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


H2o boundaries are established up exterior 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) – Organization executives in Hong Kong have a would like record for its new chief: scrap COVID-19 quarantine regulations, and promote the rule of legislation and clear laws to revive international investor assurance – right before the territory gets a hardship submitting.

Previous stability chief John Lee, who gets to be main executive of the former British colony on Friday, wants to reboot the at the time-teeming worldwide money hub, 8 business leaders mentioned, since its border has effectively been sealed due to the fact 2020 and global arrivals issue to stringent quarantine and tests protocols.

These actions, including one 7 days of necessary hotel quarantine, and stool tests of babies for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives reported.

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“Hong Kong, as soon as just one of the most sought-right after postings for executives, has become a hardship posting because of to the deficiency of worldwide connectivity,” mentioned Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Conference Business Association, which has been battered by the constraints.

“The to start with stage is to resume quarantine-totally free journey to the town,” he additional. “We are almost the past put in the earth that even now calls for travellers to quarantine on arrival and this must alter as before long as achievable. The subsequent phase is a major PR workout to get people today to appear.”

Hong Kong’s when-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with numerous popular bars empty on what would ordinarily be packed weekends. The town noticed a net outflow of far more than 134,000 men and women in the 1st 50 percent of this year, when compared with just 1,813 in the exact period of time of 2021.

Info demonstrates inhabitants leaving the metropolis for fantastic withdrew a full of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the former year. For the initially quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – governing administration-mandated cost savings, which departing citizens can funds out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a 12 months before, the most up-to-date info demonstrates.

Hong Kong has tried using to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” strategy. But contrary to in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, household to additional than 7 million persons, remains very reliant on intercontinental vacation and organization.

Expertise, businesses and conventions have still left in droves for spots this kind of as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with additional than a few several years of turbulence, commencing with anti-govt protests in 2019.

In a signal of the city’s escalating remoteness from the relaxation of the location, Citigroup main government Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have both frequented Singapore in the past two months, outings that would usually contain Hong Kong, to visit vital banking customers and senior staff members.


Lee is confronted with handling the requires of the worldwide neighborhood and the neighborhood community, whose priority is to open up with mainland China, mentioned government adviser Bernard Chan, a convener for the city’s Govt Council and a deputy to China’s Countrywide People’s Congress.

The federal government “cannot just forego China for the worldwide industry, I imagine if we mail that message the community neighborhood will be upset. Controlling both equally is actually incredibly hard for the next administration.”

When quite a few Asia Pacific-headquartered companies have remaining, individuals whose business mainly relates to China would continue to desire Hong Kong, Chan stated. Even so, the city demands to strengthen its liveability to entice back again talent.

“It’s not just about carrying out business enterprise, its where you put your spouse and children, education, faculty,” he stated. “If we keep on to increase on that then we can be competitive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will just take time since this time all-around we have set a halt to Hong Kong.”

Some executives are still optimistic on the outlook for Hong Kong as a finance hub, and they believe it will remain the springboard for accessing mainland China. study more

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of regulation and transparent regulatory technique is important for drawing back again talent, explained Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Option Investment Management Affiliation.

“The new administration need to concentration on what are the vital components that generate Hong Kong’s aggressive pros from the mounting tide of competitiveness at a time when folks are leaving,” Lee said.

A timetable for opening to the rest of the earth and a new promoting staff to revitalise Hong Kong’s picture are critical, said Stewart Aldcroft, a funds management advisor who has been in Hong Kong for 37 a long time.

Lee have to begin by stanching the outflow of talent, mentioned Sally Wong, chief govt of at the Hong Kong Financial commitment Cash Association.

“The more time we delay opening up, the much more we are turning away talent,” Wong explained. “Efficiently, we are chipping absent our competitiveness.”

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

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Have faith in Principles.

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