SAR has much to gain from Hainan’s free-trade-port drive

-

SAR has much to gain from Hainan’s free-trade-port drive

By Jimmy Lam Pok and Kacee Ting Wong

From the perspective of a pessimist, Hainan’s transformation into a free trade port (FTP) could pose a threat to the leading position of Hong Kong as China’s top free trade port. But from the perspective of an optimist, Hong Kong’s businesses and professionals should embrace the special and preferential policies for Hainan because there is no better time than the present to capture these golden opportunities.

At present, Hong Kong is Hainan’s major investment partner, owning 75.3 percent of the total used foreign direct investment (Giulia Interesse, Investing in Hainan: Industry, Economics and Policy, posted by China Briefing). The Hainan FTP plan deserves our support because the success of the plan will further validate China’s developmental model amid heightened geopolitical competition between China and the US.

2020 was a milestone year for Hainan. Over the years, more than 180 policies and measures on tariff exemptions and trade and investment facilitation have gone into effect to support the development of the Hainan FTP. In the following discussion, the zero-tariff regime and preferential tax policies will come into particular focus because they are conducive to China’s participating in global trade and attracting quality foreign investment.

The zero-tariff regime will be established by 2025 in two stages. In the first stage (pre-2025), certain categories of imports are entitled to zero-tariff treatment to support the development of the tourism, e-commerce and logistics industries in the Hainan FTP. Zero-tariff treatment covers equipment imports by Hainan’s enterprises for their own use (subject to a negative list), and imports of vehicles and vessels used for transportation and tourism in Hainan (with reference to a positive list). Supported by zero-tariff policies, Hainan has the potential to become a yacht trading center in the Asia-Pacific region. Besides, imports of yachts are exempt from the import value-added tax (VAT) and consumption tax (Giulia Interesse, op.cit, p7).

In the second stage (from 2025), a separate tariff regime will be developed for the Hainan FTP, meaning that zero tariffs will apply to a wide range of imports based on a catalog system. Import VAT and consumption tax exclusions may also apply. The zero-tariff regimes aim at reducing Hainan’s dependency on traditional sectors, such as tourism, the oil and petroleum industry, and agriculture and fisheries.

One notable difference between the Hainan FTP and other customs special supervision zones in China is its special import processing policy. Under this, goods can be imported zero-tariff to Hainan, processed in Hainan, and then sold to elsewhere in China at zero-tariff. This provides significant access to the Chinese mainland market and opportunities for supply chain optimization (Bin Yang, Eric Zhou and Nicole Zhang, China’s Hainan Free Trade Port: Introducing an Innovative Tax Regime to Attract Investment, in “KPMG International Tax Review”).

Hong Kong’s businesses and professionals should embrace the special and preferential policies for Hainan because there is no better time than the present to capture these golden opportunities

A key requirement is that the processing conducted in Hainan needs to meet a 30 percent value-added threshold and that a “Hainan origin certificate” is obtained for goods. The above measures will close the floodgates to shell companies wishing to abuse these policies by establishing deceptive footholds in Hainan. Decision-makers harbor great ambitions by relying on these special import processing policies to support the establishment of high-end industries on this tropical island, facilitating Hainan’s integration into the global supply chains.

Preferential tax policies have also come onto the radars of foreign businesses. One of the attractions of the Hainan FTP plan is the low corporate income tax (CIT) and individual income tax (IIT) rates. Unlike China’s average CIT rate of 25 percent, the Hainan FTP offers a reduced 15 percent CIT rate to “encouraged industries” for the period to 2025. “Encouraged industries” that can enjoy the special CIT rate have recently been clarified by China’s Ministry of Finance and State Taxation Administration (KPMG International Tax Regime, ibid).

Unlike China’s average marginal individual income tax (IIT) rate of 45 percent, the Hainan FTP offers a maximum 15 percent IIT rate for income of personnel with high-end and urgently needed skills. From 2025 to 2035, the Hainan FTP will limit the progressive IIT rates on comprehensive income and business income to 3 percent, 10 percent and 15 percent. The Hainan FTP also claims credit for providing IIT incentives that are more preferential than those offered in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in some respects (Giulia Interesse, op.cit, p14).

The willingness of some international brands to establish a foothold in the Hainan FTP has lent credence to the claim that the zero-tariff and preferential tax policies are extremely attractive. That is why jewelry brand De Beers Forevermark only took one month to settle in Hainan. Sotheby’s, General Electric, France’s Kering Group, Singapore’s leading medical group Raffles, Japan’s Lawson and other big companies have also poured investments into Hainan (Hainan: From a Southern Island to a Free Trade Port, in Cision).

