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

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H2o obstacles are set up outside the Hong Kong Conference 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 enterprise executives in Hong Kong have a want list for its new chief: scrap COVID-19 quarantine rules, and advertise the rule of legislation and transparent laws to revive foreign investor self esteem – before the territory will become a hardship putting up.

Previous protection chief John Lee, who becomes main government of the previous British colony on Friday, demands to reboot the when-teeming global fiscal hub, eight organization leaders mentioned, simply because its border has properly been sealed given that 2020 and intercontinental arrivals subject to stringent quarantine and testing protocols.

These steps, such as a single week of mandatory hotel quarantine, and stool tests of babies for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives explained.

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“Hong Kong, as soon as one particular of the most sought-immediately after postings for executives, has become a hardship publishing due to the absence of international connectivity,” mentioned Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Conference Business Association, which has been battered by the limits.

“The initially phase is to resume quarantine-free travel to the metropolis,” he included. “We are just about the final spot in the globe that even now demands travellers to quarantine on arrival and this ought to transform as quickly as doable. The upcoming step is a main PR work out to get persons to appear.”

Hong Kong’s the moment-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with several popular bars vacant on what would typically be packed weekends. The metropolis saw a web outflow of additional than 134,000 people today in the initial half of this 12 months, in comparison with just 1,813 in the exact same period of time of 2021.

Knowledge reveals citizens leaving the town for good withdrew a full of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the previous calendar year. For the 1st quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – government-mandated discounts, which departing people can money out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a yr before, the most recent data reveals.

Hong Kong has tried using to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” tactic. But not like in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, home to more than 7 million people, remains remarkably reliant on international journey and business.

Expertise, firms and conventions have left in droves for areas these as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with more than three many years of turbulence, commencing with anti-authorities protests in 2019.

In a indicator of the city’s rising remoteness from the rest of the area, Citigroup chief executive Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have the two visited Singapore in the earlier two months, visits that would typically include Hong Kong, to stop by important banking shoppers and senior personnel.

‘HALT TO HONG KONG’

Lee is confronted with taking care of the needs of the intercontinental neighborhood and the neighborhood group, whose priority is to open up up with mainland China, stated governing administration adviser Bernard Chan, a convener for the city’s Govt Council and a deputy to China’s Nationwide People’s Congress.

The govt “cannot just forego China for the global market, I believe if we deliver that concept the local group will be upset. Controlling both is in fact quite demanding for the following administration.”

Even though several Asia Pacific-headquartered corporations have remaining, people whose enterprise mainly relates to China would still desire Hong Kong, Chan stated. On the other hand, the town demands to strengthen its liveability to entice again talent.

“It’s not just about accomplishing enterprise, its the place you put your family members, education, faculty,” he reported. “If we proceed to strengthen on that then we can be aggressive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will get time simply because this time close to we have put a halt to Hong Kong.”

Some executives are however optimistic on the outlook for Hong Kong as a finance hub, and they think it will continue being the springboard for accessing mainland China. read through far more

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of legislation and clear regulatory method is vital for drawing back again talent, claimed Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Alternative Financial investment Administration Association.

“The new administration will have to emphasis on what are the critical variables that drive Hong Kong’s competitive advantages in opposition to the rising tide of opposition at a time when persons are leaving,” Lee reported.

A timetable for opening to the relaxation of the world and a new advertising and marketing staff to revitalise Hong Kong’s graphic are important, claimed Stewart Aldcroft, a resources administration specialist who has been in Hong Kong for 37 many years.

Lee have to start by stanching the outflow of expertise, explained Sally Wong, chief government of at the Hong Kong Investment Cash Association.

“The extended we hold off opening up, the much more we are turning absent expertise,” Wong said. “Efficiently, we are chipping absent our competitiveness.”

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

Our Criteria: The Thomson Reuters Rely on Ideas.

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