By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
A mainland scholar has called on Macau’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to raise competitiveness in order to take advantage of the emerging development opportunities in the Pearl River Delta, but a local businessman in the meantime has claimed that SMEs in the city are overlooked by the Government.
Speaking on the sidelines of the symposium on China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, organised by the Macau Small and Medium Enterprises Association at MGM yesterday, Stanley Au Chong Kit, chairman of the association and owner of Banco Delta Asia, told reporters that the local SMEs are concerned about the “relatively high requirements” to take part in the development process across Guangdong and Hengqin and are also worried about their financial and management capabilities.
Au said the association hopes Government policies can provide more support to the SMEs.
“The SMEs are a disadvantaged group that is being nearly forgotten […] The business environment is very tough for us,” he claimed.
The businessman disclosed that after the forum yesterday, the association will review what role and position it should take in the near future, before it can be certain the kind of supportive measures it would like from the Government and what will be the most effective for its business development.
Meanwhile, Chen Guanghan, the director of the Centre for Studies of Hong Kong, Macau and the Pearl River Delta of Sun Yat-Sen University, said he has noticed SMEs generally do not have the capabilities to participate in the development of Hengqin such as the establishment of the Chinese medicine industrial park.
“So how can Macau’s economy be promoted if the local enterprises cannot set foot in Hengqin? It’s a contradiction,” Chen said.
He suggested that if Macau residents can find jobs and work freely in Hengqin and that foreign enterprises can launch the production lines on the island but register their headquarters or branches in Macau, the SAR may be able to benefit from the opportunities arisen from the Five-Year Plan as well.
The scholar stressed the importance for Macau SMEs to raise their competitiveness in the face of growing competition in the Pearl River Delta, saying that otherwise “it would be very difficult for them to further expand their business no matter where they go to”.
As such, he said it is necessary for the SMEs to have their own “innovative brands, business markets and talents”.
He also referred to the Zhuhai-Macau cross-border industrial zone and said: “If the Government cares about the SMEs too much, it will make them lose competitiveness.”
Chen said one of the topics of China’s latest Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) is to change the economic development model so that an economy will be promoted based on scientific and technological progress and the “excessive emphasis on GDP” in the past will be replaced.
“Macau has developed quite well since the handover but the gaming industry has grown relatively fast which has created some unfavourable effects to the economy,” he said.
“If Macau wants to achieve economic diversification, it must integrate with the mainland economy especially to establish cooperation with the Pearl River Delta region,” he added.
Macau has a trading platform with the European Union and the Portuguese-speaking countries and companies are able to arrange financing there, which, the scholar believed are the advantages that make cities in Guangdong such as Guangzhou and Zhuhai keen to cooperate with the SAR.
However, he pointed out that Macau should try to attract more talents from outside, such as the many mainland Chinese students studying abroad, to help development in Hengqin and that relying only on the manpower from the SAR and Zhuhai “will not be enough”.
“These talents are in high demand in many places throughout the Mainland but I think Macau also has the conditions to attract them because it enjoys higher economic freedom and the income level is comparatively higher than that in China,” he added.