Another asset of Hainan is the close personal ties between Hainan and some leading figures of ASEAN states that may help forge stronger economic links between Hainan and these Southeast Asian states. Singapore minister politicians Lawrence Wong, Lee Chiaw Meng, Cedric Foo, Yu-Foo Yee Shoon and Mah Bow Tan can trace their ancestries to Hainan. Lawrence Wong is highly likely to become the next prime minister of Singapore. Yu-Foo Yee Shoon was one of the longest serving female politicians in the city-state. The ninth prime minister of Thailand, Pote Sarasin (from September 1957 to January 1958), can also trace his ancestry to Hainan. The famous Chirathivat family, which owns and manages the Central Group, is a Thai family of Hainanese descent.

We cannot underestimate the economic potential of ASEAN states. Projections show that the ASEAN economy will be larger than that of Japan by 2030 (Kishore Mahbubani, Asia’s Third Way, in Foreign Affairs, March/April 2023). Nor can we underestimate the economic growth engine provided by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) framework. Being the world’s largest free trade agreement, RCEP will spur more significant jumps in economic growth in Hainan.

Hong Kong should not sit on the golden opportunities offered by the Hainan FTP. In addition to the new opportunities offered by the zero-tariff regime and preferential tax policies, Hainan also enjoys a competitive edge in its traditional sectors. Tourism and agriculture are the traditional jewels on the crown of Hainan’s economy. These investment opportunities should not escape the attention of Hong Kong’s investors.

Jimmy Lam Pok is the deputy secretary-general of Kowloon Federation of Associations, and co-director of public policy and district administration of Chinese Dream Think Tank.

Kacee Ting Wong is a barrister, part-time researcher of Shenzhen University Hong Kong and Macao Basic Law Research Center, and chairman of Chinese Dream Think Tank.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
【CDTT Newspaper Article】Jimmy Lam & Kacee Ting:SAR has much to gain from Hainan’s free-trade-port drive (China Daily HK Edition, 15 June 2023)

https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/336010#SAR-has-much-to-gain-from-Hainan%E2%80%99s-free-trade-port-drive

This article is reproduced by Kwun Media with the consent of China Daily.

Chinese Dream Think Tank is a non-profit Hong Kong-based organization working with skilled volunteers, experts and professionals who are passionate about telling the China story well.

中國夢智庫|海南自貿港

海南自由貿易港(HNFTP)的發展一日千里。從負面情緒角度來看,HNFTP必然會對我國最大自由貿易區-香港-的國際經貿領先地位構成威脅;但從樂觀角度出發,本港企業家與專業人士們應接受北京針對海南的特殊與優惠政策,因為香港發展的其中一個黃金最佳機遇窗口期就在當下的海南。目前,香港是海南的主要投資夥伴,佔有海南投資75.3%的外商直接投资。因此,HNFTP建設值得大家支持。有見現時中美地緣政治競爭加劇,HNFTP的成功不但將成為我國的一項重要資產,而且能合理化我國特有的發展模式。

2020年是海南發展的里程碑。多年來,180多項關稅豁免與貿易投資便利政策措施陸續起動支持HNFTP的發展。筆者撰文,特別關注海南零關稅制度與稅收優惠政策,這些利商措施將有利於我國參與全球貿易和吸引高品質外國投資的目標。

到2025年,零關稅制度將分兩個階段完成。第一,2025年之前部分類別的進口商品享有零關稅待遇,以支持HNFTP的旅遊、電子商務與物流業發展。零關稅待遇包括海南企業的自用設備進口(除列入負面清單項目外)與海南運輸旅遊用車輛、船舶進口(包含在正面清單內)。在零關稅政策的支持下,海南很有潛力成為亞太地區的遊艇交易中心。此外,進口遊艇免征進口增值稅與消費稅一律減免(註2)。

第二,從2025年起,HNFTP將制定一個獨立關稅體系,這意味著零關稅將根據目錄系統,適用於各種進口商品。進口增值稅與消費稅豁免也將全面展開。大家注意,零關稅制度旨在減少海南對傳統部門,如旅遊業、石油石化工業、農業與漁業的依賴。

HNFTP有別於我國其他實施特別窗口監管地區的一個亮點是海南特殊的進口處理政策。在HNFTP內,貨物可以經零關稅通道進口海南,經加工後以零關稅方式銷往我國全國各地。這為進入我國的龐大市場提供一個重要機會與供應鏈優化窗口(註3)。

第二個亮點是「海南原產地證書」簽發要求。在海南境內進行的加工商品需要達到30%的增值目標門檻才有資格申請。此措施將為實業注入創利空間,杜絕欺騙性皮包公司。北京的決策者們心懷雄心壯志,通過實施相關特殊進口物品本地加工創利政策,支持海南—我國的熱帶寶島—建立高端產業,促進融入全球供應鏈的步伐。

稅收優惠政策不限於本國企業。外國企業如在HNFTP內進行商業活動成為「鼓勵行業」,可享有低於我國平均25%的「企業所得稅」(CIP),減至15%至2025年。最近,我國財政部與國家稅務總局已同意「鼓勵行業」的15%CIP安排(註4)。

