December was a very busy month for your Chamber and Hong Kong. The head line news was that Hong Kong peeled back another layer of Covid restrictions as the Chief Executive announced that starting 14 December, Hong Kong would scrap the amber code and need for scanning QR codes to enter premises.
Then on 28 December, the Government announced it would scrap the requirement of mandatory PCR Covid-19 tests for inbound travellers, together with the vaccination pass requirement, starting 29 December.
This was a positive development, and we expect it will encourage more business travelers and tourists to visit Hong Kong, which will be a boost for the economy and businesses. We hope that the Government will consider removing the requirement of conducting two PCR tests and daily RAT tests for arrivals as the number of infection cases stabili zes.
The news came just a few days after the Chamber organized a Town Hall Forum with the Chief Executive John Lee on 9 December. Over 100 members attended in person and close to 100 others online, such was the importance they placed on hearing the Chief Executive's plans for Hong Kong going forward, in particular, when will Covid related restrictions end?
Members urged the Chief Executive during the forum to further ease restrictions to help their businesses and the economy recover. The CE stressed that the Government was worldng non-stop analyzing the data to see where restrictions could be peeled back and how the Government could boosl Lhe economy.
As part of this, he pointed out the importance of his recent visit to Bangkok for the APEC Summit. There was no doubt among participants at the summit that Asia will be the global engine of economic growth going forward. With Hong Kong being at the heart of the region, it is vital that our efforts to join RECP succeed. Africa, as well as Latin America, are also huge relatively untapped opportunities for Hong Kong to develop, as shown by the success that many Mainland businesses are already reaping after accessing these markets early.
We also have a huge market on our doors tep with the Greater Bay Area. President Xi stressed that Hong Kong has a key role to play in the success of the GBA. Moreover, under the 14th Five-Year Plan, new pillar sectors, especially innovation & technology, will help diversify our economy and create new areas of growth.
Above all, the CE stressed that he wanted people to have confidence in Hong Kong and our future economic outlook. This sentiment was certainly present at the Chamber's Christmas Coclctail on 9 December and also Christmas dinner on 13 December as members were happy to reconnect at these large-scale events. The Chamber is getting back to normal and we are planning to reach out to the world in the new year to send the message that Hong Kong is back. I hope you will join us.