No.4  April, 2020  
Latest from Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR Government announces new pandemic measures
Through concerted efforts in tackling COVID-19, Hong Kong has managed to keep the number of confirmed cases at a relatively low level in this pandemic, and prevent large scale community outbreak.

Non Hong Kong-residents are still banned from entering Hong Kong by air and starting from 22 April, all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport will be mandated to wait for test results at a designated location after collecting their deep throat saliva samples for conducting testing for COVID-19 at the Department of Health’s Temporary Specimen Collection Centre at AsiaWorld-Expo. Department of Health will arrange those asymptomatic inbound travellers who need to wait for test results overnight to be temporarily accommodated in the Holding Centre for Test Result set up in a hotel. Read more here. To safeguard against any sudden turn in the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong that may foil achievements thus far, measures on social distancing in Hong Kong will be extended until 7 May. Read more about the measures and the press release.

As the epidemic situation has stabilised since earlier this month with only single digit cases reported over the past two weeks, the Government will resume public services under a phased approach. Read more here.

Hong Kong’s economy is facing unprecedented challenges, the Chief Executive of the HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, announced on 8 April a series of measures involving HK$137.5 billion (about $AUD28.6 billion) to help businesses stay afloat, keep workers in employment, relieve financial burdens of individuals and businesses and assist the economy to recover once the epidemic is contained. This takes to HK$287.5 billion (about AUD$59.9 billion) - about 10% of Gross Domestic Product - the total pledged by the Hong Kong SAR Government to help offset the economic fallout from COVID-19 including the HK$120 billion (about AUD$25 billion) relief package in the 2020-21 Budget and the HK$30 billion (about AUD$6.25 billion) Anti-epidemic Fund. Read more about the measures from an e-booklet, press release, transcript, and supplementary information.
  Online solutions to resolve pandemic-related disputes
In anticipation of an increase in disputes related to COVID-19, Hong Kong has introduced the “COVID-19 Online Dispute Resolution Scheme” – a fast, cost-effective way to resolve such disputes, especially for cases involving micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that may be adversely affected or hard hit by the pandemic. The scheme will deploy the Electronic Business Related Arbitration & Mediation (eBRAM) system to provide online dispute resolution services to the general public and businesses, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, involved in low-value disputes, with the claim amount for each case capped at HK$500,000 (about AUD$104,200). One of the parties (claimant or respondent) must be a Hong Kong resident or company.

Read more here.
  Research study on Hong Kong’s effective pandemic control
A study by researchers at the University of Hong Kong published in The Lancet looked at how Hong Kong had managed to prevent a major COVID-19 outbreak. Professor Benjamin Cowling who led the research said by quickly implementing public health measures, Hong Kong had demonstrated that COVID-19 transmission could be effectively contained without resorting to a complete lockdown. “If these measures and population responses can be sustained, while avoiding fatigue among the general population, they could substantially lessen the impact of a local COVID-19 epidemic,” he said.

Read more here.
  Hong Kong’s institutional strength and core competitiveness unscathed
The Hong Kong SAR Government was disappointed by Fitch’s decision to downgrade Hong Kong’s credit rating to “AA-” from “AA”. A Government spokesman said on 20 April that the decision reflected a disproportionate emphasis on prevailing socio-political issues without giving due recognition to the strong fundamentals underpinning the local economy and financial market. The spokesman pointed out that Hong Kong’s financial markets and banking system have been functioning normally. “Despite the unprecedented challenges, Hong Kong’s institutional strengths and core competitiveness are unscathed. They include free flows of capital, goods and information and talent; a simple and low tax regime; a robust supervisory regime; the rule of law and an independent judiciary and quality professional services,” the spokesman added.

Read more here.
  Hong Kong ranks 6th in Global Financial Centres Index
Hong Kong was ranked 6th in the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) 27 Report published by the Z/Yen from the United Kingdom and the China Development Institute from Shenzhen. In GFCI 27, 108 financial centres were assessed. The overall rating of Hong Kong was 737. A Government spokesman said on 27 March that Hong Kong remained one of the top 10 leading international financial centres in the world. Among the five areas of competitiveness (namely Business Environment, Human Capital, Infrastructure, Financial Sector Development, and Reputational and General) as mentioned in the Report, Hong Kong ranked above some of these centres with a higher overall ranking in four or more areas. Notably, Hong Kong was ranked number three in the areas of Business Environment and Human Capital.

Read more here.
Virtual expo connects global buyers
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council launched a month-long Spring Virtual Expo on 1 April to help Hong Kong companies connect with global buyers amid the pandemic. The digital exhibition also gave Hong Kong businesses a new channel to capture orders during the traditional peak sourcing season. To further enhance the effectiveness of business matching, the Spring Virtual Expo focused on four themes: technology – lighting and electronics; gifts and houseware; lifestyle; and fashion and beauty. The 33 groups of products covered under the four themes included lighting, construction and hardware, electronics and computer accessories; home products, gifts, toys, baby products and stationery; jewellery, watches and glasses; and fashion accessories, clothing, and health and beauty products.

Read more here.
Upcoming event
  HKETO’s Webinar #1 “Getting Ready for 2020 2.0”
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Sydney (HKETO Sydney) will hold its first webinar of “Hong Kong House Webinar Series” at noon AEST (Melbourne/Sydney) on 6 May to bring the latest news and development of Hong Kong to participants to further Australia/Hong Kong and New Zealand/Hong Kong relations. In this Webinar #1 “Getting Ready for 2020 2.0”, Director of HKETO Sydney, Mr Raymond Fan, will be joined by Head of Invest Hong Kong for Australia and New Zealand, Dr Luca de Leonardis, Director, Australia and New Zealand, of Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Ms Bonnie Shek, and Regional Director, Australia and New Zealand, of Hong Kong Tourism Board, Mr Andrew Clark, to give participants the latest information into how Hong Kong is responding to the COVID-19 crisis. In focus, the panel will share their insights on the challenges and the latest support measures amid COVID-19 crisis, and discuss what these could mean for Australian and New Zealand businesses.
  Together, we fight the virus!
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