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After a few grim years, Hong Kong is ready to turn the corner
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2022
The removal of travel restrictions, an expanded airport, and most importantly deep trade relations with Thailand and other Asean nations will pave the way for the re-emergence of Hong Kong as one of the great trade, financial, and investment hubs of Asia, a forum heard on Monday.
Speaking to a crowded gathering on “Hong Kong-Thailand: Entering a New Era of Opportunities”, representatives from Hong Kong’s trade and government agencies reaffirmed the future role of China’s special administrative region (SAR) as a gateway to connect markets and investors from the mainland with overseas interests.
The event was organised by Hong Kong Trade Development Council at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok on November 21.
Many months of pro-democracy protests in 2019-20 had rattled Hong Kong’s economy, which took a further hit soon after due to strict Covid-19 control measures following China’s zero-Covid policy.
The Hong Kong government was allowed only recently to relax Covid-19 rules for travellers and tour groups. Since September 26, international arrivals are no longer required to quarantine in hotels.
“Hong Kong would still be an ideal place for trade and investment,” said Algernon Yau, JP, secretary for commerce and economic development, Hong Kong SAR.
In July this year, on the 25th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China in 1997, China’s President Xi Jinping gave a speech that pointed to the favourable conditions and distinctive advantages of Hong Kong’s close connection with global markets.
Dr Peter K N Lam , Chairman Hong Kong Trade Development Council
Meanwhile, investors and economists were sceptical about the Chinese city of Shenzhen — known for its proximity to Hong Kong and serving as a hi-tech hub — superseding Hong Kong as an international trade and finance hub. The rise of Shenzhen was watched even more closely when Hong Kong was forced to deal with a series of protests over Beijing’s strict policies.
However, Hong Kong enjoys clear advantages because of its long-term and close economic ties as well as collaboration with Asean nations, including Thailand, speakers at the forum said.
Supattanapong Punmeechaow, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy of Thailand
“Coming to Hong Kong, there are greater business opportunities. It’s a global hub to capture opportunities in China,” said Jack So Chak-Kwon, chairman of the Airport Authority Hong Kong.
Chartsiri Sophonpanich, president of Bangkok Bank, the first Thai commercial bank to open a branch in Hong Kong, said Hong Kong remains important to trade and investment to link to China, while Thailand serves as a gateway to Asean countries.
Thailand is Hong Kong’s fourth-largest trading partner among Asean members. Bilateral trade in goods grew more than 18% year on year in 2021, reaching US$20.6 billion.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee, who attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok, has called for further strengthening of economic, trade and investment cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between Hong Kong and Thailand.