July 14 - 20, 2020
Tax concessions bill passed
Following the passage of the Inland Revenue (Amendment) (Profits Tax Concessions for Insurance-related Businesses) Bill 2019 by the Legislative Council (Jul 15), the profits tax rate for all general reinsurance businesses and selected general insurance businesses of direct insurers, as well as selected insurance brokerage businesses has been reduced by 50%, bringing it to 8.25%. Welcoming the passage of the ordinance, Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Christopher Hui said it would promote the development of Hong Kong’s marine and specialty risk insurance businesses and enhance the development of high value-added maritime services. It would also assist the insurance industry in seizing new opportunities, including those arising from the Belt & Road Initiative.
Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme postponed
In light of the postponement of various convention and exhibition (C&E) activities originally scheduled for mid- and late July and August in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government announced (Jul 14) that the launch of the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme under the Anti-epidemic Fund will be postponed. The Government will closely monitor the latest situation and announce the new launch date in due course, with a view to starting the 12-month scheme at an opportune time for holding major C&E events so as to benefit more enterprises and help them explore markets and opportunities. 
Young talents welcomed in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation’s (HKSTP) has launched a Technology Leaders of Tomorrow Programme to attract young innovation and technology (I&T) talents to work at top HKSTP technology companies and nurture them into future technology leaders. The program is open to graduates with a STEM degree for no more than two years. The talents will receive monthly salary of US$3,205 (Bachelor’s), US$3,846 (Master’s) or US$5,769 (PhD). Applications details can be found here . The closing date to apply for the program is Jul 29.
Signing Hong Kong Autonomy Act into law hurt Hong Kong-US common interests
In a statement (Jul 15), the HKSAR Government expressed its strong opposition to the US signing into law the “Hong Kong Autonomy Act” (the Act) passed by the US Congress. A government spokesman said the US move is in violation of international law, and will definitely harm the relations and common interests between Hong Kong and the US, causing tremendous damage to the companies and people of the US. The spokesman added that the special status as a separate customs territory enjoyed by the HKSAR are recognized by multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), but not granted or revocable by an individual country. “The HKSAR Government will carefully consider if US's measures contravene WTO rules, and does not rule out the possibility of taking action under WTO rules to protect Hong Kong’s interests.”
Social distancing measures tightened and extended
Hong Kong is extending its existing social distancing measures through Jul 28, after stepping up (Jul 19) its fight against COVID-19 by introducing a series of measures including making masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces and ordering civil servants to work from home, as the city saw a rise in the number of local cases. The city had earlier mandated masks on public transport, banned dine-in service in restaurants from 6pm until 5am, with only four people allowed per table in restaurants and closed premises such as bars, karaoke lounges, gyms and theme parks. The number of persons allowed in any public gathering in public places was also reduced from 50 to 4. Speaking at a press conference (Jul 13), Chief Executive Carrie Lam also said that the government will continue to help the businesses under the Employment Support Scheme and the Anti-epidemic Fund.
New requirements for visitors from high-risk areas
Effective Jul 25, travelers who visited specific high-risk places within 14 days before arriving in Hong Kong are required to provide documents showing they tested negative for COVID-19 and their room reservation in a hotel in Hong Kong. The new conditions currently affects travelers who have stayed in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa. The operator of the specified aircraft should submit to the Department of Health of the HKSAR Government, before the aircraft arrives in Hong Kong, a document confirming that each relevant traveler has produced such documents.
Smart ID replacement for those born in 1962 or 1963
Hong Kong residents born in 1962 or 1963 should apply for a new smart identity card at a Smart Identity Card Replacement Centre from Jul 28 to Sep 22. Bookings can be made online , on the department’s mobile application or by calling the 24-hour hotline at (852) 2121-1234. Residents who are absent from Hong Kong during their call-up period can apply within 30 days of their return to the city.
  • The volume of Hong Kong’s total exports of goods and imports of goods decreased by 6.7% and 11.0%, respectively, year-on-year. Prices of total exports of goods and imports of goods both fell 0.8% and 0.9%. Double-digit decline was recorded for the total export volume to the US (-11.8%) during the same comparison period. The total export prices to the USA also fell (-2.3%).
  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate grew to 6.2% in Apr – Jun, from 5.9% in the previous three-month period. The underemployment rate also rose to 3.7% from 3.5% in the same comparison periods.
Hong Kong and its Basic Law
The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the HKSAR. Put into effect on July 1, 1997, it enshrines within a legal document the important concept of “One Country, Two Systems”. 

Q: Is Chinese the only official language allowed under the Basic Law?
A: No, in addition to Chinese, English is also an official language used by the executive authorities, the legislature and the judiciary of the HKSAR. ( BL Article 9 )

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