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

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Drinking water limitations are set up outside 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 Photograph

HONG KONG, June 30 (Reuters) – Small business executives in Hong Kong have a wish list for its new leader: scrap COVID-19 quarantine procedures, and endorse the rule of law and transparent rules to revive overseas investor self-assurance – just before the territory results in being a hardship submitting.

Former safety main John Lee, who turns into main executive of the former British colony on Friday, needs to reboot the once-teeming global money hub, 8 business enterprise leaders stated, since its border has successfully been sealed since 2020 and worldwide arrivals subject matter to stringent quarantine and tests protocols.

These measures, which include a single 7 days of obligatory resort quarantine, and stool tests of babies for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives reported.

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“Hong Kong, at the time a person of the most sought-following postings for executives, has turn out to be a hardship submitting thanks to the absence of worldwide connectivity,” mentioned Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Business Association, which has been battered by the restrictions.

“The initial action is to resume quarantine-totally free vacation to the city,” he additional. “We are pretty much the past place in the globe that nevertheless calls for travellers to quarantine upon arrival and this ought to change as soon as doable. The upcoming phase is a major PR physical exercise to get men and women to appear.”

Hong Kong’s the moment-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with quite a few well-liked bars empty on what would typically be packed weekends. The metropolis noticed a web outflow of a lot more than 134,000 men and women in the very first 50 % of this calendar year, in contrast with just 1,813 in the very same period of 2021.

Information reveals people leaving the town for good withdrew a complete of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the past yr. For the 1st quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – govt-mandated personal savings, which departing inhabitants can money out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a calendar year previously, the most up-to-date info reveals.

Hong Kong has tried to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” solution. But not like in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, home to far more than 7 million persons, stays very reliant on global vacation and small business.

Talent, companies and conventions have still left in droves for areas these types of as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with a lot more than three many years of turbulence, beginning with anti-government protests in 2019.

In a signal of the city’s escalating remoteness from the relaxation of the area, Citigroup chief executive Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have equally frequented Singapore in the past two months, outings that would typically consist of Hong Kong, to go to vital banking shoppers and senior staff members.


Lee is confronted with managing the wants of the worldwide group and the local group, whose precedence is to open up with mainland China, mentioned federal government 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 worldwide marketplace, I imagine if we deliver that concept the neighborhood group will be upset. Managing both is in fact incredibly demanding for the upcoming administration.”

When numerous Asia Pacific-headquartered enterprises have still left, all those whose business largely relates to China would even now want Hong Kong, Chan reported. On the other hand, the metropolis requires to boost its liveability to entice back again talent.

“It’s not just about accomplishing company, its the place you put your family members, training, college,” he reported. “If we continue to enhance on that then we can be competitive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will consider time due to the fact this time all around 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 feel it will continue being the springboard for accessing mainland China. read through much more

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of legislation and transparent regulatory program is vital for drawing back again expertise, explained Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Option Financial investment Management Association.

“The new administration have to emphasis on what are the vital things that drive Hong Kong’s aggressive strengths in opposition to the increasing tide of level of competition at a time when people are leaving,” Lee mentioned.

A timetable for opening to the rest of the earth and a new internet marketing group to revitalise Hong Kong’s image are important, claimed Stewart Aldcroft, a funds administration marketing consultant who has been in Hong Kong for 37 yrs.

Lee ought to start out by stanching the outflow of talent, said Sally Wong, main executive of at the Hong Kong Investment Money Affiliation.

“The extended we delay opening up, the much more we are turning away expertise,” Wong said. “Effectively, we are chipping absent our competitiveness.”

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

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Have confidence in Ideas.