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


Drinking water limitations are established up outside the house 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 Photo

HONG KONG, June 30 (Reuters) – Business executives in Hong Kong have a want checklist for its new chief: scrap COVID-19 quarantine regulations, and market the rule of law and clear rules to revive foreign trader self confidence – just before the territory becomes a hardship publishing.

Former safety main John Lee, who will become main govt of the former British colony on Friday, requirements to reboot the at the time-teeming world-wide financial hub, eight small business leaders reported, due to the fact its border has properly been sealed due to the fact 2020 and global arrivals subject to stringent quarantine and screening protocols.

These actions, including one week of necessary lodge quarantine, and stool tests of toddlers for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives reported.

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“Hong Kong, the moment a single of the most sought-after postings for executives, has become a hardship publishing thanks to the absence of international connectivity,” explained Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Conference Industry Association, which has been battered by the constraints.

“The 1st step is to resume quarantine-totally free vacation to the town,” he extra. “We are practically the previous spot in the world that even now necessitates travellers to quarantine upon arrival and this need to transform as quickly as achievable. The next move is a big PR exercising to get people to appear.”

Hong Kong’s at the time-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with lots of popular bars empty on what would typically be packed weekends. The town saw a net outflow of more than 134,000 persons in the 1st fifty percent of this calendar year, in comparison with just 1,813 in the similar period of time of 2021.

Facts shows people leaving the town for excellent withdrew a whole of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the prior yr. For the initial quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – govt-mandated cost savings, which departing residents can dollars out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a calendar year before, the most up-to-date information displays.

Hong Kong has attempted to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” solution. But compared with in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, dwelling to far more than 7 million men and women, stays extremely reliant on worldwide journey and business enterprise.

Talent, corporations and conventions have remaining in droves for destinations these types of as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with a lot more than three yrs of turbulence, starting off with anti-authorities protests in 2019.

In a indication of the city’s increasing remoteness from the relaxation of the area, Citigroup chief executive Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have both equally visited Singapore in the earlier two months, journeys that would normally contain Hong Kong, to stop by important banking shoppers and senior staff members.


Lee is confronted with managing the demands of the intercontinental group and the neighborhood neighborhood, whose priority is to open up up with mainland China, said govt adviser Bernard Chan, a convener for the city’s Govt Council and a deputy to China’s National People’s Congress.

The government “cannot just forego China for the intercontinental market, I feel if we ship that concept the area local community will be upset. Controlling both equally is in fact extremely complicated for the subsequent administration.”

While several Asia Pacific-headquartered firms have left, those people whose business enterprise mostly relates to China would still want Hong Kong, Chan mentioned. Even so, the town wants to strengthen its liveability to entice back again expertise.

“It’s not just about carrying out business, its exactly where you place your family members, schooling, faculty,” he reported. “If we carry on to improve on that then we can be competitive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will get time since this time around 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 that it will continue being the springboard for accessing mainland China. go through much more

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of legislation and transparent regulatory process is critical for drawing again talent, said Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Option Investment decision Management Association.

“The new administration should concentrate on what are the vital elements that generate Hong Kong’s competitive rewards towards the mounting tide of competitors at a time when people are leaving,” Lee said.

A timetable for opening to the relaxation of the earth and a new internet marketing workforce to revitalise Hong Kong’s image are crucial, said Stewart Aldcroft, a money administration consultant who has been in Hong Kong for 37 years.

Lee ought to start off by stanching the outflow of expertise, reported Sally Wong, main executive of at the Hong Kong Expense Money Association.

“The lengthier we delay opening up, the far more we are turning absent talent,” Wong claimed. “Correctly, we are chipping away our competitiveness.”

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

Our Expectations: The Thomson Reuters Believe in Concepts.

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