September 2021 / Hong Kong

September 29 2021

Real Estate and Construction Services Industry in Hong Kong


  • Building and construction: Hong Kong companies have gained a reputation over the years for the rapid construction of quality high-rise apartment blocks and office towers. The adoption of specialised construction techniques, such as reclamation and design-and-build methods, has made Hong Kong a regional leader.
  • Architecture: Hong Kong is a leading expert in high-rise design, slope design, high-density design and designing with space constraints. It is renowned for high-rise buildings typified by the skyscrapers in Hong Kong’s central business district, which showcase the innovative application of building materials, technology and designs combined with the versatility of Hong Kong's architects.
  • Engineering: Hong Kong's engineers are active in exporting their services to the region, particularly to Mainland China. Major types of professional engineering services currently being exported include project management, building services work and engineering consulting.
  • Surveying: Hong Kong is the region's leader in the surveying profession in terms of experience and technical expertise. The buoyant construction market over the last two decades has provided invaluable exposure for the local surveying profession to a wide range of projects. 

Industry Data


Major Indicators of the Construction Sector












Gross value of construction works performed (HK$ million)




Source: Key Statistics on Business Performance and Operating Characteristics of the Building, Construction and Real Estate Sectors (2019 Edition), Census and Statistics Department

Dec 2020 (YOY %)

Mar 2021 (YOY%)

Number of Construction Sites

1,668 (-0.6)

1,681 (+3.5)


809 (+15.1)

789 (+3.5)


859 (-11.9)

892 (+3.5)

Employment at Construction Sites

96,117 (-3.8)

102,702 (+1.6)


41,199 (+9.4)

43,129 (+10.6)


54,918 (-11.8)

59,573 (-4.0)

Source: Quarterly Report of Employment and Vacancies at Construction Sites (Fourth Quarter 2020 and First Quarter 2021), Census and Statistics Department

Gross Value of Construction Works Performed by Main Contractors





HK$ million


HK$ million


HK$ million


Private sector sites







Public sector sites







Locations other than sites







All group







Source: Report on the Quarterly Survey of Construction Output (Fourth Quarter 2020), Census and Statistics Department
Real Estate

Major Indicators of the Real Estate Sector












Number of real estate development projects




    Private residential premises




    Office buildings




Source: Key Statistics on Business Performance and Operating Characteristics of the Building, Construction and Real Estate Sectors (2019 Edition), Census and Statistics Department
Architectural, Surveying and Engineering

Major Indicators of the Architectural, Surveying and Engineering Services Sector Related to Real Estate and Construction

Dec 2020 (YOY%)

Mar 2021 (YOY%)


2,692 (+3.4)

2,698 (+2.5)


30,309 (+2.1)

30,266 (+2.3)

Sources: Quarterly Report of Employment and Vacancies Statistics (First Quarter 2021), Census and Statistics Department
Range of Services

Types of Real Estate and Construction Services

Building and construction
  • Buildings
  • Structures and facilities
  • Non-site activities
  • Planning
  • Design
  • Development
  • Civil
  • Structural
  • Building
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • General surveying
  • Quantity surveying
  • Building surveying
  • Land surveying
Services Providers Building and Construction Hong Kong's construction industry is characterised by a small number of large local contractors, a large number of overseas contractors, and a high level of sub-contracting, with a substantial proportion of companies being both developers and contractors. Most of Hong Kong's construction companies are small in size. Companies that carry out construction work worth less than HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) in terms of annual gross value account for as much as 86% of the industry. The majority of the small companies act as subcontractors for the large ones, which tend to be main contractors. There are also a number of big construction companies capable of handling projects requiring sophisticated technology and strong financial backing, which are expanding their business across the region. Hong Kong contractors tend to be experienced and highly skilled. There are no formal restrictions on entry to the contracting business in Hong Kong. Foreign and local contractors are treated alike, and all are allowed to tender local public sector projects. Due to the growing size and complexity of building projects, it is now common to award large and complex building contracts as a single package to multi-disciplined contractors. Architecture All practitioners have to register with the Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA), which has more than 4,000 members. Most of the architect firms in Hong Kong are locally owned. Attracted by the business opportunities in the region, a number of foreign architects have come to work in Hong Kong. Engineering Many engineers are members of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE), a local professional body for engineers. First established as the Engineering Society of Hong Kong in 1947, the HKIE was incorporated by government ordinance in 1975 to set professional standards and to encourage professional development for local engineers. In 1992, the HKIE qualification was recognised for government services appointments. The HKIE has become a key qualifying body for a wide range of engineering disciplines.
Membership of the HKIE

