April 7 - 13, 2020
Relief package unveiled
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced (Apr 8) US$17.6 billion (HK$137.5 billion) of supportive measures to help businesses stay afloat, keep workers in employment, relieve financial burdens of individuals, and businesses and revive the economy once the epidemic has been contained. The measures include a US$10.2 billion Employment Support Scheme for eligible employers to provide wage subsidies, and US$2.69 billion fund to support specific sectors. The Government will also enhance the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme, and allow deferrals of payments of salaries tax, personal assessment and profits tax. Together with the US$3.84 billion under the first round of the Anti-epidemic Fund and the US$15.38 billion in Budget measures, the total fiscal implication is US$36.86 billion, representing 10% of GDP. “With Hong Kong’s fundamental strengths and our people’s resilience, we are confident that our city can ride out this storm and Hong Kong can be relaunched,” Mrs Lam said.
Support for enterprises strengthened
The Hong Kong SAR Government is further strengthening support for enterprises facing operational difficulties by rolling out enhancement measures within this month to the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales, and the SME Export Marketing Fund. Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau said the COVID-19 outbreak, together with the US-China trade conflict since 2018 and the social incidents in the latter half of 2019, poses unprecedented challenges to the business environment. “We consider it necessary to introduce further support measures to tide enterprises over this difficult time and get well prepared for long-term economic development,” he said.

New enhanced measures for exporters
The Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation is implementing a new round of enhanced measures to support Hong Kong exporters , in particular SMEs, in view of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has disrupted the supply chain and business activities, putting high pressure on the already difficult operating environment. These new measures, which will benefit about 2,600 policy holders, will help to reduce risks and alleviate financial burden. It will be effective for one year until 31 March 2021.

Efforts continue to contain virus and support businesses
Director of HKETONY Joanne Chu highlighted the measures Hong Kong has implemented in flattening the curve during the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year along with the additional actions taken to contain the viral outbreak as the city sees a second wave of the outbreak. These include the implementation of social distancing measures along with the universal practice of personal hygiene and wearing masks. Speaking at the Apr 8 webinar organized by the Hong Kong Association of New York (HKANY), Ms Chu also spoke about the economic measures the Hong Kong SAR Government has rolled out to help residents and businesses, including the US$17.6 billion package to help businesses stay afloat and keep workers employed.

Director, New York at Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) Anna Fan said the HKTDC continues to support businesses and trade during this difficult time. She highlighted the various research materials and resources that are available, including its Marketplace App and online resource . Bloomberg columnist Daniel Moss gave an overview of the impact of the outbreak on the region’s economy, with breakdowns on the individual economies. President of HKANY Donald Moore moderated the webinar session.
Enhanced health measures for inbound travellers
Beginning April 13, all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport from the US and Europe must proceed to the Department of Health’s Temporary Specimen Collection Centre at the AsiaWorld-Expo to collect their deep throat saliva samples and wait for their test results there. The same arrangements have previously been applied to travellers from the UK. All asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at the airport are required to undergo COVID-19 tests starting April 8. If a sample tests positive, arrangement will be made for the person to be admitted to hospital for treatment while the close contacts who travelled with them will be sent to designated quarantine centers.

Social distancing measures extended
To curb local transmission of COVID-19, the Hong Kong SAR Government will extend measures regulating catering business premises as well as scheduled premises, and prohibiting group gatherings from April 10 through April 23. The new measures include requirements imposed on all catering businesses such as restricting the number of customers, closures of beauty parlours and massage establishments in addition to entertaining and amusement premises. Requirements imposed on all clubhouses and prohibition of group gatherings of more than four people in public spaces will also remain in force until April 23.
Hong Kong residents return from Morocco
A total of 27 Hong Kong residents who left Morocco on a chartered flight arranged by the Chinese Embassy in the Kingdom of Morocco arrived in Guangzhou on April 10. Among them, 26 people subsequently took the coaches arranged by the Hong Kong SAR Government to return to Hong Kong through the Shenzhen Bay Port. One Hong Kong resident chose to stay in Guangzhou for a 14-day isolation period for medical surveillance in accordance with the relevant requirements. The cost of the flight was borne by the passengers.
Deficit could exceed forecast
Taking into account that tax and land sale revenue will fall during a recession, the Hong Kong SAR Government believes it is possible this year's deficit  could exceed US$35.8 billion, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan, who noted that the Government’s new US$17.6 billion relief package together with his forecast in the Budget would push the deficit higher.
HKMA to increase Hong Kong Dollar liquidity
To increase the overall Hong Kong dollar liquidity in the interbank market, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced plans to reduce the issue size of 91-day Exchange Fund Bills by USD$2.56 billion in total, across four regular tenders in April and May. Notwithstanding the plan, the HKMA will monitor market situations and the effect of each reduction, and reserves the flexibility of not executing all the four reductions as needed.

Suspension of Speedpost to the US
Starting from April 14, Hongkong Post will suspend Speedpost services to the US due to substantial reduction in flight frequencies by airlines and thus inability to provide air traffic capacity to cope with the huge volume of Speedpost items conveyed to the US. In lieu of that, the public may consider using surface mail for posting items to the US. The estimated journey time for surface mail to the US would take about 31 days.
Foreign Currency Reserve
  • Total assets of Hong Kong foreign currency reserve amounted to US$437.5 billion, as of March 31, 2020, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. This represents over six times the currency in circulation or about 45 percent of Hong Kong dollar M3.

Hong Kong and its Basic Law
The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Put into effect on July 1, 1997, it enshrines within a legal document the important concept of “One Country, Two Systems". 

Q: Has the Central People’s Government or any Mainland province interfered in the administering of the HKSAR Government?
A: No. Hong Kong has enjoyed a high degree of autonomy since its return to the Motherland on July 1, 1997. In accordance with the Basic Law, the CPG has scrupulously upheld the principle of “one country, two systems” and the promise of “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong”. No department of CPG and no province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the CPG has interfered in the affairs, which the HKSAR Government administers on its own in accordance with the Basic Law. ( BL Articles 2; 12; 22 )

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