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


Drinking water obstacles are set up outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, in advance of the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China June 29, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik/File Photograph

HONG KONG, June 30 (Reuters) – Business enterprise executives in Hong Kong have a would like checklist for its new leader: scrap COVID-19 quarantine guidelines, and boost the rule of law and clear polices to revive overseas trader assurance – before the territory becomes a hardship posting.

Previous safety main John Lee, who gets to be chief executive of the previous British colony on Friday, desires to reboot the the moment-teeming world financial hub, eight small business leaders claimed, due to the fact its border has effectively been sealed due to the fact 2020 and international arrivals issue to stringent quarantine and testing protocols.

These steps, such as just one week of obligatory resort quarantine, and stool screening of toddlers for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives mentioned.

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“Hong Kong, at the time just one of the most sought-following postings for executives, has grow to be a hardship putting up because of to the deficiency of intercontinental connectivity,” reported Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Conference Marketplace Association, which has been battered by the constraints.

“The initially stage is to resume quarantine-no cost travel to the city,” he extra. “We are practically the past spot in the entire world that nevertheless necessitates travellers to quarantine upon arrival and this should adjust as shortly as doable. The following step is a key PR training to get persons to come.”

Hong Kong’s when-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with a lot of common bars empty on what would usually be packed weekends. The metropolis observed a internet outflow of extra than 134,000 folks in the first 50 % of this yr, as opposed with just 1,813 in the same period of time of 2021.

Information demonstrates residents leaving the city for very good withdrew a overall of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the previous 12 months. For the 1st quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – government-mandated savings, which departing residents can dollars out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a year earlier, the most up-to-date data displays.

Hong Kong has attempted to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” tactic. But as opposed to in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, residence to far more than 7 million men and women, continues to be extremely reliant on international vacation and organization.

Talent, organizations and conventions have left in droves for areas these types of as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with additional than a few several years of turbulence, starting up with anti-federal government protests in 2019.

In a signal of the city’s escalating remoteness from the rest of the location, Citigroup chief executive Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have each frequented Singapore in the previous two months, trips that would commonly incorporate Hong Kong, to take a look at key banking customers and senior staff members.


Lee is confronted with running the requires of the international local community and the local community, whose precedence is to open up with mainland China, claimed governing administration adviser Bernard Chan, a convener for the city’s Government Council and a deputy to China’s Nationwide People’s Congress.

The government “cannot just forego China for the global sector, I consider if we ship that information the local group will be upset. Controlling equally is actually extremely hard for the upcoming administration.”

Even though numerous Asia Pacific-headquartered organizations have remaining, all those whose company largely relates to China would nonetheless favor Hong Kong, Chan explained. Having said that, the city demands to improve its liveability to lure back expertise.

“It’s not just about accomplishing small business, its where by you put your family members, instruction, college,” he stated. “If we carry on to improve on that then we can be aggressive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will choose time due to the fact this time all around we have place a halt to Hong Kong.”

Some executives are still optimistic on the outlook for Hong Kong as a finance hub, and they feel it will stay the springboard for accessing mainland China. read a lot more

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of regulation and clear regulatory process is significant for drawing back again talent, explained Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Choice Expense Administration Association.

“The new administration need to aim on what are the critical aspects that drive Hong Kong’s aggressive rewards from the mounting tide of opposition at a time when people are leaving,” Lee said.

A timetable for opening to the relaxation of the globe and a new advertising team to revitalise Hong Kong’s impression are critical, mentioned Stewart Aldcroft, a resources management consultant who has been in Hong Kong for 37 yrs.

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 longer we hold off opening up, the additional we are turning away expertise,” Wong stated. “Effectively, we are chipping away our competitiveness.”

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Further reporting by Clare Jim and Kane Wu Modifying by Gerry Doyle

Our Criteria: The Thomson Reuters Believe in Principles.


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