It is a great honour to have been elected HKGCC Chairman for 2022-23, following the Chamber’s Annual General Meeting on 13 May. I would first like to express my sincere thanks to my predecessor Peter Wong for leading the Chamber through the difficulties of the past two years.
I have been an active member of the Chamber for more than 20 years, and stepping up to serve as Chairman is a huge responsibility as well as a great privilege. There is no doubt that there will be challenges ahead: the whole business community has endured an extraordinarily tough period due to Covid-19 and the related social restrictions.
Although many businesses within the city are gradually resuming normal operations, Hong Kong continues to have among the strictest travel restrictions in the world. So one of my key priorities will be to urge the Government to reopen Hong Kong’s borders. Removing our current quarantine requirements and the flight-ban mechanism will enable the return of business travellers and visitors. This move is essential if we are to revitalize our economy and strengthen our position as a global financial, commercial and transportation hub. And the longer we delay, the harder it will be to convince businesses, airlines and visitors to return as Hong Kong will be further and further off their radar.
As we look towards a post-pandemic world, the rapid growth of the Greater Bay Area and global focus on sustainability will provide huge opportunities for Hong Kong. As a thriving financial centre, we can build on our expertise to strengthen our role as an offshore RMB centre, and encourage the adoption of ESG standards and more green finance projects.
After a gruelling few years, there is also a need to promote Hong Kong to the rest of the world as a fantastic destination for working, investing and living. Once quarantine-free travel resumes, Hong Kong should consider organizing a series of high-level and large-scale events, including exhibitions and meetings as well as cultural and sports events. These will help revive our economy while also spreading the word about the city’s unique advantages.
Such promotions will also help to attract and retain the top-level workers that we need to strengthen our highly qualified and professional talent pool. In the longer term, we must also ensure that the city offers a comfortable lifestyle for all who live here, which means better housing, a good choice of career options for young people, and a greener, healthier environment.
For now, with the fifth wave subsiding, and very few serious cases emerging, we hope that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. We know that the pandemic is not over yet, but as the world is getting back to normal, we face a very real risk of being left behind and forgotten.
I know that the business community is primed for action, and I am looking forward to working with members in the year ahead to help Hong Kong get back to business.