Law makers believe that Hong Kong has the infrastructure, the transparent legal and regulatory surroundings, and the market depth to play a part in these areas for the advantage of the entire Mainland economy. They also reported that the window of opportunity will not stand the test of time. If sufficient steps are not taken now, inertia will set in, and the business will gravitate to popular financial centers overseas.

The report offered a five-pronged strategy to bring forth the nation's economic development and financial reform in a more noteworthy manner. It comprises enhancing the presence of Hong Kong financial intermediaries in the Mainland to deliver financial services on location, and improving the outward mobility of Mainland investors, fund raisers and financial intermediaries.

It also comprises permitting financial instruments issued in Hong Kong to be marketed in the Mainland, bettering the capability of Hong Kong's financial system in dealing with financial transactions denominated in renminbi, and intensifying financial infrastructure linkages between the Mainland and Hong Kong.

As an international financial center, steps should be taken to make it more comfortable for overseas issuers to list in Hong Kong. Commitment should also be shown in realizing a more flexible regulatory and operational infrastructure for local, Mainland and overseas financial intermediaries and investors. On the establishment of a renminbi futures and options market, the report proposed strengthening Hong Kong's lead in offshore renminbi, and widening the range of non-deliverable renminbi products. The lawmakers also pointed out that China is one of the world's largest consumers and suppliers of commodities, precious metals and other raw materials.

There is an increasing requirement for effective price discovery within its time zone. As a first step, it is proposed that an independent consultancy study be commissioned with an intention to making concrete proposals for developing a commodities futures market in Hong Kong. Another notable recommendation was to develop an efficient insurance market and asset management sector. These are adequate for effective risk management, financial intermediation, and wealth preservation within the Mainland.

There was also a proposal that Hong Kong amplify itself as a center for international captive insurance, widen the opportunities for Hong Kong residents to become Mainland insurance practitioners, and fuel the further growth of the asset-management industry.

A study published recently by Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) reveals opportunities galore for financial institutions to benefit from Hong Kong's unique position vis-a-vis the Chinese mainland. According to the report, a total of over 570,000 private enterprises launched in the mainland during 2003, or close to 1,500 enterprises set up per day.

Mainland enterprises require a huge amount of capital (foreign and domestic) and financial services to realize their hope for expansion. But financial markets in the mainland are not efficient enough to meet their rising demand, the report explained.

The report says Hong Kong can satisfy most of mainland enterprises ' financial needs, comprising most importantly delivering state-owned and private enterprises and high-tech companies with funds and liquidity. Hong Kong is widely regarded as a fund-raising center for firms having functions in the region. Enhancing the status of Hong Kong as global financial hub of China is extremely necessary in the present circumstances. This will help the mainland enterprises to succeed in their ventures.

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