Latest from Hong Kong
  IMF commends Hong Kong’s robust institutional frameworks and effective policy responses for boosting economic growth and safeguarding financial stability
The International Monetary Fund Staff Mission (Mission) published its assessment in the Concluding Statement on 20 January following the completion of the 2022 Article IV Consultation with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).  The Mission commended Hong Kong’s strong economic recovery and the Government’s efforts to safeguard financial stability.  The Mission reaffirmed Hong Kong’s position as a major international financial centre and recognised that Hong Kong’s financial sector, underpinned by robust regulatory and supervisory frameworks, has continued to expand robustly, even during the pandemic.  The well-functioning Linked Exchange Rate System remains key to safeguarding economic and financial stability.  Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s macroprudential policies and strong institutional frameworks have provided it with important buffers to cope with economic shocks.  The Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, and the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Mr Eddie Yue, welcomed the Mission’s recognition and positive assessment.  The Mission noted that Hong Kong’s economy has recovered strongly, supported by swift and bold policy responses and added that there is upside potential, such as a faster-than-expected global recovery and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, for Hong Kong’s economic growth.

More details here.
Asian Financial Forum explores into next normal and sustainable future amid gradual recovery of global economy
The 15th Asian Financial Forum was conducted in virtual format on 10 and 11 January, which provided a premier platform for thousands of leaders in government, finance and business from over 80 countries and regions to exchange insights and explore business and investment opportunities.  Under the theme “Navigating the Next Normal towards a Sustainable Future”, the forum offered a platform to discuss the key factors shaping the future global economic landscape as the world adapts to the new normal.  It was also one of the events to kick-start celebrations for the 25th Anniversary of the Establishment of the HKSAR.  Speaking at the opening session, the Chief Executive of HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, said that with boundless possibilities beyond the pandemic, Hong Kong would aim to consolidate existing advantages and seek out fresh opportunities.  She highlighted Hong Kong’s fundraising, asset and wealth management, insurance and financial technology businesses, in which the city would continue to prosper.  She also stressed that the Government, in collaboration with the financial regulators and the industry, was stepping up the efforts to promote green and sustainable finance in Hong Kong, with a view to contributing to achieving the carbon neutrality goals in Hong Kong and in the Mainland.  The forum this year continued to feature the Fintech Showcase, FintechHK Start-up Salon and InnoVenture Salon, as well as the Global Investment Zone, to enable more than 130 local and overseas international financial institutions, technology enterprises, start-ups and investment agencies to present their latest financial innovations, next-generation businesses and investment opportunities across regions and sectors.

More details here.

See the Chief Executive’s speech here.
APEC holds Workshop cum Training on Retro-commissioning
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Workshop cum Training on Retro-commissioning (RCx) was held in Hong Kong via video conference from 20 to 21 January.  Delivering the opening remarks, the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, said that Hong Kong would strive to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050, adding that Hong Kong was honoured to host the online APEC workshop cum training to foster the wider adoption of RCx, which can help drive member economies towards APEC’s energy intensity reduction goal.  More than 100 experts and delegates from 11 APEC member economies attended the workshop cum training to exchange knowledge on RCx.  This initiative serves as a timely check on the energy performance of an existing building to identify energy saving potential for operational improvements.  Through tuning and adjusting building services systems and equipment, optimal operation efficiency can be achieved, thus saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.  The event was part of the APEC-funded project proposed by Hong Kong.  The project aims to promote the importance of RCx by improving energy efficiency, which can help accelerate APEC’s goal to reduce energy intensity by at least 45% by 2035, with 2005 as the baseline year.

More details here.
Asia Private Equity Forum 2022
The Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, gave a video speech at the Asia Private Equity Forum 2022 on 12 January.  The theme of the forum this year was “Regulatory Risk and the Continuing Impact of the Virus”.  Mr Chan said that he is confident that financial services and Hong Kong’s local economy would continue to flourish.  The National 14th Five-Year Plan, the implementation of the National Security Law as well as the enhancements to the electoral system not only cemented the foundation of “One country, Two systems” and provided maximum safeguards for Hong Kong to harness the strengths under the arrangement, but also reshaped the landscape of good and effective governance and propelled Hong Kong into a new development phase, where Hong Kong can focus on the future — on building a flourishing economy, and a more cohesive community, for the city.  Mr Chan highlighted that the Government is intent on boosting Hong Kong’s status as an international asset and wealth management centre and is working to enhance Hong Kong’s strengths as Asia’s private equity hub in three discrete ways, namely the modernisation of the fund structure regime, offering attractive tax concessions and the establishment of the fund re-domicile regime.

