France and Hong Kong

Political relations

France has significant interests in Hong Kong. The SAR is home to almost 15,000 French nationals, of whom 10,673 are registered with the French Consulate, making it the second largest French community in Asia after Shanghai (12,000 registered nationals). Over the past three years, this number has grown rapidly and constantly, at a rate of over 1,000 new registered residents a year. Some 700 French businesses are registered with the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hong Kong. The Lycée Victor Segalen in Hong Kong is the largest French International School in Asia, with 2,360 pupils on its roll at the start of the 2012 academic year.

Economic relations

Bilateral economic relations remain very positive, with France maintaining a substantial trade surplus (its largest in Asia and second largest in the world, at €3.9 billion). French businesses are well represented in Hong Kong.

In December 2010, France and Hong Kong signed a tax treaty to eliminate double taxation on income tax and wealth tax and prevent tax evasion and fraud. The Comprehensive Double Tax Agreement (CDTA) was ratified by both France and Hong Kong and came into force on 1 December 2011.

France’s commercial success in Hong Kong is based essentially on high value-added products for which the SAR represents a key regional purchasing platform. The sectors in which we excel are aeronautics, leather goods, perfumes and cosmetics, as well as wines and spirits. The Hong Kong authorities are keen to make the city a nerve centre for the wine trade in Asia, hence their decision in 2008 to abolish excise duty on these products. Hong Kong has also signed wine cooperation agreements with the Bordeaux region (2008) and with Burgundy (October 2010).

In 2009, Ubifrance Hong Kong launched Le French GourMay, an annual month-long festival promoting French gastronomy and wine. Each year focuses on a particular partner region (Bordeaux in 2012).

In the first half of 2012, our exports to Hong Kong totalled €2.8 billion, representing 11% of total exports to Asia. French imports from Hong Kong, still relatively modest, increased by +11.6% to a total of €272 million, consisting mostly of jewellery, time-pieces, toys and communication devices. For 2012, Hong Kong thus ranks as France’s 16th biggest customer in the world (1.3% of total exports) and its 59th biggest supplier (0.1% of total imports).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France enjoys a very high artistic and cultural profile and is keen to support Hong Kong’s ambition of becoming a cultural hub for the region.

Scientific, academic and research cooperation is our top priority, reflected in a number of university agreements including joint programmes and student exchanges (around one hundred currently under way). Developing joint-supervision theses is a major objective, as is training engineers.

Research is an emerging area of cooperation, involving joint research projects and joint applied research laboratories in partnership with industry.

In the field of the arts, the annual Le French May festival, inaugurated in 1992 and 98% financed by sponsorship and ticket sales, is the highlight of the artistic and cultural season. The 20th edition of Le French Mayin 2012 featured 20 exhibitions, 50 performances and 50 film screenings as part of a rich and diverse programme that included a Picasso exhibition, performances of "Carmen" (directed by Philippe Arlaud) and the latest equestrian theatre creation by Bartabas.

Hong Kong is also determined to entrench its leadership on the Asian art market, as witnessed by its International Art Fair and the record prices frequently attained by its auction houses.

French courses are offered at seven of the eight local universities, and further support for learning French is provided by the Alliance Française (7,000 new students a year in Hong Kong and 500 in Macao).

Cooperation in the field of social sciences centres on the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC), which publishes the bimonthly review "ChinaPerspectives" ("Perspectives Chinoises" in its French version) and organises conferences, seminars and colloquia.

Updated on : 08.11.12