Tokyo more aggressive than Seoul in attracting HK firms

24-Jun-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Tokyo is ramping up efforts to raise its profile as Asia’s leading financial hub by attracting financial firms and experts leaving Hong Kong amid growing uncertainties and the deepening feud between the US and China.

This is in contrast to Seoul which has remained cautious about capitalising on an escalating political feud there to become the premier financial hub in Asia, according to media reports and sources, Tuesday.

While both the central and Seoul city governments have apparently avoided mentioning Hong Kong people’s massive protests against Beijing’s promulgation of a national security law, Tokyo has not hesitated to speak out, suggesting the country would open its doors to Hong Kong experts in finance and other specialised fields.

The Nikkei reported June 11 that Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said his country would welcome talented foreigners with specialised and technical abilities, including those from Hong Kong.

“It is important for Tokyo to remain an attractive place to do business by the finance industry, and to continue developing as an international city that brings together people, information and money from around the world,” he said in response to a question from former cabinet minister Satsuki Katayama. “In order for it to become a financial centre, we need to bring in more talent.”

Japan will likely disclose more specific measures, which may include visa waivers, tax advice and free office spaces, when announcing its annual economic strategy in July, according to the Financial Times.

In contrast, Korea has yet to officially announce any plans to attract global financial firms exiting Hong Kong, except those put forward by the Busan Metropolitan government which declared it would seek to attract multinational banks, asset management companies and venture capital firms leaving the region.

A global financial centers index that a London-based commercial think tank Z/Yen announced to measure the competitiveness of financial centers worldwide showed Seoul ranked fifth in a list of 15 financial centers that will likely become more significant, beating out Hong Kong, placed ninth, and Tokyo, 15th.

However, a source close to the Seoul Metropolitan government said the city government is taking a cautious approach toward Hong Kong affairs to prevent the international community having a negative perspective on its attempt to become the region’s leading financial hub.

The source said the city government has sought to attract foreign financial firms without emphasising their nationality and locations.

Likewise, the central government has also been careful about commenting on Hong Kong.

Unlike the Japanese prime minister who has openly shown his concern about the situation in Hong Kong and tried to take the lead within the G7 to release a statement about affairs based on the principle of “one country, two systems,” both President Moon Jae-in and Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon have been silent on the issue.

Against this backdrop, experts here advised the central and city governments to take more aggressive actions to attract businesses leaving Hong Kong to achieve its 17-year old goal of becoming Asia’s leading financial hub.

“Korea should capitalise on the Hong Kong unrest to strengthen its function as a financial hub,” said Korea centre for International Finance emerging economies department head Lee Chi-hoon. “Unlike stock and foreign exchange markets, Korea’s bond market can have a competitive edge as its size and investment demand is large, compared to that of Hong Kong.”


Category: Korea

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