More details here.
Business expectations for the first quarter of 2022
The Census and Statistics Department released the results of the Quarterly Business Tendency Survey for the first quarter (Q1) of 2022 on 21 January.  According to the survey, for all surveyed sectors taken together, the proportion of respondents expecting their business situation to be better (14%) in Q1 2022 over the preceding quarter is slightly higher than that expecting it to be worse (13%).  A government spokesperson said that business sentiment among large enterprises remained stable as compared to three months ago.  Hiring sentiment also held steady in overall terms, according to the Quarterly Business Tendency Survey for the Q1 2022.  However, the latest survey results have yet to fully reflect the impact of the latest wave of local epidemic.  The spokesman pointed out that while the tightened social distancing measures in response to the local epidemic development will likely weigh on business sentiment of the related sectors in the near term, the latest round of measures under the Anti-epidemic Fund should provide some relief.  It is thus essential for the community to abide by the anti-epidemic measures and strive towards wider coverage of vaccination, so as to put the local epidemic under control as swiftly as possible.

More details here.
Hong Kong and Chile update commitments on trade in services under Free Trade Agreement
Hong Kong and Chile signed an exchange of notes on 18 January to confirm the updated commitments of both sides on trade in services under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Hong Kong and Chile, marking a new milestone in trade and investment co-operation between the two economies.  The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, and the Vice Minister of Trade of Chile, Mr Rodrigo Yáñez, signed the exchange of notes at a virtual signing ceremony.  Mr Yau said that the updated commitments are a testimony of the mutual and ongoing commitment of Hong Kong and Chile to a free and open trade and investment regime, amidst rising protectionism and uncertainties in the global trade environment.  They represent a big boost of confidence to the rules-based trading system.  In addition to improving its existing commitments in a wide variety of service sectors, Chile has made commitments in over 50 new service sectors, encompassing those priority service sectors in which Hong Kong has traditional strengths or has potential for priority development.  For these sectors, Hong Kong’s service providers would be able to enjoy access to the Chilean market and treatment no less favourable than that for Chile’s local service providers.  Hong Kong has signed eight FTAs with 20 economies, namely the Mainland, the Macao Special Administrative Region, the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Australia, Chile, the four member states of the European Free Trade Association, Georgia and New Zealand, all of which have entered into force.

More details here.
Hong Kong fencer on top of the world
Olympic fencing champion Edgar Cheung Ka-long won the individual foil gold medal at the FIE World Cup in France on 16 January, becoming Hong Kong’s first male fencing World Cup champion.  The Chief Executive of HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, congratulated Cheung in her Facebook page and said that the Government would continue to support the professional development of local athletes.  She hoped that the next term of administration would accept the recommendation to restructure the Government and set up the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau to push forward relevant work.
Application of Administrative Service Summer Internship Programme 2022 starts
Hong Kong students studying at tertiary institutions outside of Hong Kong who wish to pursue a career in the Administrative Service of the HKSAR Government are welcome to apply for the Administrative Service Summer Internship Programme 2022.  Selected students will be placed in different government bureaux or departments as interns and gain hands-on experience of working with serving Administrative Officers (AOs).  Students will also have the opportunity to visit various government offices and / or relevant public organisations.  Applications should be submitted by postal mail or email by 25 February (Friday) (Hong Kong time) to the Civil Service Bureau.

See application and selection criteria here.

