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

ByKristen Amber

Jul 6, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Drinking water boundaries are established 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 Photo

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HONG KONG, June 30 (Reuters) – Small business executives in Hong Kong have a wish record for its new leader: scrap COVID-19 quarantine principles, and promote the rule of law and transparent rules to revive overseas investor self-assurance – ahead of the territory becomes a hardship posting.

Former protection chief John Lee, who gets main govt of the former British colony on Friday, wants to reboot the at the time-teeming world wide monetary hub, 8 business enterprise leaders mentioned, since its border has properly been sealed given that 2020 and global arrivals topic to stringent quarantine and tests protocols.

These actions, including a single 7 days of obligatory resort quarantine, and stool tests of babies for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives mentioned.

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“Hong Kong, when one of the most sought-soon after postings for executives, has develop into a hardship publishing due to the lack of global connectivity,” reported Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Conference Market Affiliation, which has been battered by the restrictions.

“The 1st step is to resume quarantine-no cost journey to the metropolis,” he extra. “We are pretty much the very last place in the planet that continue to calls for travellers to quarantine on arrival and this should improve as shortly as possible. The following move is a big PR work out to get folks to arrive.”

Hong Kong’s once-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with numerous preferred bars vacant on what would ordinarily be packed weekends. The metropolis observed a web outflow of much more than 134,000 people in the 1st half of this yr, in comparison with just 1,813 in the exact same interval of 2021.

Information reveals inhabitants leaving the metropolis for good withdrew a full of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the earlier 12 months. For the first quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – govt-mandated discounts, which departing citizens can dollars out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a calendar year previously, the most up-to-date details reveals.

Hong Kong has tried out to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” method. But not like in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, property to more than 7 million men and women, remains remarkably reliant on international travel and enterprise.

Expertise, corporations and conventions have left in droves for areas this sort of as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with much more than 3 a long time of turbulence, starting off with anti-federal government protests in 2019.

In a signal of the city’s rising remoteness from the rest of the location, Citigroup main executive Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have equally visited Singapore in the past two months, outings that would typically consist of Hong Kong, to take a look at essential banking customers and senior staff.

‘HALT TO HONG KONG’

Lee is confronted with managing the desires of the global local community and the regional local community, whose priority is to open up with mainland China, claimed govt adviser Bernard Chan, a convener for the city’s Govt Council and a deputy to China’s National People’s Congress.

The govt “cannot just forego China for the international marketplace, I think if we send out that information the community community will be upset. Taking care of equally is actually quite tough for the upcoming administration.”

While numerous Asia Pacific-headquartered companies have still left, those whose organization mainly relates to China would nonetheless desire Hong Kong, Chan explained. Nonetheless, the town desires to strengthen its liveability to entice back expertise.

“It’s not just about performing business, its wherever you put your family members, education, university,” he mentioned. “If we carry on to strengthen on that then we can be aggressive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will take time for the reason that this time all over we have set a halt to Hong Kong.”

Some executives are even now optimistic on the outlook for Hong Kong as a finance hub, and they believe it will continue being the springboard for accessing mainland China. examine additional

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of legislation and transparent regulatory technique is critical for drawing back again talent, explained Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Different Investment Administration Association.

“The new administration ought to target on what are the important things that push Hong Kong’s competitive strengths from the soaring tide of competition at a time when men and women are leaving,” Lee said.

A timetable for opening to the rest of the entire world and a new marketing crew to revitalise Hong Kong’s graphic are important, claimed Stewart Aldcroft, a cash administration advisor who has been in Hong Kong for 37 several years.

Lee ought to commence by stanching the outflow of expertise, explained Sally Wong, main govt of at the Hong Kong Investment decision Money Affiliation.

“The more time we hold off opening up, the more we are turning absent expertise,” Wong explained. “Effectively, we are chipping away our competitiveness.”

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

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