Monday, August 13, 2007

Integration Lessons from Hong Kong

The Wall Street Journal reports that Hong Kong aims to integrate with the neighboring City of Shenzhen, a Southern China metropolis known for its “Silicon Valley-style technological hubs.” Shenzhen has of late been giving Hong Kong lots of competition. Critics expect the resulting economic powerhouse to rival Tokyo, London and even New York.

The Hong Kong/Shenzhen integration is commercially driven; authorities are focusing on easing the movement of goods and people. Two million Shenzhen residents will freely enter and work in Hong Kong, which will boost the latter’s population to 10 million. Shenzhen will benefit by gaining access to hong kong's sophisticated financial system, whereas Hong Kong will take pleasure in Shenzhen’s robust hi-tech industry.

A new railway line will cut a three-hour journey between the two cities to just 45 minutes. WSJ adds that the rail will “plug Hong Kong directly into China’s nationalwide network—thus cut transport costs between Hong Kong and mainland.

The East African integration is quite different: our governments are busy creating more bureaucracies in Arusha instead of making it easier for East Africans to do business. They are churning-out wasteful organizations such as East African Parliament and Judiciary while more pressing issues like barriers to trade and unfriendly immigration laws remain unaddressed.

Bottom Line: The goal of integration, says Hong Kong and Shenzhen, “is to allow businesses and residents on both sides of the boundary to work and live with the greatest convenience possible.” That’s a descent lesson for EAC enthusiasts.


coldtusker said...

I have always said we need to push for removal of trade barriers for a natural integration.

Once these economies have enough invested in trade then the political integration can take place.

This is Africa. We have civil wars all over (well, much better than 10 years ago but a long way to go). We have greedy politicians (Kenyan MPs), idiots posing as leaders (mugabe), thieves aplenty, paedophiles (swaziland's mswati), chaotic failed states (somalia), megalomaniacs (qaddafi)...

Let's follow the European model for the moment. Trade & economic integration will do us good. Then think about political integration!

branded said...

Great post, that east AFricans need to read and act on. Since independence the EAC only talks about Intergration in so many words but nothing good is ever forthcoming. PS: Can I Redo this post on as a follow up on my earlier post about Tanzanias underhand tactics in East Africa?

Coldtuster: What an analysis on Africa!
Its true there is total madness in Africa going by the picture you've painted in your comment.

Kenyanomics said...

You got it Coldie--> Removal of trade barriers comes before political integration. It took EU 40 years to achieve their current integration, but EAC is trying to achieve that in less than a decade.

Branded--> Please be my guest. East African media needs to provide more critical analysis of the Union. Following politicians blindly could be a 1977 Déjà vu.