Number of Members as at Jun 2020

Civil Division


Structural Division


Building Services Division


Geotechnical Division


Environmental Division


Electrical Division


Mechanical, Marine, Naval Architecture & Chemical Division


Information Technology Division


Source: Hong Kong Institution of Engineers
Surveying The number of surveyors practising in Hong Kong has been growing as a result of increasing demand and opportunities in the local and surrounding markets. A number of leading international surveying firms have established their regional offices in Hong Kong. Three divisions of Hong Kong’s surveying industry have gained mutual recognition of professional qualification with Mainland China, namely general practice, quantity surveying and building surveying. The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS) is a professional body established in 1984. As of December 2020, HKIS has over 7,000 corporate members.
Corporate Membership of HKIS

Number of members as of Dec 2020

Quantity Surveying


General Practice


Building Surveying


Property and Facility Management


Land Surveying


Planning and Development


# Holding multiple membership Source: Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors
Exports of Services

Hong Kong Exports of Services




Construction Services
Value (HK$ million)




Share of total service exports (%)




YOY growth (%)




Architectural, Engineering, Scientific and Other Technical Services
Value (HK$ million)




Share of total service exports (%)




YOY growth (%)




Source: Hong Kong Trade in Services Statistics (2019 Edition), Census and Statistics Department
Hong Kong is internationally renowned for its expertise in the construction of quality high-rise residential and commercial buildings, and its services are in great demand in overseas markets, particularly in Asia. Mainland China is the largest export market for Hong Kong’s architectural, engineering and surveying services. A number of Hong Kong companies in the engineering sector are also exporting their services via working for multinational companies in South-east Asia, North America and Western Europe, covering a wide range of industries including information technology, telecommunications, chemicals and fast-moving consumer goods.

