The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area project will drive China’s economic development, but how will it function effectively? And where will the demand be for legal services? Richard Li gets some informed opinions
There are other big bay area developments in the world, but the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area of China (GBA) will dwarf them all.
The GBA’s development plan was released by China’s central government on 18 February, and it strategically positions 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- and tourist-friendly high-quality living circle.
Quite a list, and within it some major 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.
Milton 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.
“Capital markets work is likely to remain strong for law firms as Hong Kong fulfills its role as an international financial centre for two-way cross-border capital flows within the GBA,” says Cheng. “With innovation and technology being another major focus of the GBA development plan, businesses will be looking to their legal advisers for help to ensure that their IP rights are protected and that any commercial disputes can be resolved efficiently and effectively.”