Funding source: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research-Science for Global Development (NWO-WOTRO)

The territory of Hong Kong has existed as a key intermediary trading post and financial centre in the world economy for centuries. In the past few decades, however, Hong Kong’s own economy has been reshaped by the substantial influx of capital from entities in mainland China wanting to avoid various capital restrictions imposed by the state.

UQ researchers are studying the multi-faceted effects of this shift from an economy built on manufacturing and trade to one based on offshore services. They’re analysing commercial and financial data to understand how Hong Kong mediates offshore flows both to and from China, and how this has affected Hong Kong and its residents, such as the exponential rise in housing prices.

“Our research seeks to understand Hong Kong’s role as an offshore economy, particularly in the context of an increasingly globalised Chinese economy,” explained lead researcher, Dr Thomas Sigler. 

“We’re looking at two specific functions — merchanting and merchandising — as flagship industries within a larger offshore services cluster. 

“What we learn about the nature of this transition and its related effects will help countries like Australia adapt their trade relationships with both Hong Kong and mainland China.

“We’re also building knowledge for other nations to draw upon as they transition from manufacturing to services-based economies.”