On the Map: Hong Kong

By Swanson, Sandra A. | PM Network, November 2009 | Go to article overview

On the Map: Hong Kong


Swanson, Sandra A., PM Network


AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND ECONOMIC TRENDS AROUND THE GLOBE-ONE CITY AT A TIME

THIS SKY-HIGH CITY IS CAPITALIZING ON ITS CLOSE TIES TO MAINLAND CHINA-AND CHANGING THE ROLE OF PROJECT MANAGERS.

Hong Kong has long been known as a place where East meets West- and this fiercely independent city is making the most of its unique spot.

The stage was set 12 years ago when after more than a century and a half under the rule of the United Kingdom, the city became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. An agreement outlining a "one country, two systems" approach specified Hong Kong would remain autonomous of China's economic system.

It seems to be working just fine for Hong Kong.

In January 2009, The Heritage Foundation named Hong Kong the world's freest economy for the 15th consecutive year. The U.S. think tank's annual index ranks 179 economies based on their commitment to free-market capitalism.

Dubbed one of the most vertical cities in the world because of its many high-rises, Hong Kong is reaching for new heights, literally and figuratively- 558 of the city's skyscrapers top 400 feet (122 meters). Hong Kong's soaring giants include the second tower of the International Finance Centre, known as 2 IFC. But the 88-story building will soon face competition from the 118-story International Commerce Centre scheduled for completion in 2010.

During the past year, however, another presence has loomed large: the global credit crunch. Although increased government spending has helped buoy some projects, the landscape is clearly shifting. Project managers in Hong Kong now find themselves going up against project managers from the mainlandwho usually aren't as demanding in their salary requirements. To stand out from the pack, they'll need strong people skills and a refined business perspective.

TAKING STOCK

Like many metropolises around the world, Hong Kong is waiting for the recession to end- and trying to speed things up with a major infrastructure overhaul.

After the crisis has fully run its course, "the mediumand longer-term economic prospects for Hong Kong remain promising," according to a government report released in February.

"The government, together with the private sector, will continue to step up efforts to raise the competitiveness of the economy to complement the vibrant developments in the mainland. [It will do this] by striving to restructure the economy toward knowledgebased, high value-added activities, by enhancing our roles as an international financial center and a leading business hub, and by further strengthening our integration with the mainland," the report said.

There are some signs the city is headed down the road to recovery.

By mid-August, Hong Kong's economy began to rebound- with real GDP registering a 3.8 percent decline, down from a 7.8 percent drop in the previous quarter. From a seasonally adjusted quarter-to-quarter comparison, the GDP resumed growth at 3.3 percent in the second quarter, ending the contraction from the previous four quarters. The government upgraded its fullyear 2009 forecast, saying the GDP would shrink by between 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent, against a previous forecast for a 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent contraction.

Of course, it doesn't hurt to have such close ties with one of the few economies that appears to have turned the corner.

"[Hong Kong's] rebound has largely been 'Made in China'- exports to the mainland have picked up, while easy liquidity conditions there have contributed to recent gains in Hong Kong asset prices, providing a strong boost to Hong Kong consumers," Brian Jackson, an economist at Royal Bank of Canada, told China Daily in August.

The Chinese government is also doing its part, launching a US$586 billion stimulus package with funding for railways, subways, airports, housing and other infrastructure. …

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