我國一般的個人所得稅(IIT)稅是45%。HNFTP為高端與稀缺技能人員的收入提供了最高至15%的IIT。2025至2035,HNFTP將綜合各人收入、運營收入與商業累進稅率限制在3%、10%
15%。HNFTP在IIT所創的亮點在於她在某些方面提供的優惠個人所得稅激勵措施比大灣區來得更多(註5)。

一些國際品牌願意在HNFTP落地生根證明了零關稅與稅收優惠政策是極具吸引力的優質政策。難怪國際珠寶品牌戴「比爾斯美鑽」在一個月內不但落戶HNFTP,而且還發了芽。世界頂級拍賣公司「蘇富比」、美國「通用電氣」、法國「開雲集團」、新加坡行業領先醫療集團「萊佛士」、日本「羅森」與其他各國世界級大公司,那個不是直了眼死盯著海南,向投資HNFTP下重藥(註6)。
海南的另一個無型資產是東盟各國的領袖們對海南的密切情意結聯繫。新加坡部長政治家黃循財、李昭铭、符致镜、符喜泉與馬寶山祖先的根都在海南省。大家注意,黃循財先生很有可能成為下一任新加坡總理。符喜泉女士是新加坡任職時間最長的女性政治家之一(註7)。泰國第9任總理波特·沙拉辛(Pote Sarasin)(1957年9月至1958年1月)的祖先也可以追溯到海南(註9)。擁有與掌控「尚泰集團」的著名「泰國郑氏家族」命脈也是源於海南省(註10)。這許許多多的血濃於水式情意結有助海南與東南亞烈國之間建立更緊密經濟聯繫。

大家不要再看不起東盟各國的經濟潛力。預測顯示,至2030年東盟經濟總體規模將彎道超車超過日本(註11)。大家更應該注意「區域全面經濟夥伴協定」(註12)關係框架(RCEP)。它將為東盟經濟整體提供長征運載火箭式推力。作為世界上最大的自由貿易協定,RCEP將為海南經濟增長更大躍進注入一支強心針。

香港人不要再閒坐在兩手喝著茶,怨天尤人了。HNFTP是北京打造的另一個聚寶盆。除了零關稅制度與稅收優惠政策帶來的新機遇外,海南在傳統領域也享有競爭優勢。旅遊業與農業是海南手中捧的經濟明珠。別人死盯著的也應該是香港大班們要的。

事實與資料來源已核查
註 1: Giulia Interesse「Investing in Hainan: Industry, Economics and Policy
in China Briefing 18.11.2022 available at: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/investing-in-hainan-industry-economics-and-policy/
註 2: 同前
註 3: 註 3: Bin Yang, Eric Zhou and Nicole Zhang「China’s Hainan Free Trade Port: introducing an innovative tax regime to attract investment
in KPMG International Tax Review 07.09.2020 available at: https://www.internationaltaxreview.com/article/2a6a6mt28fn53vfhm991c/chinas-hainan-free-trade-port-introducing-an-innovative-tax-regime-to-attract-investment
註 4: 同前
註 5: 同上,註 1
註 6: Cision「Hainan: From a southern island to a free trade port
in Cision 13.04.2023 available at: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hainan-from-a-southern-island-to-a-free-trade-port-301796647.html
註 7: 維基百科「海南人」available at: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hainan_people
註 8: 同前
註 9: 維基百科「波特·沙拉辛」
available at: https://baike.baidu.com/item/波特·沙拉辛/6948912
註 10: WIKIPEDIA「Chirathivat Family
available at: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chirathivat_family
註 11: Kishore Mahbubani「Asian Third Way
in Foreign Affairs Vol. 102 No. 2 March/April 2023 at p 132 available at: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/southeast-asia/asias-third-way-asean-amid-great-power-competition
註 12: 維基百科「區域全面經濟夥伴協定」available at: https://zh.m.wikipedia.org/zh-hk/%E5%8C%BA%E5%9F%9F%E5%85%A8%E9%9D%A2%E7%BB%8F%E6%B5%8E%E4%BC%99%E4%BC%B4%E5%85%B3%E7%B3%BB%E5%8D%8F%E5%AE%9A

文:林博
《中國夢智庫》政策與地區事務聯合總監
九龍社團聯會副秘書長
中國人民政治協商會議海南省委員

文:丁煌
深圳大學基本法研究中心兼職研究員
經民聯港島支部主席,「中國夢智庫」主席
國際公益法律服務協會顧問委員會成員
香港法學交流基金會副主席
全國港澳研究會會員

《中國夢智庫》是一間扎根特區的非牟利團體;與心存熱誠的資深義工、專家與職業專業人士們合作,攜手「說好中國故事」。

*作者文章觀點,不代表《觀新聞》立場