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


H2o limitations are set up exterior the Hong Kong Conference and Exhibition Centre, in advance 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

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HONG KONG, June 30 (Reuters) – Organization executives in Hong Kong have a wish listing for its new chief: scrap COVID-19 quarantine principles, and advertise the rule of law and transparent regulations to revive international investor self esteem – right before the territory becomes a hardship posting.

Previous protection main John Lee, who turns into main executive of the previous British colony on Friday, desires to reboot the as soon as-teeming global economic hub, 8 company leaders claimed, due to the fact its border has effectively been sealed due to the fact 2020 and intercontinental arrivals topic to stringent quarantine and testing protocols.

These actions, like a person 7 days of required lodge quarantine, and stool screening of toddlers for coronavirus have hammered Hong Kong’s competitiveness, the executives stated.

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“Hong Kong, after one of the most sought-just after postings for executives, has turn out to be a hardship submitting due to the absence of intercontinental connectivity,” mentioned Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Conference Sector Association, which has been battered by the constraints.

“The to start with step is to resume quarantine-absolutely free travel to the city,” he included. “We are pretty much the last place in the world that however involves travellers to quarantine upon arrival and this ought to alter as quickly as achievable. The next stage is a key PR work out to get persons to appear.”

Hong Kong’s the moment-buzzing nightlife scene has sputtered, with several popular bars empty on what would generally be packed weekends. The town noticed a internet outflow of much more than 134,000 individuals in the to start with 50 percent of this yr, as opposed with just 1,813 in the exact same period of 2021.

Facts displays residents leaving the metropolis for very good withdrew a overall of HK$9.014 billion in 2021, up 52% from the earlier calendar year. For the initial quarter, withdrawals from MPF accounts – government-mandated savings, which departing citizens can cash out on – amounted to HK$2.014 billion, up from HK$1.931 billion a calendar year before, the latest info shows.

Hong Kong has attempted to emulate China’s “dynamic zero COVID” approach. But contrary to in the mainland, Hong Kong’s territory, house to more than 7 million people, stays hugely reliant on international travel and organization.

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

In a signal of the city’s developing remoteness from the rest of the region, Citigroup chief executive Jane Fraser and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have both equally frequented Singapore in the past two months, excursions that would ordinarily involve Hong Kong, to stop by essential banking consumers and senior staff members.


Lee is confronted with handling the needs of the worldwide group and the area community, whose precedence is to open up up with mainland China, claimed federal government adviser Bernard Chan, a convener for the city’s Govt Council and a deputy to China’s Nationwide People’s Congress.

The authorities “cannot just forego China for the worldwide industry, I imagine if we mail that concept the local group will be upset. Running both of those is essentially pretty hard for the upcoming administration.”

Even though numerous Asia Pacific-headquartered corporations have remaining, those whose company largely relates to China would continue to favor Hong Kong, Chan mentioned. Having said that, the metropolis wants to make improvements to its liveability to lure again expertise.

“It’s not just about performing business, its exactly where you put your spouse and children, instruction, faculty,” he said. “If we continue to strengthen on that then we can be competitive to Singapore, Dubai, but it will take time because 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 consider it will continue being the springboard for accessing mainland China. study a lot more

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s rule of regulation and transparent regulatory system is essential for drawing back again expertise, reported Kher Sheng Lee, the Asia Pacific co-head of the Option Investment Management Association.

“The new administration must focus on what are the critical aspects that travel Hong Kong’s competitive positive aspects towards the climbing tide of opposition at a time when folks are leaving,” Lee stated.

A timetable for opening to the relaxation of the planet and a new marketing and advertising staff to revitalise Hong Kong’s graphic are critical, explained Stewart Aldcroft, a funds administration consultant who has been in Hong Kong for 37 yrs.

Lee have to start off by stanching the outflow of talent, mentioned Sally Wong, main govt of at the Hong Kong Investment Resources Association.

“The for a longer time we delay opening up, the much more we are turning absent expertise,” Wong said. “Efficiently, we are chipping absent our competitiveness.”

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

Our Expectations: The Thomson Reuters Have faith in Ideas.


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