Hong Kong is well known as a highly competitive global city and a leading international financial centre. We achieved flying colours in a number of international rankings. Just to name a few, Hong Kong ranked:
- First in the 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual guide published by The Heritage Foundation;
- Fourth in the 2016 Global Financial Centres Index published by Z/Yen Group, which measured the competitiveness of the world financial centres;
- Second in the 2015 Global Opportunity Index published by Milken Institute;
- Fifth easiest place in the world to do business according to the Doing Business Report 2016 published by the World Bank; and
- Ninth in overall competitiveness in the Global Competitiveness Report 2016–2017 published by World Economic Forum.
In these rankings, Hong Kong has consistently demonstrated distinctive strengths in category indexes like the Rule of Law, infrastructure development, business environment and financial market access.
Without the pool of talent available in Hong Kong, these outstanding achievements would not have been possible. We are proud to have a legal profession that fearlessly safeguards the Rule of Law by ensuring the fair, just and transparent administration of the legal and judicial systems in Hong Kong. In addition, our lawyers are well experienced and skilled in a diverse range of legal services that meet the needs of domestic and international clients.
Hong Kong’s outstanding capabilities are well known but not as widely as we would like, in particular to the jurisdictions along the Belt and Road.
Incidentally, we no longer refer to the Initiative as “One Belt, One Road” because it does not involve only one route. Broadly, “Belt” (ie, the Silk Road Economic Belt) aims to bring together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe (the Baltic); link China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia; and connect China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. “Road” (ie, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road) will stretch on one hand from China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean and on the other, from China’s coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific. These routes cover some 65 countries, all of which are keen to boost trade and infrastructural connectivity.
This economic vision opens up opportunities for our legal profession for generations to come. While polishing our own skills to meet the future demands, we must also promote our strengths so that clients and legal professionals in jurisdictions that have relatively fewer dealings with Hong Kong lawyers in the past will get to know our expertise and competitive edge.
The Law Society’s Belt and Road Conference on 12 May 2017 is organised to accomplish both ends. Not only do we have a diversified programme covering a wide range of legal issues that are relevant to cross border transactions and dispute resolution, we have invited speakers and participants from different parts of the world, mostly from the countries along the Belt and Road to join us. Participants can have the opportunity to enhance and update their legal knowledge and skills as well as connect and make themselves known to their counterparts in the Belt and Road jurisdictions.
Some may view their active participation in the Belt and Road Initiative as remote at present. Nevertheless, going forward, the vast scale of this significant national Initiative is going to dictate a large portion of the legal service demands in the region for decades.
As a member of the Hong Kong legal profession, we owe it to our successors to do our best to lay a solid foundation for them to take advantage of the Initiative when the time comes. We need to mobilise everyone to encourage each other to take an active interest in the demands of legal services that will be generated by the Initiative, to take concrete steps to enhance the needed skills and to act as ambassadors of the Hong Kong legal profession to promote and showcase our strengths whenever an opportunity arises.
The Belt and Road Conference on 12 May presents such an opportunity to fulfil these goals. It is an occasion where the Law Society, acting as “Convenor” of legal professionals in the Belt and Road jurisdictions, brings the relevant stakeholders together, encourages exchanges of ideas and knowledge and creates a platform for our profession to showcase our strengths and to impress the world with our best practices at top international standards.
This cannot be achieved without the support of our members. Please join us at the Conference on 12 May. The programme which is accredited with 5 CPD points, sponsorship opportunities and registration details are available at the Conference’s official website at hklawsoc-beltandroad.com.