Industry Development and Market Outlook

Investment in Local Public Infrastructure   To achieve the objective of promoting economic growth through infrastructural development, the Hong Kong government has been increasing its infrastructure investment over the past few years. Hong Kong’s ten mega infrastructure projects, first announced in the 2007 Policy Address, are being rolled out in phases and several transport projects are being carried forward in tandem. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link were opened in 2018, improving logistics and transport efficiency between Hong Kong and mainland cities. The West Kowloon Cultural District, an important cultural infrastructure investment of Hong Kong, has launched The Xiqu Centre, its first landmark performing arts venue, in January 2019. Progress has also been made on the Rail Gen 2.0 project, with full Tuen Ma Line commenced services in June this year together with two new MTR stations, namely To Kwa Wan and Sung Wong Toi. Other major projects under way include MTR’s East Rail Line extension to Admiralty, Kai Tak Development and development areas in the northern New Territories. The 14th Five-Year Plan and the Greater Bay Area The National 14th Five-Year Plan promulgates “expedition of the construction of inter‑city railways, co-ordinated planning for the positioning of ports and airports, and optimisation of the allocation of maritime and aviation resources” to strengthen connectivity in the Greater Bay Area, which calls for faster growth in infrastructure construction in the region. The Plan also raises support for Hong Kong to enhance its status as an international aviation hub, underscoring the importance of the on-going Three-runway System (3RS) Project at the Hong Kong International Airport. The pavement of the third runway was completed in September this year, and the entire 3RS Project is expected to complete by 2024. Belt and Road Opportunities   In March 2015, China’s National Development and Reform Commission issued The Vision and Actions on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, outlining the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), co-operation priorities and mechanisms. As of 2020, it is estimated that mainland China has invested about US$770 billion into projects along the BRI routes, with over one-third of the investments went to transport infrastructure projects such as ports, railways, and roads, and real estate projects.[1] Hong Kong is renowned for its excellent professional services and it is expected that the industry can benefit from the ample opportunities ahead. A list of available investment projects along the Belt and Road can be found here. Developing Asia’s Infrastructure Needs  Many developing Asian countries, such as India and Indonesia, have recognised the urgent need to upgrade their basic infrastructure, road networks, port facilities, housing and city planning to keep up with rapid economic growth. According to the Asia Development Bank (ADB), the region is estimated to require US$26 trillion from 2016 to 2030 to meet its infrastructure requirements, meaning US$1.7 trillion will be needed for each intervening year. Green Building Boom  The growing awareness of the need for environmental protection is creating an increasing demand for green buildings. Hong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority has announced its environmental sustainability policy for future urban renewal projects. According to the Hong Kong Green Building Council, more than 2,300 buildings are certified by BEAM Plus, a leading initiative in Hong Kong to offer independent assessments of building sustainability performance. One example is the Hong Kong’s Children Hospital, which has installed district cooling system, solar hot water system and photovoltaic panels on roof tops to reduce energy consumption. Hong Kong is outstanding in terms of integration and application of technologies and know how in designing and constructing green buildings. A prime example is Hong Kong’s K11 Atelier King’s Road, which is the first building in the world to achieve all platinum levels pre-certifications of the WELL Building Standard, Hong Kong BEAM Plus and the US’ LEED. The building has incorporated a number of green technologies such as use of low e-glazing, sensor-linked LED lighting system to enhance its sustainability features. It is also equipped with Asia’s largest solar photovoltaic thermal (PVT) installation on the rooftop to achieve higher energy savings and efficiency. Technology Adoption   In order to strive under the competitive global environment, it is critical for the construction industry in Hong Kong to promote efficiency and innovation by adopting modern construction methods and techniques, information technology (IT) and automation technology. The use of IT technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) has increased across the industry, including large-scale project owners such as MTR Corp and Airport Authority. The introduction of Construction Industry Council (CIC) BIM Standards allows industry participants to manage and assess BIM deliverables by architects, engineers, surveyors and contractors. To encourage innovative technologies in the construction sector, the Hong Kong government has set up a HK$1 billion Construction Innovation and Technology Fund (CITF) to help boost technology adoption and increase productivity via automation and digitisation. Categories of funding includes BIM, Modular Integrated Construction (MIC), prefabricated steel rebar, and other advanced technologies such as automated wall plastering machines. As of July 2021, over 1,900 CITF applications have been approved with total grant amount more than HK$487 million. Gammon Construction, a Hong Kong-based construction and engineering services provider, has been actively adopting technologies to boost productivity and safety in construction. Earlier this year, the company introduced G-eye – a mobile monitory system that provides real-time inspection of front-line conditions and site safety at any time, from any location. By coordinating with artificial intelligence (AI) behaviour detection, the system can also alert workers who enter restricted areas or who are not wearing the necessary protective equipment to enhance their safety awareness.

The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between Hong Kong and the Mainland (CEPA) 

CEPA provides many benefits to Hong Kong’s real estate and construction businesses, ranging from greater flexibility in entering the mainland market to mutual qualification recognition. The latest Agreement on Trade in Services consolidates and extends the liberalisation of services to the whole of China, which granted Hong Kong Services Suppliers (HKSS) national treatment to provide various construction and related engineering services across China. As of 31 August 2021, there were 106 approved HKSS in the construction professional services and construction and related engineering services sectors, and 29 approved HKSS in the real estate services sector. Further information on the latest CEPA agreements can be found here.  

