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Hong Kong Overview

Hong Kong is a well-respected jurisdiction, ideally positioned at the center of rapidly developing East Asia. The region was established as a British colony in 1841 and was reverted to Chinese sovereignty on 1 July 1997, under the terms of the Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong,1984. At that time, Hong Kong became a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), retaining its current economic, social, and legal system for a minimum period of 50 years after 1 July 1997. Since the transition, Hong Kong has continued to run its own affairs with complete autonomy.

Hong Kong was ranked 1st by the Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, making it the is the world's freest economy. Hong Kong is also a major international financial center, with a large representation of banks, insurance companies, merchant banks, fund managers, venture capital companies, and other financial intermediaries. It has a world-class infrastructure and an excellent communications system.

The legal system in Hong Kong is based on English common law and an increasingly comprehensive body of statutory law passed by the local legislature. The language of the law and largely of business is English. The local language is the Cantonese dialect, and Mandarin is increasingly spoken in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government has generally adopted a policy of 'maximum support and minimum intervention' and provides the most business-friendly conditions possible, including the rule of law, personal liberty, and a clean and efficient administration. Also, Hong Kong has signed a bilateral free trade agreement known as the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Some of the many advantages of Hong Kong include:

  • Economic and political stability, strategic location, and a major financial and trading center
  • Well-established legal system, based on the English common law and transparent regulations
  • Premier gateway for trade and investment into and out of mainland China
  • Freest economy in the world
  • No restrictions on capital flows into and out of Hong Kong
  • Convertible and stable currency, linked to the USA dollar
  • A global communications hub, with excellent communications infrastructure
  • World-class international airport and the world's busiest container port

Taxation in Hong Kong is based on a territorial source principle. Hong Kong companies only pay tax on profits sourced in Hong Kong, and the rate of taxation currently is 17.5% on assessable profits. There are no withholding taxes on dividends or interest and no taxes on capital gains. However, withholding tax on royalties does apply, currently at 5.25%, and is only imposed on royalties paid to non-resident recipients not related to the payers. If they are related parties, then a tax rate of 16.5% is applicable.

Hong Kong companies are ideal vehicles for international trading or consulting activities that do not have links in Hong Kong. These businesses can therefore be conducted free of tax. The same is true for companies that hold real estate that is located outside Hong Kong. There is no capital gains tax, and dividends received or distributed by a Hong Kong company are also tax-free. Even the standard rate of profits tax applicable to Hong-Kong-sourced income is very competitive, at 16.5%.

Henley & Partners’ services in Hong Kong

No matter how complex your needs may be, Henley & Partners Hong Kong Ltd. and the global network of the firm will be able to advise and assist you.

The specialized services of Henley & Partners are a resource and complement to major law and consulting firms. We help other firms and their clients with the unique requirements for incorporation and proper management of Hong Kong companies, as well as provide all necessary related business services.

We provide all our clients with individual advice and comprehensive yet cost-effective solutions. Please contact us if you would like to receive more information or arrange a private consultation with one of our client advisors.