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Hong Kong: free markets, unique trade access and an enviable location

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Hong Kong is home to a robust and ever-expanding economy.

In 2021, GDP stood at around $367 billion1, and The International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland has recognised Hong Kong’s economy as the second most competitive in Asia – and the seventh in the world2.

Its renowned free trade, free markets, and free enterprise present an abundance of growth and profit opportunities for businesses3 and, as such, the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom named the country the world’s freest economy for more than two decades.

It currently sits at third place in terms of ease of doing business. This reflects the region’s streamlined and time-saving process for establishing a business, which means an organisation can be set up in just 24 hours4.

Location and Talent

Its location in the heart of Asia is another reason that Hong Kong is regarded as one of the best places in the world to do business. Leveraging its leading position as a global financial centre, it is the ideal location for international organisations to set up their regional treasury centres5. The rapid growth and development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) will also continue to create numerous opportunities for those looking to expand their presence in the region and beyond6.

Hong Kong’s labour force is another compelling selling point for those looking to expand into the region. In fact, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report placed Hong Kong in 7th position in terms of the world’s best labour markets7. Impressively, 75% of the population have obtained advanced education.8

Need to Know

Despite the many positive aspects of expanding into Hong Kong, doing so can present some small challenges that will need to be worked around and may require specialist support.

For example, it will be necessary to become familiar with new labour laws, including those around hiring and paying employees as well as regulations around governing and running a business. Navigating tax, legal and regulatory processes, meanwhile, can be difficult for those without a local understanding of these practices.

Hong Kong also tops the list of the most expensive cities for expatriates9, and these costs are reflected in commercial rents, with co-working spaces and virtual offices becoming increasingly popular as a result. Finally, you will need a local account to do business here and may benefit from the help of a trusted partner when it comes to handling the paperwork.

International Subsidiary Banking

When a business is exploring expanding into new regions, working with people who can offer an international approach as well as vast experience with other global businesses is imperative.

HSBC’s International subsidiary banking (ISB) offering can help you to navigate the nuances of regions such as Hong Kong, where the opportunity is vast. Our ISB team is dedicated to supporting our clients in starting and developing their businesses here and enabling them to capture the growth opportunities in the region.

We offer dedicated contacts and extensive, bespoke solutions that deliver cost efficiencies, better use of working capital and reduced risks. We are exceptionally proud of our consistent service and deep local expertise. When dealing with global businesses, we take a global approach. We also provide you with a central technology platform and communicate across our HSBC network to create real-time insights and connections, enabling new opportunities.


HSBC was founded in Hong Kong more than 150 years ago. We have deep roots in the local market, which provides us with unique insights. Our extensive international network covering over 90% of global trade flows complements our local expertise, meaning that we can offer a wide range of products and services that reflect specific market conditions and requirements.

All of this also means that we never evaluate the needs of a subsidiary in a vacuum but are instead able to take a holistic, big picture view. Cross-border banking is an extremely delicate process and requires a unique set of skills – ones that our entire team are well-versed in.

We’re proud to say that Hong Kong boasts HSBC’s largest trade back office. Consequently, we’re able to speak to suppliers across Asia in their local language and in real-time. Our ISB team is diverse and well-rounded, as well as experienced.

Our teams can provide clients with a broad range of products and services to support their expansion into any market. By partnering with HSBC, companies looking to move into this region can lean on us for extensive support.

We can provide a comprehensive structured trade solution and help simplify your operations. We can support you when it comes to securing permits for new premises and help ensure that you comply with regulations that you aren’t used to. We have the experience to help you reduce logistical and supply chain issues, be more responsive to the market and achieve your own business goals. We can also offer oversight on payments across the globe. Like everything we do at HSBC, all of these efforts will be carried out by specialists with vast experience working with multinationals.

Your partner on the road ahead

Hong Kong is an exciting place to do business – with the potential to open up opportunities throughout Asia. Yet, we know first-hand how challenging running a global business is. As your trusted partner, we can help you approach doing business here with confidence.

If you’re looking to expand into new markets, we can help connect you to opportunities and support you every step of the way.

Further insights

US: how to enter the world’s largest and most productive economy

Expanding into the US can be profitable, but it can also be complex, challenging and ever-changing. Our international team is here to help. Find out how in a short article focused on growing in the US market.

Find out more

Contact us to get expert advice and support on growing your business internationally.