Hong Kong’s position as an increasingly integrated component in the GBA is opening up new and varied opportunities for the SAR’s construction sector. This is in turn creating long-term demand for skilled workers in Hong Kong’s construction sector. Though China faces pressing economic challenges and the country’s real estate market industry experienced bouts of turbulence over 2021, which saw China’s second-biggest developer Evergrande default on debt repayments, the PRC’s construction sector is being buoyed by the country’s growth powerhouse: the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA).
What is the GBA?
Outlined in 2017, the GBA is composed of Hong Kong and Macau as well as nine cities in mainland China—Dongguan, Foshan, Guangzhou, Huizhou, Jiangmen, Shenzhen, Zhaoqing, Zhongshan and Zhuhai. As a whole, the area covers 56,000 square kilometres, boasts a population of over 86 million, and generated a GDP of US$1.6 trillion in 2020. The GBA’s GDP is forecast to hit US$4.6 trillion in the next eight years.
Each part of the area has a role to fulfil, technology and innovation in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and trade and finance in Hong Kong, for instance. The GBA, a key pillar of the country’s economic strategy, is vitally important to China’s development.
The aim is to build the GBA into a highly integrated bay area to rival the likes of San Francisco, Tokyo and New York. These ambitious and achievable plans, as detailed in the Outline Development Plan for the Greater Bay Area in February 2019, bode well for Hong Kong’s construction sector, as well as architectural and engineering industries. And with Guangdong’s Communist Party leader recently urging the GBA’s components to step up the pace of development, 2022 is set to be a year of rapid progress.
The related infrastructure that’s already been built includes the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which opened in 2019. Stretching 55km across the Pearl River Delta, the bridge-tunnel system is the world’s longest sea-crossing. And much more infrastructure is planned as authorities drive forward plans to more closely integrate the GBA’s members. For instance, the 24km-long Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge, which will connect Shenzhen and Zhongshan, is scheduled for completion in 2024. Other large-scale projects include shopping malls, apartment complexes, hotels and offices.
Deeper Greater Bay Area integration is Set to Boost Hong Kong’s Construction Sector
Integration of the construction sectors across the GBA is creating synergies and making it easier for people to work across the GBA’s boundaries. For example, in 2020, 24 Macanese and five Hong Kong businesses obtained registration certificates to provide construction services in the area, as did 87 Macanese and 38 Hong Kong construction professionals.
Last year, Hong Kong’s government brought in measures to enable qualified Hong Kong-based professionals in the architecture, engineering, surveying and landscape architecture fields to directly provide services in the GBA after registering in the Mainland. This further opened up a huge array of opportunities for construction professionals in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s construction sector stands to benefit as more collaborative projects are undertaken in the GBA, especially with regard to high-end services like building information modelling, reclamation, high-density design, project management, and engineering consulting.
Not only does Hong Kong’s position in the GBA comprise a growth driver in the form of access to a rapidly increasing opportunity set, the SAR’s own development plans are set to propel the further growth of Hong Kong’s construction sector.
A Research and Markets analysis published in May, 2022, forecast that Hong Kong’s construction industry will grow 2.5% over the year boosted by the recovery of activity and major transport and housing projects. In February, 2022, Hong Kong’s government announced a plan to support the construction sector worker supply by some 27,000 skilled and semi-skilled employees over the next few years in anticipation of a building boom.
In another huge development for the construction sector, then-Hong Kong chief executive unveiled in October 2021 a new Hong Kong Metropolis Plan at the centre of which is construction of a new urban area, dubbed the Northern Metropolis, situated on the border with Shenzhen. Some 926,000 homes will be built to create the conurbation and house up to 2.5 million residents.
Hong Kong’s construction sector has honed a good reputation for high-quality projects and is a regional leader. Add the SAR’s position in the GBA to the mix, and Hong Kong promises plenty of opportunities for people looking to grow their careers in construction.
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