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November 10 - 16, 2020
Hong Kong - Singapore air travel bubble to start Nov 22
Flights under the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble (ATB) will start on Nov 22. Under the arrangement, travelers between the two places will not be subject to quarantine arrangements upon arrival nor any restrictions to their travel purposes or itineraries if they comply with a set of anti-epidemic protocols. The number of designated flights arriving in Hong Kong will increase progressively, from one flight per day in the first 15 days to two flights per day after that depending on the actual implementation. Each designated flight can carry a maximum of 200 ATB travelers. Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau (Nov 11) emphasized that there are stringent measures in place to safeguard public health under the arrangement. “This is the very first ATB for Hong Kong. It matters not only for cross-border travel between the two places, but also reflects the Government's hope to progressively restore the city's economic activities amid the long-drawn battle against COVID-19,” he said.
Hong Kong’s GDP improves in third quarter
Hong Kong’s economy in the third quarter fell by 3.5% year-on-year, a marked improvement from the 9% contraction in the second quarter. On a seasonally adjusted quarter-to-quarter comparison, real GDP rebounded by 2.8% in the third quarter, arresting the declines in the preceding five quarters. The improvement was attributed to an improved external trading environment amid the accelerated growth of the Mainland economy, along with the stabilized local epidemic situation, and stronger financial market activity. The Hong Kong economy is projected to contract by 6.1% for this year as a whole. Separately, Hong Kong’s volume of total goods exports increased by 10.3% year-on-year in September while the volume of goods imports for the month rose 4.6% in the same comparison period.
SCED attends APEC ministerial meeting
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting (Nov 16), Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau expressed Hong Kong’s strong interest in joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). He said the signing and launching of the partnership is an important milestone for economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region that sends a strong and clear message in support of an open, inclusive and rules-based trade and investment arrangement. Mr Yau said Hong Kong stands ready to start dialogues on accession with its member economies when the time is ripe for the RCEP to take on new partners. At the virtual meeting, Mr Yau also discussed global trade issues and regional economic integration and shared views with other ministers on the support for the multilateral trading system and the World Trade Organization, responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery, and efforts to promote a digital economy.
Leading asset and wealth-management hub
Hong Kong’s private banking and private wealth-management business soared 19% year-on-year, to US$1.15 trillion. Net fund inflow rose 80% to US$87.3 billion, reaffirming the city’s status as a leading regional asset and wealth-management hub, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan. Addressing some 1,000 participants in the banking and financial services sector at the Private Wealth Management Association Virtual Wealth Management Week 2020 (Nov 10), Mr Chan said the introduction of the Limited Partnership Fund regime at the end of August has bolstered Hong Kong’s continuing rise as a premier private equity home, with 32 funds registered in just over two months’ time. The recent announcement of the Hong Kong-Guangdong-Macao Greater Bay Area’s Wealth Management Connect scheme, along with the Stock Connect and Bond Connect offerings, marked another milestone in promoting mutual access to financial markets between Hong Kong and the Mainland. 
Innovation & technology crucial to development
Innovation & Technology (I&T) is key to the development of Hong Kong, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan, pointing out that technology is at the heart of sustainable social and economic development, with innovation a key driver in quality growth under the newly-announced National 14th Five-Year Plan. Speaking at the Impact Conference 2020 (Nov 11), Mr Chan said the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the central policy priority the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has placed on innovation and technology. In the past three years, the Government has devoted over US$12.8 billion to a great variety of I&T programs and initiatives, ranging from infrastructure provision and R&D to investment funding and talent development. Hong Kong will also boost its technological collaboration with other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, particularly Shenzhen.
Vital role as global digital supply-chain services hub
Hong Kong’s enhanced role as a smart supply-chain services hub, with the city driving digital production through the use of technology tools in the 3D and virtual sampling space is highlighted in the report “Future of Sourcing: 2021 and Beyond”, released by Invest Hong Kong and KPMG. With a high concentration of sourcing talent, the city is the ideal regional and global sourcing hub to manage supply chains, and looks set to benefit as a center for professional services, especially in the areas of environmental, social and governance matters and sustainability. The report draws on the insights of KPMG professionals and industry experts in areas ranging from long-established businesses in textiles and fashion to technology start-ups to examine the current state of the sourcing industry in Hong Kong and the future of supply chains.
