Hong Kong


1. Trade Services

Hong Kong has become the world’s eighth largest trading economy calculated in terms of total value of trade undertaken. Hong Kong is the seventh biggest importer of goods and the ninth biggest exporter. This is an astonishing achievement for a territory with a population of only 7 million. Because of Hong Kong’s pre-eminent position in world trade, ST(HK) has naturally specialised in the setting up of offshore and Hong Kong companies for trading purposes. Our services include originating letters of credit, transfer of letters of credit, the preparation of invoices, full trade management and documentary trade services. In short we can manage every aspect of a trading operation.

2. Business Startup & Immigration to Hong Kong

We specialise in the setting up and management of Hong Kong businesses. We are able to incorporate Hong Kong companies speedily and efficiently and make residency applications on behalf of key personnel who wish to relocate to Hong Kong. This is normally achieved by showing that the relevant personnel is crucial to the operations of the business and has skills which cannot be found locally. It would also be necessary to show that the company has sufficient resources and business contacts to enable it to support the relocated personnel and to ensure the success of the business. It is important to show that once the emigrants have arrived in Hong Kong they will not become a burden on the jurisdiction. To achieve this it is normally recommended that the new business be capitalised to the amount of US$100,000 per employee to be relocated. The capital could be provided in cash or kind and it would also be necessary to present a business plan which illustrates that the business will be successful. It is of great assistance to such applications if it can also be shown that local employment will be created. We are able to handle all matters in relation to the setting up of the new business and the application to the immigration authorities.

3. Hong Kong Bank Accounts

As well as being a major trading centre Hong Kong is also one of the world’s major financial centres and the expertise of the banks reflects this. The Hong Kong banking system is amongst the most efficient in the world and Hong Kong banks are particularly well geared up to process letters of credit and import/export documentation and also to open accounts through which stocks and shares can be traded on the world’s major stock exchanges. Our excellent connections with the banking community mean that we are well placed to make suitable bank introductions.

4. Pre-Immigration Tax Planning

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s many Hong Kong based persons sought to migrate to foreign countries ahead of the 1997 takeover. As a result we have developed expertise in settling offshore trusts and company structures designed to minimise tax payable on arrival in the new country of residence and give protection to capital assets.

5. Second Nationalities & Permanent Residencies

For the reasons stated above we are also frequently asked to advise clients on how to take out a second nationality or obtain a right of residence in another country. As a result, we advise upon immigration programmes run out of Belize, Dominica, Ireland, UK, Canada, USA, Turks & Caicos Islands etc. Some of the available schemes allow the applicant to obtain an immediate second citizenship and passport for a relatively modest investment of around US$50,000. Others require greater levels of investment and a substantive period of residence before nationality can be applied for.

6. Hong Kong as an Offshore Administrative Base

The concept of residence has no applicability to Hong Kong tax law. Only Hong Kong source income is subject to Hong Kong tax. For this reason Hong Kong is a suitable base from which to administer an offshore company without tax consequence provided that company does not do business with other Hong Kong residents. This is one of the reasons why the use of offshore companies by Hong Kong residents has proliferated to such a great extent. Offshore companies can conveniently have Hong Kong based directors, a Hong Kong bank account and a Hong Kong office address without being brought into the Hong Kong tax net. Most other countries of the world operate a residency based tax system and care therefore needs to be taken to ensure that the offshore company does not establish a permanent place of business within those countries or is managed and controlled from those countries. For example, an offshore company which had UK based directors or which established a place of business within the UK may become liable to UK tax on its worldwide income. Additionally, it is interesting to note that a Hong Kong company does not have to state its registered office address or place of incorporation on its letterhead. This would give the offshore company the added respectability of a Hong Kong persona combined with the added flexibility and ease of administration of an offshore company.

7. China Entry

Y. ECONOMIDES & CO LLC is able to offer assistance on China tax and Foreign Investment Enterprises (FIE’s) with the assistance of its Shanghai liaisons. This assistance may take the form of the incorporation of Wholly Foreign Owned Entities (WFOE’s) for overseas parent companies, establishing Representative Offices and Joint Venture companies or business and tax consulting generally. Expatriates living in China can also benefit from our Firm’s expertise in advising on, inter alia, China tax, US, UK and Australia tax and suitable structures to mitigate taxes for those persons with multi-jurisdictional tax concerns.

Our Firm can take the initial queries relating to these issues and draw on the expertise of its Shanghai affiliate in providing a full range of services.