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

Drinking water limitations are established up exterior 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 Image

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HONG KONG, June 30 (Reuters) – Business executives in Hong Kong have a want checklist for its new chief: scrap COVID-19 quarantine guidelines, and boost the rule of law and transparent restrictions to revive international trader self esteem – right before the territory gets to be a hardship submitting.

Previous safety main John Lee, who results in being chief govt of the previous British colony on Friday, desires to reboot the the moment-teeming global economic hub, eight company leaders reported, due to the fact its border has properly been sealed considering that 2020 and international arrivals issue to stringent quarantine and screening protocols.

These measures, which include one 7 days of mandatory hotel quarantine, and stool screening of toddlers for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives explained.

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“Hong Kong, once 1 of the most sought-just after postings for executives, has develop into a hardship publishing because of to the lack of global connectivity,” reported Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Marketplace Association, which has been battered by the restrictions.

“The initially action is to resume quarantine-absolutely free travel to the metropolis,” he additional. “We are almost the previous spot in the planet that still necessitates travellers to quarantine upon arrival and this should change as quickly as feasible. The up coming action is a key PR workout to get folks to appear.”

Hong Kong’s once-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with several well-liked bars vacant on what would commonly be packed weekends. The metropolis saw a web outflow of additional than 134,000 men and women in the to start with 50 percent of this 12 months, in comparison with just 1,813 in the exact period of 2021.

Knowledge shows citizens leaving the metropolis for superior withdrew a total of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the former yr. For the very first quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – federal government-mandated financial savings, which departing people can dollars out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a 12 months before, the most current information demonstrates.

Hong Kong has attempted to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” solution. But contrary to in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, dwelling to much more than 7 million people, continues to be remarkably reliant on international travel and company.

Expertise, businesses and conventions have remaining in droves for areas this sort of as Singapore and Dubai, fed up with additional than a few a long time of turbulence, starting up with anti-government protests in 2019.

In a signal of the city’s increasing remoteness from the relaxation of the region, Citigroup chief govt Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have both of those visited Singapore in the earlier two months, excursions that would generally involve Hong Kong, to visit important banking customers and senior employees.


Lee is confronted with running the wants of the intercontinental group and the nearby community, whose priority is to open up 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 intercontinental sector, I think if we send that concept the neighborhood group will be upset. Handling both of those is really really complicated for the future administration.”

Whilst numerous Asia Pacific-headquartered organizations have left, those whose business enterprise mainly relates to China would continue to choose Hong Kong, Chan claimed. Nonetheless, the town requirements to boost its liveability to lure again talent.

“It’s not just about accomplishing business, its in which you place your family, training, college,” he claimed. “If we go on to strengthen on that then we can be competitive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will just take time because this time all over we have place a halt to Hong Kong.”

Some executives are nonetheless optimistic on the outlook for Hong Kong as a finance hub, and they believe it will continue to be the springboard for accessing mainland China. examine extra

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of law and transparent regulatory process is crucial for drawing back talent, said Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Choice Expense Management Affiliation.

“The new administration will have to concentrate on what are the essential variables that generate Hong Kong’s aggressive benefits against the mounting tide of level of competition at a time when people are leaving,” Lee stated.

A timetable for opening to the relaxation of the globe and a new marketing workforce to revitalise Hong Kong’s graphic are important, claimed Stewart Aldcroft, a funds management consultant who has been in Hong Kong for 37 years.

Lee have to begin by stanching the outflow of expertise, reported Sally Wong, main government of at the Hong Kong Investment Money Association.

“The for a longer time we hold off opening up, the more we are turning away talent,” Wong said. “Effectively, we are chipping away our competitiveness.”

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Supplemental reporting by Clare Jim and Kane Wu Modifying by Gerry Doyle

Our Expectations: The Thomson Reuters Trust Rules.