Convention & Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme extended 
The Convention & Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme related to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) will be launched on Nov 30 and the entire subsidy scheme will be extended to Dec 31, 2021. Under the scheme, 50% of the participation fees for exhibitors of exhibitions organized by HKTDC will be subsidized. Participants of the HKTDC’s major conventions can also receive a subsidy equivalent to 50% of their participation fees, subject to a cap of USD$1,282 each time. Exhibitors and participants of major conventions do not need to submit applications as HKTDC will directly deduct the subsidy from the amount receivable. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may apply in tandem for funding support under the SME Export Marketing Fund to cover their participation fees on a matching basis.
NPCSC decision explained
The decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) on Nov 11 is constitutional, lawful and necessary and it provides guidance on the legal consequences of a Legislative Council (LegCo) member’s failure to uphold the Basic Law (BL) and swear allegiance to the HKSAR. Article 104 of the BL requires designated public officers including LegCo members, when assuming office, to swear to uphold the BL and swear allegiance to the HKSAR. Such requirements are also the legal prerequisite and conditions for an individual to run for election as prescribed in Hong Kong's relevant local legislation. The NPCSC decision provided the solid legal basis for the HKSAR Government to disqualify four LegCo members by stipulating that such consequences were applicable to LegCo members who were confirmed in accordance with the law to be ineligible to become candidates for LegCo election. Indeed, swearing allegiance to the system of the country and upholding the laws of the state is an international norm for public officers and any breach of the oath will not be tolerated. The HKSAR Government fully recognizes that the rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability, and is determined to safeguard this core value at all times. 
US sanctions unacceptable
Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung (Nov 10) said US sanctions against four Mainland and Hong Kong officials are absolutely unacceptable. Mr Cheung said the HKSAR Government is obligated to safeguard national security. “We are doing our job to protect and safeguard Hong Kong’s national security and the nation's security. It’s incumbent on Hong Kong officials to do that, incumbent on Hong Kong people to safeguard national security,” he said. The HKSAR Government reiterated that national security is a matter of utmost importance to any state. Laws governing national security are matters for the sovereign state, regardless of whether it is a unitary or federal system of government. Enforcement of national security is likewise under the purview of the Central Authorities. The National Security Law enacted on Jun 30, 2020 is in line with all these general features, and in recognition of the HKSAR's special status, authorizes the HKSAR Government to be the main enforcement entity. Article 4 of the National Security Law specifies that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, and the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents under the Basic Law as well as the provisions in international covenants as applied to Hong Kong shall be protected in accordance with the law.
Social distancing measures tightened
With signs of a rebound in local confirmed cases with unknown sources of infection, Hong Kong is tightening social distancing measures, with effect from Nov 16 for 11 days. The tightened measures include restricting the number of people seated at restaurants to four and capping the number at two per table in bars, pubs, clubs or nightclubs. The number of guests in each guestroom in hotels and guesthouses is limited to four people, with guests required to register their details with the hotel operators. Starting Nov 18, the Department of Health will disallow visitors for people under compulsory quarantine in hotels. The prohibition on group gatherings of more than four people in public places and the mandatory mask-wearing requirement on public transport and in all public places remain in effect. The public is urged to avoid non-mask-wearing group activities and to avoid as far as possible gatherings in private places that may not contravene the social distancing measures.
COVID-19 notification app launched
The “LeaveHomeSafe” COVID-19 exposure notification mobile app will be available for public download from Nov 16. The app, characterized by voluntary participation and recording visits at users’ discretion, aims to encourage the public to keep a more precise record of their whereabouts, minimizing the risk of further transmission of the virus and protect Hong Kong together. There are currently over 6,000 public and private venues that have pledged support for the scheme. The mobile app can also be used directly in over 18,000 taxis. The HKSAR Government has been actively engaging with trades and businesses, and would welcome more sectors to participate in the program and contribute to the epidemic prevention and control work in the city.
Return2hk program unveiled
Hong Kong residents who fulfill specified conditions will be exempted from the 14-day compulsory quarantine requirement when they return to Hong Kong from Guangdong or Macau starting Nov 23, under the Return2hk travel scheme. Hong Kong residents must not have been to places other than Hong Kong, Guangdong or Macau in the past 14 days. During the initial stage of the scheme's implementation, a quota will be put in place to control the number of cross-boundary travelers. A daily quota of 3,000 has been set for the Shenzhen Bay Port, while that for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port is 2,000.
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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