H.K. to accept investment immigration from July

HONG KONG, March 11 Kyodo

Hong Kong will launch a new investment immigration scheme in the third quarter of this year to give residency to foreign nationals and people from Macao and Taiwan who can invest at least HK$6.5 million (about US$834,000) in the city, the government said Tuesday.

The territory, meanwhile, will also relax admission requirements for mainland Chinese talents and professionals from various fields to work here from July, the government said.

”The two schemes are aimed at attracting the inflow of capital and facilitating local firms to tap on the expertise of mainland professionals to develop their businesses,” Secretary for Security Regina Ip told a press conference.

The government hopes the investment immigration scheme will lure more capital from foreign investors, especially from Southeast Asia and South Asia, to the city, Ip said.

It is believed that investors from Taiwan, the United States, Britain, Japan and India will also be interested in the program as many business people from these places are now running businesses in Hong Kong, she said.

Chinese nationals and stateless persons with permanent resident status in a foreign country are also welcomed under the scheme.

But mainland Chinese residents will not be accepted at the present stage due to China’s control on foreign exchange, Ip said.

The initiative, in fact, was announced late last month in a report on population policy aimed at upgrading the quality of the city’s demographic profile and sustaining its economic growth amid challenges of an aging population, shrinking workforce, increasing number of low-skilled immigrants from mainland China, and global economic competition.

Under the investment immigration program, an applicant will have to put at least HK$6.5 million in a specified list of permissible investment assets, such as real estate, equities, debt securities, certificates of deposit, subordinated debt, approved unit trusts or mutual funds. But the investor does not have to run a business themselves.

”We will ring-fence the new investment they bring so as to ensure that they bring benefits to local financial and economic activities,” Ip said.

The applicants will neither be allowed to cash in any capital appreciation of their investment portfolios, nor have to top up the value if their portfolios fall below the original level of HK$6.5 million.

However, investors can switch their investments from one permissible asset class to another, she said.

Successful applicants can bring in their dependents, and they may apply for the right of abode in Hong Kong after seven years of continuous stay here, Ip said.

The government declined to predict how many investors would apply under this scheme, but Ip said Hong Kong is attractive because of its low tax rate, safe environment and flexibility in investment vehicles.

On the admission program for mainland Chinese talents and professionals, Ip said the government will relax the conditions for allowing mainland residents to work here in line with those applicable to foreign nationals.

There will be no more restriction on the industry and the quota for mainland Chinese residents to apply for entry as long as they have good educational backgrounds, confirmed offers of employment and remuneration packages at the prevailing market level, Ip said.

”Apart from professionals in the commercial and financial fields, the scheme would also cater for the entry of talents and professionals in the arts, culture and sports sectors as well as those in the culinary profession. The admission of these persons will enhance Hong Kong’s status as an Asian world city,” Ip said.

Successful applicants will be allowed to bring their spouses and unmarried dependent children aged below 21 to Hong Kong, she added.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Kyodo News International, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

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