Business leaders say new Hong Kong chief must open up city, rebuild its image

Pat J. Fraley


H2o barriers are established up outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, ahead of the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China June 29, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik/File Picture

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HONG KONG, June 30 (Reuters) – Organization executives in Hong Kong have a desire list for its new leader: scrap COVID-19 quarantine procedures, and encourage the rule of law and transparent rules to revive foreign trader assurance – just before the territory results in being a hardship submitting.

Previous stability main John Lee, who will become main govt of the former British colony on Friday, desires to reboot the when-teeming world wide economical hub, eight organization leaders reported, mainly because its border has proficiently been sealed given that 2020 and global arrivals issue to stringent quarantine and screening protocols.

These actions, such as one week of obligatory lodge quarantine, and stool screening of babies for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives said.

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“Hong Kong, when a person of the most sought-following postings for executives, has come to be a hardship publishing owing to the deficiency of intercontinental connectivity,” reported Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Conference Sector Affiliation, which has been battered by the restrictions.

“The initial move is to resume quarantine-totally free vacation to the city,” he included. “We are practically the final put in the planet that still demands travellers to quarantine upon arrival and this will have to alter as quickly as doable. The upcoming action is a major PR exercising to get people to occur.”

Hong Kong’s the moment-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with quite a few well-liked bars vacant on what would typically be packed weekends. The city observed a web outflow of additional than 134,000 people in the initially 50 % of this calendar year, as opposed with just 1,813 in the exact interval of 2021.

Knowledge displays residents leaving the city for great withdrew a whole of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the previous year. For the first quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – authorities-mandated personal savings, which departing people can dollars out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a 12 months before, the most up-to-date data shows.

Hong Kong has tried out to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” approach. But contrary to in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, household to extra than 7 million individuals, remains remarkably reliant on intercontinental travel and small business.

Talent, businesses and conventions have still left in droves for sites these kinds of as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with more than a few many years of turbulence, starting up with anti-govt protests in 2019.

In a sign of the city’s developing remoteness from the rest of the region, Citigroup main executive Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have equally visited Singapore in the previous two months, excursions that would typically involve Hong Kong, to visit critical banking consumers and senior staff.


Lee is confronted with running the desires of the global community and the area local community, whose precedence is to open up up with mainland China, stated federal government adviser Bernard Chan, a convener for the city’s Govt Council and a deputy to China’s Nationwide People’s Congress.

The government “cannot just forego China for the worldwide market, I imagine if we deliver that message the neighborhood community will be upset. Running both of those is basically really complicated for the upcoming administration.”

Even though many Asia Pacific-headquartered businesses have left, those people whose enterprise mostly relates to China would continue to choose Hong Kong, Chan mentioned. However, the town requires to improve its liveability to entice back expertise.

“It’s not just about executing business, its where you place your household, training, school,” he explained. “If we continue on to enhance on that then we can be competitive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will acquire time simply because this time close to we have set a halt to Hong Kong.”

Some executives are continue to optimistic on the outlook for Hong Kong as a finance hub, and they think it will remain the springboard for accessing mainland China. read much more

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of regulation and transparent regulatory method is essential for drawing again expertise, claimed Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Option Financial commitment Administration Association.

“The new administration will have to concentrate on what are the essential aspects that drive Hong Kong’s aggressive pros in opposition to the growing tide of competitiveness at a time when persons are leaving,” Lee stated.

A timetable for opening to the rest of the planet and a new advertising crew to revitalise Hong Kong’s graphic are very important, mentioned Stewart Aldcroft, a funds administration marketing consultant who has been in Hong Kong for 37 many years.

Lee need to begin by stanching the outflow of talent, reported Sally Wong, main government of at the Hong Kong Financial commitment Cash Affiliation.

“The extended we hold off opening up, the extra we are turning absent expertise,” Wong said. “Proficiently, we are chipping away our competitiveness.”

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Additional reporting by Clare Jim and Kane Wu Enhancing by Gerry Doyle

Our Benchmarks: The Thomson Reuters Rely on Rules.


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