As we welcome a new year, the business community in Hong Kong will surely be glad to say goodbye to 2019. The shocking scenes on our streets have not only hit the companies that have been directly attacked, but also put the brakes on economic growth and seriously affected our global reputation.
At the same time, trade tensions between the Chinese Mainland and the United States continued to rumble on throughout much of last year, adding to the uncertainty. A partial trade deal reached near the end of the year did help ease the pressure somewhat.
Members have told us that they are grateful for the various measures rolled out by the Government to help tide them over, but that healing the divisions in society and restoring law and order are the most important things to help their business get back on track.
In this regard, we were relieved to see calm return ahead of the District Council elections in November, and for the situation to have remained relatively peaceful in the following weeks. We sincerely hope that 2020 will see a full return to normality.
We are also reassured by the “phase one” deal between the U.S. and Beijing. More harmonious relations between the world’s two biggest economies will be a relief for Hong Kong.
While the protests and trade war grabbed headlines, 2019 saw other, more positive, developments. The release of the Outline Development Plan for the Greater Bay Area in February clearly defined the role of Hong Kong in this important initiative. More detailed policy measures revealed in November aim to improve our traditional strengths in areas such as finance, medicine and professional services, as well as develop new focuses of economic growth such as innovation and technology.
The continuing popularity of our GBA missions reflects the interest in capturing the opportunities emerging in this unique region. In 2019 alone, we visited six out of the nine GBA Mainland cities: Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Foshan, Jiangmen, Zhongshan and Zhaoqing.
Here at the Chamber, we did not escape last year’s unrest, which forced us to cancel a number of events and meetings. But, for the most part, it was business as usual and we continued to offer a wide range of events and services to our members.
We are very grateful to all of our members for their continuing support – of the Chamber, and of each other. As a new decade dawns, the outlook remains uncertain, but working together is the best way we can share expertise, information and advice, and ensure that the Government hears the voice of the business community.