What are the differences between a China sourcing agent and a Hong Kong sourcing agent ? Answer : the location of settlement and location of operation.
First you have to know that although Hong Kong belong to china, Hong Kong laws and Chinese are laws are totally dissociated. For example a few points demonstrating this :
– a Hong Kong company can not operate in directly legally in China. This is in the Chinese law: a Hong Kong company can not employ Chinese mainland based employee in direct. A Chinese structure is required to do so.
– a Hong Kong company can not export by itself some goods from China as not being a Chinese legal entity. A Hong Kong company can not be granted with export right (and a shipping agent based in Hong Kong is not granted with custom clearance right either).
What are the involvement then:
– First quite often Hong Kong based company (having no legal representation for operations in China) will have a less important presence on the ground than their counter part. It usually means that control on supplier is much less performed than with than if you are already on site. To picture this, imagine you are living and working in Hong Kong and the productions of your client are in Shenzhen (the city just nearby). Going from Hong Kong downtown to Shenzhen downtown takes already almost two hours (and this is the downtown). Knowing that inspection and meeting at supplier start at 9am, it means you would need to wake up at 6am to go for a meeting at the supplier place. 90% of human being usually like to stay in the comfort zone (this is human nature). So naturally, you are not going to be willing to go often to visit suppliers.
If you are based in Shenzhen and your suppliers are in Shenzhen, going to downtown take 30 minutes from any part of the mainline of metro crossing the city, you are willing to visit.
What you need to make sure is that if you use a china buying agent for your procurement then he/she should do the work properly as if he/she was a Hong Kong or a foreigner.
In conclusion, there is no real advantage of working with a Hong Kong based buying agent.