The enormity of the Guangdong- Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area project will prove a driving force for China’s economic development, but how will it function effectively? And where will the demand be for legal services? Richard Li reports

There are three top-tier bay areas in the world, namely New York Bay Area, San Francisco Bay Area and Tokyo Bay Area. In future, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area of China (GBA) may dwarf them all. The Outline Development Plan for the Greater Bay Area was published by the central government on 18 February this year, marking the transition of the GBA from conceptual to implementation stage.

According to the GBA Plan, the central government is strategically positioning the area as: a world-class vibrant city cluster; an international centre for scientific and technological innovation with global influence; an important support for development of the Belt and Road initiative; a demonstration area for the deep co-operation between mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau; and a habitable, business-friendly and tourist-friendly high-quality living circle.

Development of the GBA is bound to bring about more opportunities for legal service practitioners. “[Target requirements of the Outline Development Plan on] innovation-driven and harmonious development, and the compliance with rigorous trade and investment rules, as well as arrangements under ‘one country, two systems’, bring about potential important service opportunities for domestic and foreign lawyers,” says Guan Jianjun, managing partner of Grandall Law Firm’s Shanghai office.

GBAMilton Cheng, the managing partner of Baker McKenzie’s Hong Kong office, says that as Hong Kong, Shenzhen and other GBA cities transform into a city cluster, cross-border trade and investments can be expected to rise. This will drive up demand for legal services in M&A, banking and finance, project finance, and real estate.

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