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

Water barriers are set up exterior 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 Picture

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HONG KONG, June 30 (Reuters) – Company executives in Hong Kong have a want listing for its new chief: scrap COVID-19 quarantine policies, and market the rule of legislation and clear laws to revive overseas investor self confidence – in advance of the territory becomes a hardship publishing.

Previous stability main John Lee, who turns into chief government of the previous British colony on Friday, desires to reboot the when-teeming world wide fiscal hub, 8 business enterprise leaders explained, for the reason that its border has proficiently been sealed considering the fact that 2020 and worldwide arrivals subject matter to stringent quarantine and testing protocols.

These measures, which includes 1 week of necessary hotel quarantine, and stool testing of infants for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives reported.

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“Hong Kong, at the time just one of the most sought-soon after postings for executives, has develop into a hardship publishing because of to the deficiency of intercontinental connectivity,” stated Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Marketplace Association, which has been battered by the restrictions.

“The 1st step is to resume quarantine-absolutely free travel to the town,” he included. “We are practically the last position in the entire world that continue to requires travellers to quarantine upon arrival and this will have to change as soon as attainable. The upcoming phase is a important PR training to get individuals to occur.”

Hong Kong’s after-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with a lot of well known bars vacant on what would typically be packed weekends. The city saw a web outflow of additional than 134,000 individuals in the to start with half of this yr, as opposed with just 1,813 in the exact same time period of 2021.

Knowledge reveals citizens leaving the town for good withdrew a total of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the earlier calendar year. For the initial quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – govt-mandated financial savings, which departing residents can money out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a calendar year previously, the newest info reveals.

Hong Kong has tried to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” method. But in contrast to in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, dwelling to additional than 7 million people, stays highly reliant on global travel and company.

Talent, firms and conventions have left in droves for spots these types of as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with much more than three several years of turbulence, starting off with anti-government protests in 2019.

In a indicator of the city’s escalating remoteness from the relaxation of the location, Citigroup main government Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have equally visited Singapore in the previous two months, outings that would ordinarily include things like Hong Kong, to check out essential banking clientele and senior staff.

‘HALT TO HONG KONG’

Lee is faced with taking care of the needs of the worldwide local community and the regional local community, whose priority is to open up with mainland China, explained govt adviser Bernard Chan, a convener for the city’s Government Council and a deputy to China’s Countrywide People’s Congress.

The governing administration “cannot just forego China for the worldwide current market, I believe if we ship that message the community local community will be upset. Running each is essentially really tough for the future administration.”

Whilst several Asia Pacific-headquartered companies have left, individuals whose business mostly relates to China would nevertheless desire Hong Kong, Chan said. Even so, the city demands to enhance its liveability to entice again expertise.

“It’s not just about executing company, its exactly where you set your family members, instruction, school,” he said. “If we continue to increase on that then we can be competitive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will just take time for the reason that this time all around we have set a halt to Hong Kong.”

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

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of regulation and transparent regulatory procedure is vital for drawing back again expertise, explained Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Option Expense Administration Association.

“The new administration will have to emphasis on what are the crucial aspects that drive Hong Kong’s aggressive pros in opposition to the soaring tide of opposition at a time when men and women are leaving,” Lee reported.

A timetable for opening to the rest of the environment and a new marketing and advertising staff to revitalise Hong Kong’s impression are essential, explained Stewart Aldcroft, a funds management advisor who has been in Hong Kong for 37 a long time.

Lee should start by stanching the outflow of expertise, said Sally Wong, main government of at the Hong Kong Expenditure Cash Association.

“The extended we delay opening up, the additional we are turning away talent,” Wong stated. “Correctly, we are chipping away our competitiveness.”

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

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