I am honoured to have been elected Chairman of the Chamber for 2020-21 following HKGCC’s Annual General Meeting on 15 May. First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks to my predecessor Aron Harilela, who has helped lay a strong and solid foundation at the Chamber.
Representing the Hong Kong business community is a tremendous privilege, and also a major responsibility, especially at this extraordinarily difficult time for the city. Businesses across all sectors are being battered by the Covid-19 outbreak, when many of them were already struggling as a result of the social unrest and U.S.-China trade tensions.
The Chamber’s survey of members in May brought into sharp focus just how badly the pandemic is affecting the Hong Kong business community. There was no surprise in the findings that the overwhelming majority of respondents said that their businesses had been affected by the outbreak. But of greater concern, however, is how severe the impact has been.
Almost one third of businesses say they can survive for no more than six months without further help. Many fear that they may not even last that long, with around one in eight members reporting that their turnover had dropped by 90% or more.
While our survey makes for gloomy reading, it also allows us to pinpoint where the most severe problems lie. This will enable us to focus our work and energy on lobbying efforts, services and programmes that will help members survive the current crisis and position themselves for the recovery.
In these particularly difficult times, the Chamber has a crucial role to play in ensuring your voice is heard. To do that, we need to reflect your experiences and views accurately and quickly. The time you take to fill in Chamber surveys is incredibly helpful in making sure that we have the best information available, which gives our views enhanced credibility and weight.
For example, our survey on the National Security Law enabled us to quickly understand the feelings of the business community. While respondents were concerned about short-term uncertainty, the majority felt it would have no negative impact in the longer term.
Such surveys also help the Government understand the immediate needs of businesses and assists them in making the policy decisions that will help us navigate back to recovery.
And here the Chamber also has a role to play in identifying new opportunities in Hong Kong, regionally and internationally. We are an international city, and we can leverage our overseas networks to forge new relationships that will open new doors for our businesses and our highly qualified workforce.
The road ahead will be challenging, but the best way we can move forward is by supporting one another and sharing our insights. I look forward to working with all of you on how we can best achieve this objective.