The Hong Kong government is allocating 500 million Hong Kong dollars, or $64.35 million, of its 2016-17 budget to the fashion industry.
That sum represents a relatively minor percentage of the government’s total planned expenditures of 490 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $63.06 billion, for the year. But it is significant that financial secretary John C. Tsang singled out the fashion industry as an area worthy of investment, along with film and “arts and sports” in his budget presentation Wednesday.
Tsang said the $64.35 million will go towards developing the fashion industry, specifically in terms of promoting local designers and brands internationally and in Hong Kong. Tsang said the Hong Kong government will establish an incubation program for fashion designers, “drawing on the experience of other fashion capitals like London, New York and Seoul.” The government will also set up a resource center to provide technical training and support for young designers, he said.
The government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council will also sponsor programs that will bring emerging Hong Kong fashion brands to Paris and New York fashion weeks, Tsang said. A group of Hong Kong designers showed in New York earlier this month.
This fall, the HKTDC will launch a new event called Centrestage to give Asian brands a platform for runway shows. It runs Sept. 7-10. This new event will complement the existing Hong Kong Fashion Week, which is mainly a trade show for manufacturers and suppliers. The next Hong Kong Fashion Week will take place July 4-7.
Tsang released the new budget provisions as he warned that Hong Kong’s GDP growth is slowing amid a cloud of global economic uncertainty. Tsang said Hong Kong’s economic growth is set to slow to just 1 to 2 percent in 2016, down from the 2.5 percent growth registered in 2015.
“The uncertain pace of U.S. interest rate [normalization], heightened financial market volatility, modest and patchy growth in advanced economies, weak growth in emerging markets, a slowdown in inbound tourism and subdued exports will all impact on growth prospects,” the Hong Kong government said in a release summarizing Tsang’s statements.