The gateway to China remains open for business

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Hong Kong continues to act as a gateway to China, and will remain so in the coming years says Laura Crow, managing director – China at Tigers.

She says that Hong Kong offers flexible cross border solutions for China and the APAC region, with key commodities for Tiger including garments, shoes, electronics and accessories, and cosmetics.

Crow adds that globalisation is shaping demand with UK branded perishables being routinely sold in Hong Kong supermarkets, with daily arrivals from London’s Heathrow Airport.

This year has started off slowly, with rates softening post-Christmas and staying low during the first quarter.

Crow says: “A strong peak particularly into the US has reduced demand for the early part of 2019, and we are anticipating an uplift in volume into Europe towards the end of March, pre-Brexit. That said, the market is still cold and rates are low.”

She adds: “Our customers continue to face rising costs and export orders are on par with 2018. A turndown in the market, plus changes in policy in China, are pushing Chinese manufactures to move to the Midwest China and Southeast Asia.”

US-China trade tensions have had an impact on Hong Kong-based Tigers, though Crow says it was not significant. Cargo is still moving, she says, though order flows were affected by customers bringing orders forward before December, impacting first quarter demand.

Crow says: “There is uncertainty in the international market causing our customers to delay investment decisions, particularly in China. Apparel and footwear buyers are increasingly looking at ASEAN and Indian Sub for product selection, but for automotive and high tech industries it will take some time to establish manufacturing and upskill the labour force, and our customers recognise this.”

However global issues such as the US-China trade tensions develop, Crow says Hong Kong will continue to play an important role in China, and Tigers will continue to invest in facilities, technology and people.

Crow comments: “Hong Kong will continue to offer a low risk solution to customers looking to trade in China and those looking for a hub for global fulfilment for B2C solutions, particularly where air freight and parcel solutions are required.”

Projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and High Speed Rail connection with the mainland is bringing Hong Kong closer to China and help logistics evolve across the Pearl River Delta.

Crow says: “Within China there is the desire to make international trade less complex and there is significant investment in facilities and infrastructure. Whilst the cost of rent and labour continues to rise in Hong Kong, Hong Kong will continue to play an important role for high value, high touch customers.”