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Greater Bay Area to foster regional integration

By Yang Han in Boao, Hainan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-29


The Zhuhai section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in Guangdong province. [Photo by Zhang Youqiong/For China Daily]

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will foster closer collaboration and integration within the region, an industry official said.

Vincent Lo Hong-sui, chairman of the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, said: "It (the GBA) is a key concept of making the members of the region closer."

According to Lo, the region's current GDP is about $1.5 trillion, equivalent to that of South Korea.

"Hong Kong has a full agenda (for its development) and we need to upgrade our own economy, not just simply focus on finance or real estate. We (HK) need to play an integrated role," said Lo, who is also the chairman of Hong Kong-based Shui On Group.

"Hong Kong has never been strong in technology, but we do have some advantages that can work with the ecosystem, such as with cities like Shenzhen in commercializing the technologies."

Lo was speaking on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2019 this week in South China's Hainan province. The topic of the panel session was Dialogue with Thinkers: Innovation and Openness - New Vitality of Asian Economies.

Digital technologies promote integration and cooperation in Asia, said Khor Hoe Ee, chief economist of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office. "Technology is connectivity. The more connectivity we (Asia) have, the more benefits will be generated and the more synergy we will have," he said.

The ASEAN+3 comprises the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and China, Japan and South Korea. The 10 member states of ASEAN are Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.

Asia will continue to integrate, Khor added, noting the global challenge of protectionism. He said the rules of the game must be reset for countries from different regions to work together in the name of multilateralism.

Echoing Khor's view, Diwakar Gupta, vice-president for private sector and cofinancing operations at the Asian Development Bank, said multilateral collaboration is important for the region. "Collaboration, in the end, will not be harmful," he said, calling on countries to work together to create "a bigger pie".

But as technology will lead to job displacement, Gupta said governments and companies should think about the redistribution of profits for the public good.

Jenny Shipley, former prime minister of New Zealand, noted the challenges of public policy in the age of 5G technology. "We need to ... get past the anxiety of suspicion and get the evidence, so that the government can confidently evaluate the innovation and make decisions," she said.

Carlos Gutierrez, chairman of Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategic advisory firm, said competition in the field of new digital technologies like 5G should be about companies versus companies, instead of governments against governments.

"It should be a commercial advantage for companies, and this is how business works," said Gutierrez, a former secretary of commerce of the United States. "The technology is going to be made by companies, whether public or private, but not governments."