November 24 - 30, 2020
2020 policy blueprint unveiled
Delivering her annual Policy Address, entitled “Striving Ahead with Renewed Perseverance” (Nov 25), Chief Executive Carrie Lam revealed wide-ranging strategies and initiatives with a view to restore Hong Kong’s constitutional order, consolidate and enhance the city’s strengths, and bolster its economy. To leverage the unique advantages under the “One Country, Two Systems”, integrate proactively into national development, strengthen connections with the world, create more land, retain and attract talents, and invest substantially in information and technology will be the principles guiding the city’s economic development strategy.

Briefing more than 80 representatives of the Consular Corps and the International Business Committee on the Policy Address (Nov 26), Mrs Lam said Hong Kong has all along been and will continue to be an international city, with international connectivity one of the city’s key strengths, through which it has developed into the international financial, trade and business center it is today. “We are determined to strengthen our international connectivity in order to maintain our competitiveness,” she said. The Chief Executive welcomed the overseas business community to take part in the many exciting opportunities, such as those arising from initiatives to enhance the city’s status as an international financial center, international aviation hub and international innovation and technology hub.
Belt-Road summit opens
The fifth Belt & Road Summit opened (Nov 30) with more than 6,000 government officials, entrepreneurs and professionals from about 80 countries and regions signed up to participate online. In her opening address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam highlighted the importance of global collaboration at this time of profound changes, which had the potential to unleash innovation and create opportunities. Congratulating the 15 states on the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) earlier this month, she stressed that the agreement was a strong testimony to free trade, multilateralism and regional co-operation and would inject fresh impetus to the global economy. She said that Hong Kong had received clear support from some of the partnership’s member states on joining the RCEP and looked forward to beginning discussions on Hong Kong’s accession at the earliest opportunity. The Chief Executive said that Hong Kong, an active player in the Belt & Road Initiative, is keen to strengthen collaboration and partnership with other Belt & Road economies on various fronts, including the sharing of its home-grown, anti-epidemic technology. Addressing a business plenary, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said Hong Kong was increasingly turning to green and sustainable finance to drive initiatives in public health, climate resilience and financial development. He added Hong Kong would capitalize on the unprecedented green and sustainable finance opportunities presented by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt & Road Initiative.
Financial leaders meet
At the 14th meeting of the Financial Leaders Forum (Nov 30) chaired by Financial Secretary Paul Chan, the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing briefed members on the latest development of Hong Kong’s listing regime for companies with corporate weighted voting rights structures and secondary listing companies. These include the new grandfathering arrangements that allow qualifying companies with corporate weighted voting rights structures to secondary-list in the city subject to relevant investor protection safeguards. The meeting also covered the latest updates on the use of sandboxes established by financial regulators to address regulatory, supervisory concerns at the initial development stage of new fintech products and solutions and the Government’s proposal to introduce a licensing regime for virtual asset service providers and on the latest development of the eMPF Platform.
HKMA to chair the EMEAP Study Group on Resolution
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has been appointed (Nov 27) as the chair of the Study Group on Resolution (SGR) of the Executives’ Meeting of East Asia-Pacific Central Banks (EMEAP) for a two-year term from 2020 to 2022. The SGR supports knowledge sharing and discussion among regional authorities in relation to resolution in a cross-border context. Chief Executive of the HKMA Eddie Yue, who is also chair of the EMEAP Governors' Meeting for 2020, said the SGR will play a useful role in supporting knowledge sharing on practical cross-border resolution matters. “The HKMA looks forward to contributing to the work of the SGR over the next two years.” 
Legal arrangement will enhance mutual understanding
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, SC, and Vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court Yang Wanming, signed a supplemental arrangement concerning mutual enforcement of arbitral awards between the Mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Shenzhen on Nov 27. The Arrangement Concerning Mutual Enforcement of Arbitral Awards between the Mainland and the HKSAR, which was signed in 1999, has been in force for 20 years and the co-operation has delivered fruitful results. The signing of the supplementary arrangement would enhance mutual understanding of each other’s legal assistance system and also facilitate members of the public, particularly those in the legal and dispute resolution sectors, to better understand such measure. The supplemental arrangement, in accordance with the spirit of the New York Convention, will also be conducive to the development of Hong Kong’s legal and dispute resolution services in the Greater Bay Area. It will also enhance Hong Kong’s status as an international legal hub for legal, deal-making and dispute resolution services.
Epidemic measures to be tightened
The HKSAR Government announced (Nov 30) that social distancing measures will be further tightened starting from Dec 2 amid a new wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in the city. Speaking at a press conference, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said more stringent measures are required to curb the virus’ spread. including the closure of more venues and premises, restricting public gatherings to only two people at a time, reducing dine-in hours, having civil servants work from home and raising fines for violating social distancing rules. Face-to-face classes at all kindergartens and schools will also be suspended until after the Christmas holidays. In view of the severe epidemic situation, Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection called on members of the public to avoid going out, having social contact and dining out. 
Hong Kong ready for vaccine procurement
With positive news from the World Health Organization and research institutions about the development of COVID-19 vaccines, the HKSAR Government is adopting a dual-track strategy in procuring COVID-19 vaccines to safeguard the health of Hong Kong people. Hong Kong has joined the international COVAX (COVID-19 vaccine Global Access) arrangement and is also discussing, negotiating and signing advance purchase agreements with some research companies and drug production companies. In addition to reserving enough money to procure vaccines, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said (Nov 24) Hong Kong remains vigilant in fighting the epidemic and will continue to introduce anti-epidemic measures as necessary. 
  • In October, the value of Hong Kong’s total exports fell 1.1% year-on-year to US$44.1 billion in October while the value of goods imports rose 0.6% year-on-year to US$48.8 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of US$4.7 billion, or 9.6% of the value of imports for the period. The values of total exports to the US fell by 3.9% with the values of imports from the US down 4.1%.

  • Expenditure for the period April to October 2020 amounted to US$64.2 billion and revenue US$24.2 billion, resulting in a cumulative year-to-date deficit of US$40 billion. Fiscal reserves stood at US$108.6 billion as at October 31.

  • Total assets of the Exchange Fund amounted to US$572.5 billion as at Oct 31. This is US$35.8 billion higher than that at the end of September. Foreign currency assets increased by US$35.2 billion and Hong Kong dollar assets increased by US$576 million. Backing Assets increased by 10.2% to US$296.9 billion.
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: What does the Basic Law say about democratic development in Hong Kong?
A: The Basic Law sets out the blueprint for the democratic development of the HKSAR. The method for selecting the Chief Executive and forming the Legislative Council shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the HKSAR and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the election of the Chief Executive and all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. (BL Articles 45; 68; Annexes I and II)

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