Interview – Hong Kong Council to Issue Green Finance Proposals Next Week

An advisory council to the Hong Kong government will unveil a series of recommendations to attract green finance investments to the city next week, the chairman of the council told Reuters.

"Green finance is absolutely new in Hong Kong and I think not many people are doing it in Asia and that is why we feel we should seize the opportunity," said Laura Cha, chairman of Hong Kong's Financial Services Development Council (“FSDC”).

China has vowed to make "green finance" a top priority of the Group of 20 nations as chair of the group this year.

The country needs at least 2 trillion yuan ($305.6 billion) a year over the next five years in green investments to promote environmentally-friendly investments and reduce the effects of pollution from its rapid industrial growth over the past three decades. 

"China is on the chair of G20 and they are very keen on green finance among other things. The September summit under G20, you would expect some action," she said, adding the recommendations will likely be published on 24 May.

The FSDC, whose members include asset managers, banks, securities firms, consultancies and law firms, is also considering forming a group to discuss recommendations to develop the city's financial technology, or fintech, industry as it grows in importance, Cha said.

Unlike China or India, where a large portion of the population remains without access to bank accounts or financial services, Hong Kong is a mature market that is "well served," so fintech rules in the city would have to consider that, she said.

"We are absolutely not moving fast enough" on fintech, Cha added. "This is an area of development that is a very key element of the financial industry that we cannot ignore."

The FSDC was set up by Hong Kong's government in 2013 to examine how the city could maintain its status as a major Asian financial hub amid competition from regional rivals. It has issued recommendations to bolster the city's position as an international centre for trading of China's currency, lure more initial public offerings and real estate investment trusts (“REITs”), among others.


Elzio Barreto is a Reuters correspondent in Hong Kong.