Talking Points
Rising to the Challenge with Flexibility

For more than a year, the world has been plagued by the trade friction between the United States and Mainland China. So it is good news that the two sides finally reached a substantial phase-one deal last month. However, the uncertainty is far from over. 

Given the ever-changing global political and economic landscape, the Hong Kong Government should actively expand its domestic and emerging markets to reduce investment risks and to help tide SMEs over the current internal troubles and external threats.

As a highly externally oriented economy, Hong Kong cannot be immune from the financial and economic uncertainties around the world. Moreover, considering that the current Sino-U.S. first-phase trade agreement avoids core issues such as the Mainland’s industrial policies and government subsidies to state-owned enterprises, uncertainties remain. With the situation remaining fluid, we must stay vigilant and focused on economic development.

To provide young people with a ladder for upward mobility, the Government needs to protect the economic foundation laid down by the previous generations and get on board the express train of national development. 

The opportunities arising from the Belt and Road and Greater Bay Area initiatives should also be seized, with a view to attracting multinational and Mainland enterprises to set up in Hong Kong. 

Meanwhile, the Administration should seek to enable Hong Kong businesses to set up in economic and trade cooperation zones outside China, so they can restructure their production lines and open up new production bases in the wider region.

Back at home, the number of inbound Mainland tourists fell by half to only 670,000 during the last National Day Golden Week, foreshadowing a cold winter ahead for the tourism and retail industries. As the upcoming Christmas and Lunar New Year holidays are not expected to be festive occasions for local businesses, the Government should judge the hour and take action. In addition to the various support measures for SMEs it has launched in recent months, greater efforts should be made where needed to help the business sector overcome the current difficulties.

With the endless political disputes and unprecedented challenges in the business environment, there is a danger that if capital and talent leave the city they may not return. It is imperative for the Government to take stock of the situation and seize the opportunities to further integrate into the national development plans by playing an even more active role as a participant. This will help lay the groundwork for the well-being of the next generation of Hong Kong people, and address the issues that hinder the long-term development of the city.

 

Jeffrey Lam
jeffrey@jeffreylam.h

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