Real Estate Matters | (Opinion) The Greater Bay Area Plan and Macau

Sam Lee

On February 18, Chinese policymakers finally released the blueprint for the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong- Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA).

The 11-chapter document described a grand plan to drive economic integration and innovation in the region, and citied Macau is one of the core cities alongside Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau.

The vision is truly ambitious. By leveraging the resources and individual strengths of the various cities in the region, the plan is to create an economic powerhouse that can be described as “Silicon Valley and Wall Street within the same city cluster,” according to Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam.

But like any ambitious plan, it won’t happen without obstacles. There are obvious infrastructural and logistical challenges to completely ‘integrate’ such a large geographical area spanning land and sea. There are also extensive legal challenges, as the two S.A.Rs and the mainland do not share the same legal framework.

But all in all, the plan does seem to hold potential in the long run.

Many developers and investors seem to share this sentiment. As soon as the plan was released, there were headlines of bullish developers planning to expand their portfolios in cities such as Shenzhen and even Zhongshan.

The plan’s outline for Macau is to focus on being the “world centre for tourism and leisure” and act as a bridge to Portuguese-speaking countries.

Nothing unexpected there.

My personal opinion is that the plan to turn Macau into a ‘bridge’ between the region and the Portuguese speaking countries potentially underestimates the entrepreneurialism and resourcefulness of both China and the Portuguese-speaking countries such as Brazil and various African nations.

While I was living and studying in Guangzhou, I was definitively surprised by the number of African and Brazilian entrepreneurs engaging business across sectors such as trade, F&B, manufacturing and textiles.

Many of them were fluent in Mandarin, and they seemed to have a strong network of compatriots who supported each other in their business. Many have been doing business in China for years.

After speaking with them, I discovered that there was an even heavier presence of Portuguese-speaking business people operating in other places of China, such as Dongguan.

My personal observation was that these entrepreneurs already have a ‘platform’ and a ‘gateway’ into doing business in China. Why would they need to come through Macau?

Macau could offer services such as translation and structured legal support and consultation – But many of them speak Chinese anyway, and they’ve already been doing business just fine in China for years!

But of course, I could be mistaken, and Macau could add a ton of value to these entrepreneurs. I certainly hope so!

Sam Lee is a marketing manager and property consultant at JML Property.  JML was established in 1994 and offers Investment Property & Homes. It specializes in managing properties for owners and investors, and providing attractive and comfortable homes for tenants.

Categories Business