See more information on AO career here.
  Updates on Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic measures
  • The Government announced that it would maintain most existing social distancing measures until 17 February.
    • Prohibition on group gatherings of more than four persons in public places to continue.
    • Mandatory mask-wearing requirement to continue.
    • Catering business must cease selling or supplying food or drink for consumption on the premises of the business from 6pm to 4.59am of the subsequent day.  The premises may still sell or supply food and/or drink for takeaway services and deliveries.
    • The maximum number of persons per table for catering premises under Types B, C and D Modes of Operation has been reduced to two, four and six respectively.
    • Bars or pubs, amusement game centres, bathhouses, fitness centres, places of amusement, places of public entertainment, party rooms, beauty parlours, clubs or nightclubs, karaoke establishments, mahjong-tin kau premises, massage establishments, sports premises, swimming pools, cruise ships and event premises must be closed.
  • The Government would implement a series of measures to expand the requirements of “vaccine bubble” effective from 24 February.  The scope of which will cover all catering business and scheduled premises.  The “vaccine bubble” will also cover schools and certain government cultural and leisure facilities such as public libraries.
  • From 5 February, the compulsory quarantine period for inbound travellers from overseas places would be adjusted to 14 days in designated quarantine hotels, to be followed by a seven-day self-monitoring period.  Other existing boarding requirements would remain unchanged.
  • The place-specific flight suspension mechanism for Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States of America would be extended to 18 February.  All passenger flights from these eight places would be prohibited from landing in Hong Kong, and at the same time, persons who have stayed in these places for more than two hours within 21 days (within 14 days starting from 5 February) would be restricted from boarding passenger flights for Hong Kong, so as to stop persons from the relevant places from travelling to Hong Kong via transit.  Details on the relevant boarding and compulsory quarantine requirements for respective specified places can be found here.
  • From 16 January to 15 February, passenger transfer/ transit services via the Hong Kong International Airport for any persons who have stayed in Group A specified place(s) in the past 21 days would be suspended.
  • The list of designated quarantine hotels for the seventh cycle of the Designated Quarantine Hotel Scheme, which would run from 1 March to 31 July, has been announced.  A total of 44 hotels would provide about 12 500 rooms in the new cycle.  List can be found here.
  • The latest List of Places of Issuance of Recognised Vaccination Records can be found here.
  • With Xiangzhou District of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province has been removed from the “list of at-risk places temporarily inapplicable under the Return2hk/Come2hk Scheme”, from 31 January onwards, persons who have fulfilled all specified conditions of the Return2hk Scheme or Come2hk Scheme will be exempted from compulsory quarantine upon entry into Hong Kong from the Zhuhai Port through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) under the relevant Schemes. The online booking systems of the two Schemes will be open for quota application for persons entering Hong Kong from the Zhuhai Port through HZMB.
Read more at the Fight Against COVID-19 website.
Upcoming events
  Sydney Lunar Festival Dragon Boat Races 2022 (Australia)
To share the joy of the Lunar New Year with members of the public in Australia, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Sydney (HKETO) will participate in the Sydney Lunar Festival Dragon Boat Races at Darling Harbour on 5 and 6 February.  A “Hong Kong Team” will compete in the races on 6 February.  HKETO will also set up a marquee to promote Hong Kong during the two-day event.  Free souvenirs with Hong Kong’s characteristics and information leaflets about Hong Kong will be distributed to the public.  Come and support the Hong Kong Team at the dragon boat races at Darling Harbour.  Meanwhile, you will also find Hong Kong-themed banners with Lunar New Year greeting messages displayed in some key locations in Sydney during the Lunar New Year period.

Find out more about Sydney Lunar Festival celebrations.
  Hong Kong Bus Day 2022 (Australia)
The Sydney Bus Museum continues its annual Hong Kong Bus Day event in 2022, featuring popular buses now preserved in Australia.  Regular rides featuring two Hong Kong double decker buses (one former CMB bus and one former KMB bus) will operate between Huntleys Point and the Sydney Bus Museum in Sydney on 6 February.  It is a great chance to experience a genuine Hong Kong bus ride.  Free souvenirs with Hong Kong’s characteristics and information leaflets about Hong Kong will also be distributed to the public at the museum during the event.

More details here.
  The 50th Hong Kong Arts Festival (Hong Kong and Online)
To be held from 21 February to 27 March, the 50th Hong Kong Arts Festival continues to present a wide array of music, opera, drama and dance performances of both traditional and contemporary creations via both in-venue and online formats.  This year, the festival also brings along some pioneering projects in arts and technology.  One of the major festival highlights — Laila is premiering internationally in Hong Kong after debuting in Finland.  Interact with Laila, incorporating artificial intelligence, audiences can explore a unique performance with the combination of arts and technology.  Furthermore, the festival continues to deliver an array of PLUS, community outreach and educational events, providing first-rate platforms to deepen and enrich the festival experience.

More details here.
  Hong Kong 2022 International Urban Forestry Conference (Online)
The Hong Kong 2022 International Urban Forestry Conference would put together a comprehensive and exciting programme from 2 to 4 March covering topics of common interest among government officials, professionals, academics and practitioners in arboriculture, urban forestry and related fields around the globe.  The theme of this year’s conference is “Well-being: Our Urban Forest‧Our Community”.  The conference will explore subjects ranging from the urban forestry in infrastructure planning and design, its relationship with the wellness and the health of people, and its sustainable management via a mix of formats including talks, panel discussions to virtual booth exhibitions.

More details here.
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