In face of the uncertain global economic outlook and fierce competition from nearby regions, Hong Kong must make the best use of its maritime “software” such as maritime legal services, ship finance and marine insurance to enhance its role as an international maritime center, Hong Kong’s justice secretary said on Saturday.

Secretary for Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government Teresa Cheng said in her blog that Hong Kong is one of the busiest and most efficient international container ports in the world, connecting to some 420 destinations around the globe. Last year, it handled 18.3 million containers.

Through effective governance, policies and practices, Hong Kong is always committed to consolidating its role as an international maritime center.

With the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) setting up its China Liaison Office in the HKSAR last year, this establishment of the first overseas ICS office outside London reflects Hong Kong’s efforts in promoting high-end maritime services.

It also reaffirms the unique status and advantages enjoyed by Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” principle and explains the attractiveness for international bodies to set up offices here, Cheng said.

The Maritime Industry covers a wide spectrum of services and plays a pivotal role in our trade and economic development, Cheng said. “We also need to grasp the opportunities brought by the Belt & Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area development with a view to enhancing our role as a maritime hub.”

The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), a renowned and leading non-governmental organization (NGO) in the shipping industry and is specialized in promoting global standard forms, has recently announced its adoption of the BIMCO Law and Arbitration Clause 2020 which includes Hong Kong as one of the four designated arbitration venues, Cheng said.

“This decision not only recognizes Hong Kong’s increased popularity as a center for dispute resolution, but also reflects Hong Kong’s position as a leader in the area of international maritime arbitration,” she said.

The Department of Justice of the HKSAR government will continue to create a favorable environment for the development of maritime arbitration to form a good synergy with shipping and port operations, she added.