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

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H2o limitations are set up outside the Hong Kong Conference and Exhibition Centre, forward of the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China June 29, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik/File Image

HONG KONG, June 30 (Reuters) – Business executives in Hong Kong have a wish record for its new chief: scrap COVID-19 quarantine procedures, and market the rule of legislation and transparent restrictions to revive foreign investor assurance – in advance of the territory becomes a hardship posting.

Former security chief John Lee, who gets to be chief government of the former British colony on Friday, requires to reboot the after-teeming world-wide economical hub, eight small business leaders stated, for the reason that its border has proficiently been sealed considering the fact that 2020 and worldwide arrivals subject to stringent quarantine and testing protocols.

These actions, which includes 1 week of required resort quarantine, and stool tests of infants for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives said.

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“Hong Kong, once one of the most sought-right after postings for executives, has come to be a hardship posting owing to the absence of international connectivity,” mentioned Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association, which has been battered by the restrictions.

“The initially phase is to resume quarantine-cost-free vacation to the city,” he added. “We are nearly the past spot in the world that even now necessitates travellers to quarantine upon arrival and this need to improve as quickly as feasible. The future phase is a important PR exercising to get men and women to come.”

Hong Kong’s when-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with numerous well-liked bars empty on what would commonly be packed weekends. The town noticed a internet outflow of more than 134,000 persons in the initially fifty percent of this year, in contrast with just 1,813 in the similar time period of 2021.

Information shows people leaving the city for very good withdrew a overall of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the preceding calendar year. For the first quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – federal government-mandated personal savings, which departing citizens can money out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a year earlier, the most recent data displays.

Hong Kong has attempted to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” strategy. But unlike in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, household to extra than 7 million people, stays extremely reliant on intercontinental journey and company.

Expertise, companies and conventions have still left in droves for sites these types of as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with far more than a few years of turbulence, beginning with anti-authorities protests in 2019.

In a sign of the city’s expanding remoteness from the relaxation of the location, Citigroup main government Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have each frequented Singapore in the previous two months, outings that would ordinarily include Hong Kong, to go to crucial banking clients and senior workers.


Lee is confronted with handling the desires of the intercontinental group and the community neighborhood, whose precedence is to open up with mainland China, mentioned federal government adviser Bernard Chan, a convener for the city’s Government Council and a deputy to China’s Countrywide People’s Congress.

The federal government “cannot just forego China for the worldwide marketplace, I imagine if we send that information the area community will be upset. Handling both is basically extremely difficult for the future administration.”

Whilst lots of Asia Pacific-headquartered enterprises have remaining, all those whose organization largely relates to China would however prefer Hong Kong, Chan explained. Even so, the town needs to increase its liveability to lure back expertise.

“It’s not just about executing enterprise, its where by you set your loved ones, education, college,” he said. “If we keep on to enhance on that then we can be aggressive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will take time since this time about we have place a halt to Hong Kong.”

Some executives are however optimistic on the outlook for Hong Kong as a finance hub, and they imagine it will remain the springboard for accessing mainland China. go through more

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of legislation and transparent regulatory technique is crucial for drawing back again expertise, reported Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Alternative Expense Management Affiliation.

“The new administration should concentrate on what are the crucial aspects that travel Hong Kong’s aggressive benefits in opposition to the growing tide of level of competition at a time when men and women are leaving,” Lee mentioned.

A timetable for opening to the rest of the world and a new promoting group to revitalise Hong Kong’s graphic are important, said Stewart Aldcroft, a cash administration expert who has been in Hong Kong for 37 a long time.

Lee must begin by stanching the outflow of talent, claimed Sally Wong, chief executive of at the Hong Kong Expenditure Money Affiliation.

“The for a longer time we delay opening up, the far more we are turning absent talent,” Wong mentioned. “Proficiently, we are chipping away our competitiveness.”

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Supplemental reporting by Clare Jim and Kane Wu Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Benchmarks: The Thomson Reuters Belief Concepts.


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