I am honoured to have been re-elected to serve the Chamber as Chairman for a second term, and am very grateful to members for their continued support. My first year at the helm coincided with an unusually tough period for the business community, and here at the Chamber we have been working constantly to support you through this extremely challenging times.
I sincerely hope that the coming 12 months will be a much better and more prosperous one for all of our members. There are plenty of indications that such optimism is justified. Here in Hong Kong, we have recently seen the gradual reopening of businesses that had been shuttered, and further easing of social-distancing rules.
We can see how this is having a positive impact, as Hong Kong’s GDP increased by 7.9% year-on-year in the first quarter. Private consumption also rose 1.6% in the same period, a welcome return to growth after six straight quarters of contraction.
Overseas economies like the United States and the United Kingdom are also reopening businesses, thanks to their high vaccination rates. Meanwhile, the Mainland continues to lead the path to recovery, with an 18% year-on-year GDP growth in the first quarter of 2021.
For Hong Kong businesses, the Greater Bay Area in particular is brimming with potential, and we know many of our members are keen to tap into this vast and dynamic market. But we cannot truly take advantage of the opportunities – in the GBA and beyond – until the borders reopen and travel can resume. For that to happen, we need to boost Hong Kong’s vaccination rate.
While tourism, retail and restaurants have obviously been hard hit by the travel restrictions, businesses of all stripes are suffering. For Hong Kong to continue its role as a global commercial hub, businesspeople need to be able to travel in and out of the city without a long quarantine period.
We understand that opening the gates before Hong Kong citizens are adequately protected against the deadly coronavirus could be devastating. Vaccination, therefore, is a crucial step in the process. Everything is in place for Hong Kong to reach herd immunity: we have plenty of vaccines, world-class healthcare professionals, and a convenient and efficient vaccination process.
You may have seen our video featuring HKGCC members explaining why they have had their shots. I’d like to thank all members who have taken the time to share their videos and to act as ambassadors in the vaccination drive. It’s fantastic to see the business community working together to deliver this hugely important message, and to play our part in helping Hong Kong get back to business.
If you would like to share your message about why you took your vaccination, please send your short video to us and we will share it with the community.