Hong Kong is concerned about a lack of “flexibility” in the Indian labour market, a senior economist here said and suggested that medium and small-scale industries in India should have the liberty to adopt a “hire and fire” policy. Dickson Ho, principal economist at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), said the businessmen in the former British colony know the potential of the rapidly growing Indian market but they were not sure how to tap it. Though Dickson acknowledged cheap Indian labour as a huge advantage, he, however, said New Delhi needed to reach out to Hong Kong’s medium and small-scale industries to strengthen the bilateral trade. “A majority of companies in Hong Kong are SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and they wish to expand to India but India also needs to give incentives to medium-sized companies to consider India more intensely,” the top economist told PTI. The small and medium-scale industries need “comfort” in the form of long-term agreements, incentives and flexibility in labour laws, he said, adding that these enterprises also want a consistent policy on ease of doing business with India. “Hong Kong is concerned about flexibility in India’s labour market, where the small-scale industries should have ‘hire and fire flexibility’,” he said.
Dickson appreciated India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative but said the country needed to promote it to show the utility of such policies to the SMEs in Hong Kong. “There is a need for consistent and persistent attempts to promote ‘Make in India’ message among smaller companies. There are a lot of small and medium scale companies interested in doing business in India but they are facing difficulty in connecting with Indian market due to a lack of communication over ease of doing business in the country,” he said. Launched in 2015 by the Indian government, the ‘Make in India’ initiative is aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing. Calling India’s relationship with Hong Kong “very strong”, the economist said that bilateral ties were growing at a very good rate and in were expected to further increase. Dickson said Hong Kong is a “super-connector” that is a very much available for doing business with India and it is completely up to India to use Hong Kong as a platform to connect with it and other countries.
According to latest HKTDC data, India was Hong Kong’s sixth-largest trading partner in the first half of this year. Their bilateral trade registered a robust 40 per cent growth during that period, the highest growth among Hong Kong’s top 30 partner countries that include China and the US. The India-Hong Kong trade surpassed USD 18 billion during the period.