By Pratyaksh Arneja
Hong Kong has successfully posted a substantial 40% increase in trade with India for the first half of 2017. Valued at $18.3 billion, the bilateral trade between the two countries has been on an upward trajectory since the last few years. India’s total trade with Hong Kong was $26.85 billion in 2016. This means that the first half of the trade in 2017 has already accounted for 68.2% of 2016’s entire trade.
According to the data provided by the Consulate General of India, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones, electrical machinery, cotton, meat, and organic chemicals make up for the primary Indian exports to Hong Kong.
Need for an economic allegiance
While New Delhi might have its fair share of political differences with Beijing, a possibility for the Indian market to further grow in the former British colony should not be ruled out. For two countries which advocate for relatively open markets and emphasize the need for economic alliances, it is indispensable to discuss how they can capitalise on this bilateral partnership in sectors such as tourism, education and immigration, and banking.
Considering Hong Kong’s trade with other financial hubs; the likes of which include the United States and China, it is striking that its trade with India has been the highest recorded growth rate for this year. While the United States recorded a growth of 2.8% of trade with Hong Kong, China posted an 8% rise for the same.
Factors favouring this partnership
In order to understand India’s foothold in the aforesaid sectors, it is crucial to analyse the underpinnings of Hong Kong’s economy. Firstly, its economy is highly dependent on trade with the rest of the world. Secondly, since it is not known for its manufacturing prowess, the service sector continues to be very important for the Hong Kong economy. For that reason, India must bank upon human resources as opposed to relying on exporting goods more than anything else.
More often than not, tourism, as a sector goes unnoticed. It can render other industries, like aviation and hospitality useful. Hong Kong is already a notable destination for Indian tourists, with over 500,000 Indians visitors annually. Both Air India and Cathay Pacific have an incentive to increase the number of flights and places they offer. Furthermore, Air India even maintains a regional office in Hong Kong.
Need to loosen immigration restrictions
As far as education and immigration are concerned, Hong Kong is becoming a higher education powerhouse for Indian students in courses such as engineering, computer science, management, and so forth. On the one hand, Indian students have a huge professional capacity to fulfil high-expertise jobs in IT or financial sector(s), and Hong Kong’s institutions’ create sufficient supply of workers in order to supplant their industries.
Of course, the only thing that has to be altered is the provision of long-term permits/working visa for Indian students. This is when the role of higher education and immigration are interdependent. If a student manages to gain certain professional competency, there is no reason why Hong Kong should close its door to high-skilled immigration.
In the past, significant strides have been made when it comes to information sharing, trade and commerce, financial services, and cultural exchange between the two countries. As long as India and Hong Kong manage to have each other’s unwavering economic support, the pearl of the orient will continue to stay intact.
Featured Image Source: Visual Hunt
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