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

Water boundaries are set up outdoors the Hong Kong Convention 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) – Small business executives in Hong Kong have a would like listing for its new chief: scrap COVID-19 quarantine guidelines, and encourage the rule of law and transparent restrictions to revive overseas trader self-assurance – just before the territory gets a hardship submitting.

Previous safety chief John Lee, who becomes main govt of the former British colony on Friday, demands to reboot the the moment-teeming international monetary hub, eight business leaders said, due to the fact its border has proficiently been sealed due to the fact 2020 and international arrivals subject to stringent quarantine and testing protocols.

These steps, such as a single week of mandatory lodge quarantine, and stool screening of infants for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives claimed.

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“Hong Kong, once one of the most sought-after postings for executives, has become a hardship publishing owing to the lack of international connectivity,” stated Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Conference Business Association, which has been battered by the restrictions.

“The first step is to resume quarantine-no cost travel to the city,” he extra. “We are practically the very last spot in the planet that even now involves travellers to quarantine upon arrival and this will have to change as soon as possible. The up coming step is a significant PR work out to get folks to appear.”

Hong Kong’s at the time-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with a lot of preferred bars vacant on what would typically be packed weekends. The town saw a net outflow of extra than 134,000 folks in the initial 50 % of this calendar year, in contrast with just 1,813 in the same interval of 2021.

Facts displays people leaving the metropolis for very good withdrew a complete of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the earlier 12 months. For the initial quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – government-mandated cost savings, which departing people can dollars out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a calendar year earlier, the latest info exhibits.

Hong Kong has attempted to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” solution. But contrary to in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, house to a lot more than 7 million people, continues to be remarkably reliant on international vacation and small business.

Expertise, businesses and conventions have remaining in droves for sites these kinds of as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with much more than three several years of turbulence, commencing with anti-govt protests in 2019.

In a sign of the city’s expanding remoteness from the relaxation of the location, Citigroup chief government Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have equally visited Singapore in the past two months, journeys that would typically include things like Hong Kong, to visit critical banking customers and senior personnel.


Lee is faced with taking care of the requires of the international community and the area community, whose precedence is to open up with mainland China, said authorities adviser Bernard Chan, a convener for the city’s Government Council and a deputy to China’s National People’s Congress.

The govt “cannot just forego China for the international industry, I imagine if we send that information the nearby group will be upset. Managing both equally is truly very demanding for the subsequent administration.”

When several Asia Pacific-headquartered companies have remaining, these whose organization largely relates to China would still favor Hong Kong, Chan mentioned. On the other hand, the metropolis wants to improve its liveability to entice back again talent.

“It’s not just about accomplishing small business, its where you set your family, schooling, university,” he explained. “If we carry on to improve on that then we can be aggressive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will consider time simply because this time close to we have set a halt to Hong Kong.”

Some executives are nonetheless optimistic on the outlook for Hong Kong as a finance hub, and they imagine it will continue being the springboard for accessing mainland China. go through extra

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of legislation and transparent regulatory process is vital for drawing again expertise, mentioned Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Alternative Investment decision Management Association.

“The new administration must focus on what are the crucial elements that drive Hong Kong’s aggressive positive aspects in opposition to the growing tide of competitiveness at a time when persons are leaving,” Lee explained.

A timetable for opening to the relaxation of the globe and a new advertising and marketing workforce to revitalise Hong Kong’s impression are essential, mentioned Stewart Aldcroft, a funds management advisor who has been in Hong Kong for 37 many years.

Lee have to begin by stanching the outflow of talent, stated Sally Wong, main govt of at the Hong Kong Investment Funds Affiliation.

“The for a longer period we delay opening up, the extra we are turning absent talent,” Wong claimed. “Proficiently, we are chipping away our competitiveness.”

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

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.