production factors, consolidates Hong Kong’s advantages in the financial market and supports the growth of the real economy in the region, giving a fresh impetus to the insurance sector, she said.
She also said that the B&R Initiative and the Greater Bay Area development would contribute to the development of high value-added maritime services in Hong Kong.
Apart from promoting marine and specialty insurance, she announced measures to be taken by the government to support and enhance the development of high value-added maritime services, that would in turn boost insurance business:
- using tax measures to foster ship leasing business in Hong Kong and commissioning the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board to set up a task force to devise the details, with a view to enhancing Hong Kong’s position as a ship leasing centre in the Asia-Pacific region;
- streamlining regulations with a view to facilitating the operation of protection and indemnity club for shipowners in Hong Kong;
- offering the necessary facilitation and measures in support of Hong Kong’s provision of reliable and quality dispute resolution services for the global maritime industry;
- setting up Regional Desks of the Hong Kong Ship Register (HKSR) in selected economic and trade offices, mainland offices and liaison units to render more direct and prompt support to shipowners at the ports concerned and to promote the HKSR;
- injecting HK$200m ($25.5m) into the Maritime and Aviation Training Fund to enhance the training and nurturing of talent for the sectors;
- further expanding the territory's Comprehensive Double Taxation Agreement network to attract more international marine and maritime service providers to set up offices in Hong Kong; and
- working with the trades to jointly promote maritime and port services to overseas and local stakeholders and encourage more companies and individuals to seize the business and job opportunities of the relevant industries.
She said that the maritime sector had suggested that the government consider implementing additional measures to encourage more commercial principals of the maritime industry (such as shipowners, ship operators and ship managers) to base their operations in Hong Kong.
She said, “Given that the commercial principals are involved in a wide range of businesses, we need to further examine the proposal.”