Source: HKTDC Research by Melissa Ho

[1] Green Belt and Road Initiative Center
September 16 2021

Hong Kong Logistics: Cutting-Edge Fashion and Wine Freight Solutions

Hong Kong is an international logistics hub boasting a vibrant logistics sector. More logistics options have been made available to trading companies in recent years, thanks to changes in the market and government policies. For instance, in addition to traditional truckload shipping, goods can now be shipped to the mainland in the form of cross-border e-commerce retail imports. Meanwhile, as major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou continue to be key high-end consumer goods markets, Hainan is emerging as another prime consumption centre thanks to its duty-free shopping policy for travellers.

Hong Kong logistics solutions providers face a serious challenge in how to adjust operations swiftly to meet client demands. In the face of an ever-changing logistics market, some operators have proactively taken advantage of market changes and created new opportunities, including CN Logistics International Holdings Limited. Founded in 1991 and listed in Hong Kong in 2020, CN Logistics is a leading logistics solutions provider specialising in high-end fashion and wine. The company operates 36 distribution centres in regions including Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Switzerland and Italy.

In an interview with HKTDC Research, Suki Cheung, Director of CN Logistics, shared how the company copes with changes in the market and her views on the strengths of Hong Kong’s logistics sector, which should provide a valuable reference for industry players.

Being reliable and progressive

Attributing the company’s sustained business growth to its solid track record and word-of-mouth reputation, Cheung said: “As high-end fashion items and wine are both high-value, fragile products, clients attach the utmost importance to logistics solutions providers’ goodwill and experience. Given the products’ hefty price tags, security is a major concern. A branded handbag or a bottle of vintage wine can easily sell for hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong dollars, and it is critical for us to ensure that such products are delivered safely to their destinations.” “Security aside, clients are also particular about logistics providers’ choice of transport solution. For example, some high-end fashion cannot be folded and must be hung up all the way during transport. For some leather products, the logistics provider must ensure that they are kept in a controlled environment to prevent the leather becoming brittle because of high temperature or mould growing as a result of high humidity.”

Cheung saw staff retention as a key element in providing a good service, ensuring that expertise developed over the years stays within the company. She said: “To be able to attend to every detail in the transport process a team with substantial experience is a requisite. CN Logistics has a stable team, many members of which possess over 20 years’ experience, having joined the company when it first started. Our wealth of experience means that we are adept in handling logistics for high-end fashion items and wine, earning positive word-of-mouth among our clients.”

“Our experienced team also assists the company in making the best decisions on our development strategies. In recent years, there have been heated discussions on automated logistics. We have built a semi-automated 90,000 sq ft warehouse in Shanghai which operates as a storage and distribution centre for high-end fashion.” “Wine, however, is a product carrying certain historical and cultural legacies and the wine bottle and wine box also make up a significant part of the product value. Hence, we still count on our experienced team to manually handle the logistics for wine to safeguard efficiency, quality and safety.”

Tailored solutions

Worldwide product supply chains have been disrupted during the pandemic. Outlining CN Logistics’ proactive efforts to help businesses resolve logistics blockages, Cheung said: “Unable to travel out of mainland China to shop during the pandemic, mainland consumers of high-end fashion and wine naturally turned to the domestic retail market. To cater to these consumers’ demands, apart from strengthening the manpower in our mainland warehouses, we also offered clients the cross-border e-commerce retail import logistics solution.” “High-end fashion items and wine imported through the general import channel are subject to customs tariffs, VAT and consumption tax levied by the mainland government. Products imported in the form of cross-border e-commerce retail transactions, however, enjoy relatively lower tax rates overall. Therefore, during the pandemic, many high-end fashion and wine suppliers were interested in expanding into cross-border e-commerce retail imports, and enhancing their sales and brand awareness by launching online sales.” “We are now co-operating with two famous mainland e-commerce platforms which have helped open online shops for up-market fashion and wine businesses, as well as track sales data to gain insights. On our part, we assist in handling logistics and customs declaration for these companies.” “The response so far has been very positive. A bottle of fine wine from Europe can be delivered to a mainland consumer from Hong Kong within five to eight days after an order is placed.” In addition to the new cross-border e-commerce retail avenue, the Hainan Free Trade Port is emerging as a premier destination for mainland consumers seeking high-end fashion and wine. Elaborating on the company’s business in Hainan, Cheung said: “Since Hainan rolled out the duty-free shopping policy for travellers1 in July 2020, the Hainan Island has quickly turned into a ‘shopping paradise’ for high-end fashion and wine. CN Logistics has assisted high-end fashion and wine companies in shipping their goods from Guangzhou and Hong Kong to Hainan for sale. Moreover, we also took part in the first China International Consumer Products Expo in Haikou in May this year. Hainan’s development prospects are most promising, and it will be a key focus of our business going forward.”

