France and Hong Kong

The largest French community in Asia

The French Community in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) numbers almost 20,000 people, of whom more than 12,000 are registered with the Consulate-General. It has been growing strongly and steadily for the past three years, with 1,000 more registrations each year.

The French International School (FIS) Victor Segalen is the largest in Asia, with 2650 students enrolled at the start of the 2015/15 academic year.

The bilateral Working Holiday Agreement signed in 2013 enables young people from France and Hong Kong aged 18-30 to spend up to one year in Hong Kong and France respectively, with the possibility of working during their stay.

Bilateral visits (2013-2016)

To Hong Kong
  • 7-8 March 2013: Ms Fleur Pellerin, Minister Delegate for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Innovation and the Digital Economy
  • 26-27 April 2013: Mr Pierre Moscovici, Minister of the Economy and Finance
  • 5-9 May 2013: Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • 25 February 2016: Mr Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance and Public Accounts
  • 24-25 May 2016: Mr Matthias Fekl, French Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad.
To France
  • 31 May 2013: Mr Gregory So, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development
  • 20-21 November 2013: Mr John Tsang, Financial Secretary, to participate in the Joint Paris EUROPLACE – Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) Forum on the internationalization of the Renminbi; meeting with Mr Pierre Moscovici, Minister of the Economy and Finance
  • 28-29 October 2014: Mr John Tsang, Financial Secretary; meetings with Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and with Mr Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad
  • 6 July 2015: Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment.
  • 7-9 June 2016: Mr Chun-ying Leung, Chief Executive of Hong Kong

Economic relations

Bilateral trade flows between France and Hong Kong reached €5.4 billion in 2015 (+7% rise on 2014). Bilateral economic relations are characterized by France’s bilateral trade surplus: its largest in Asia and second-largest in the world. Many French companies are present in Hong Kong (800, including 300 subsidiaries and 70 regional headquarters).

In 2015, French exports to Hong Kong reached €4.5 billion, up 3% year-on-year. Meanwhile, French imports from Hong Kong increased by 33% to €827 million the same year.

France’s trade performance in Hong Kong essentially involves products with very high added value for which the SAR is a preferred purchasing platform at regional level. Leading sectors are aviation, leather goods, clothing and footwear, perfumes and cosmetics, jewellery and clock making, and wines and spirits. The Hong Kong authorities aim to make their city a wine trade hub in Asia, hence their decision in 2008 to abolish tax on these products. In 2015, the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong concluded a Trade Facilitation Agreement to import wine into China via Hong Kong. The Vinexpo trade show, created in France in 1981, is now held every two years in Hong Kong. It has become one of Asia’s leading trade fairs in the wine and spirits sector.

In 2009, Ubifrance’s Hong Kong Office created Le French GourMay to promote French culture in terms of gastronomy and wine. Each year, the focus is on a partner region (Midi-Pyrénées in 2015, Alsace in 2016).

Hong Kong’s direct investment stock in France was estimated at €1.3 billion in 2014. France’s investment stock in Hong Kong was around €8.3 billion in 2014, making France the eighth-largest foreign investor and the second-largest European investor in Hong Kong.

A tax agreement was signed between France and Hong Kong in 2010 for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and on capital.

Innovation is a priority common to the French and Hong Kong governments. In 2015, Hong Kong’s government created an Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB), while in early 2016, France established a French Tech Hub in Hong Kong, aimed at fostering the integration of French start-ups into the local environment and promoting the attractiveness of the French ecosystem for Hong Kong’s start-ups.

Scientific, technical, academic and cultural cooperation

Scientific, academic and research cooperation is a priority. It involves university agreements that include joint programmes and student exchanges, of which some 100 are currently in force. The development of jointly supervised theses is a major objective as well as engineer training.

Research is an emerging sector of cooperation which includes joint research projects (such as the Hong Kong University-Pasteur Research Pole on infectious diseases) and joint applied research laboratories in partnership with industry.

Cooperation in the social sciences is built around the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC), which publishes the quarterly journal “China Perspectives”, with French and English versions and organizes conferences, round tables and symposiums.

French is taught at seven out of eight local universities. There is an Alliance Française Centre in Hong Kong.

In the cultural sector, the annual Le French May festival, initiated in 1992 and financed for 98% by sponsorship and ticket sales, is the highlight of the French artistic and cultural season in Hong Kong. With almost 2 million visitors each year, Le French May is the second-largest cultural festival in Hong Kong and Macau and one of the leading French events in Asia. For its 23ʳᵈ edition in 2015, Le French May staged 34 exhibitions, 46 shows and 25 film screenings exploring 500 years of French culture and creation from the perspective of innovation. In 2017, the event was held in May-June.

Updated: 21.06.17

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