Corporate social responsibility

The society is placing increasing emphasis on green supply chain management. Where high-end consumer goods are concerned, consumers care particularly about whether enterprises are using more eco-friendly packaging materials. Detailing CN Logistics’ initiative to offer green supply chain solutions, Cheung said: “The concept of ‘circular economy’ 2is extremely relevant to the up-market fashion and wine businesses, as such products require more packaging materials than other goods to ensure that they are properly stored and transported. Meanwhile, fashion items, often being seasonal and susceptible to changing trends, have relatively shorter product cycles. These factors, together with consumers’ rising environmental awareness, means that businesses have a keen demand for green supply chain solutions.” CN Logistics supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, under which recycling and carbon emissions reduction are incorporated into day-to-day business operations. Cheung spelled out the company’s environment protection efforts, saying: “First, we provide clients with specially designed recyclable cartons supplied by our e-commerce platform partners. Using such cartons forms part of our co-operation agreement with the platforms in order to reduce the quantity of cartons discarded.” “Second, we provide services collecting recyclable materials from our clients, such as plastic bags, clothes hangers, cosmetics plastic bottles, used clothes donated by consumers, etc. These materials will then be handed over to our recycling partners.” “Third, we started a trial using electric vehicles delivering goods to and from our distribution centres in Hong Kong and mainland China this year. Fourth, through supporting projects listed on the United Nations Carbon Offset Platform, we strive to promote carbon neutrality. In 2020-21, we achieved a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 6,403 tonnes of carbon dioxide.” These green efforts have contributed to significant improvements in the company’s carbon footprint, despite not improving its bottom line directly. Cheung said: “These projects have enabled our clients to participate in building a circular economy and lowering carbon emissions, and can form part of their companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives.” “Frankly, providing such green supply chain solutions to clients does not generate profit for us. Take collecting clients’ recyclable materials as an example: we have to deploy staff to help sort materials and pay for recyclers to handle them. Yet, we acknowledge that environmental protection is an irresistible trend and a common responsibility for every business in the logistics sector.”


Amidst all the changes in Hong Kong’s logistics sector in recent years, CN Logistics continues to maintain its leading status. Cheung believes that the company’s success lies in its strong sense of preparedness for the future, saying: “Many of our client services were conceived and planned years ago. Cross-border e-commerce retail imports is a case in point. As early as in 2013 when cross-border e-commerce retail imports began to catch on in the mainland, we were already keeping close tabs on changes in the relevant policies and searching for possible opportunities. “Our formula for success is to stay alert and sensitive to market developments all the time and constantly explore ways to enhance our services in keeping with market changes.” Cheung advised Hong Kong companies to capitalise on their key advantages, saying: “Hong Kong companies’ strengths have always been their flexibility and international outlook. They should capitalise on Hong Kong’s advantages as one of the world’s freest economies as well as strong global connections to provide clients with world-class custom-made services. “For the logistics industry in particular, it should be noted that the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 specifies that support will be rendered to Hong Kong to raise its status as a centre of international finance, shipping and trade, and an international aviation hub.3Good opportunities will also arise from the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Hong Kong companies that can maintain their agility and international horizon will certainly be able to seize the upcoming opportunities and scale new heights.”  

Source: HKTDC Research