October 27 - November 2, 2020
Economy improves in 3rd quarter
Hong Kong’s overall economic performance saw some improvement in the third quarter of 2020. According to the advance estimates on GDP (Oct 30), the city's economy contracted 3.4% year-on-year, which is much lower than the 9% decrease in the second quarter. On a seasonally adjusted quarter-to-quarter comparison, GDP rose by 3% in the quarter, ending five consecutive quarters of contraction. In addition, the values of Hong Kong’s total exports and imports both recorded year-on-year increases in September, at 9.1% and 3.4% respectively. While the year-on-year decline in retail sales remained notable in September, it showed some improvement over August as the third wave of the local epidemic abated. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government said the latest economic performance was attributable to an improved external environment led by the solid expansion of the Mainland economy, some revival in sentiment in the latter part of the quarter amid the stabilization of the local epidemic situation and stronger financial market activity.
Government launches WTO dispute action
The HKSAR Government has formally launched procedures in accordance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Mechanism with respect to the new requirement on origin marking for Hong Kong products announced by the United States (US) Customs and Border Protection in August. Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau (Oct 30) reiterated that the US’ unilateral and irresponsible attempt to weaken Hong Kong’s status as a separate customs territory is highly inappropriate. “Our Permanent Representative to the WTO has sent to the US’ Permanent Representative (to the WTO) a request for formal bilateral consultations with the US on its new requirement under the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism,” said Mr Yau. “I have also written to the US Trade Representative, informing the US that the HKSAR has officially taken action against the US under the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism.”
Hong Kong Legal Week opens
Hong Kong Legal Week, opened virtually on Nov 2 in Hong Kong, featuring renowned local and international legal professionals, academics and experts to share their insights and experiences on legal and dispute resolution issues of current times through an array of webinars. Speaking at the opening, Chief Executive Carrie Lam reiterated that the rule of law and judicial independence are the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success and are constitutionally enshrined in the Basic Law. The virtual event also marked the opening of the Hong Kong Legal Hub and the official launch of the “Vision 2030 for Rule of Law” ("Vision 2030"). Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said Vision 2030 is a 10-year visionary initiative which seeks to promote the proper understanding and recognition of the rule of law and contribute to the sustainable development of inclusive and rule-based societies at both the local and international levels.
Hong Kong leads in fintech development
Hong Kong FinTech Week 2020 kicked off this morning (Nov 2) with 100,000+ live participants virtually from 70+ global economies on the first day of the main conference. Speaking at the flagship event, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said Hong Kong has shown remarkable resourcefulness throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with the city continuing to be the region’s leading financial services hub. Noting that the 2020 FM Global Resilience Index ranked Hong Kong Asia’s most resilient economy, Mr Chan said the city, home to more than 600 fintech companies and start-ups including eight unicorns, is fast becoming the first choice among those looking to reach new clients, investors and markets in Asia. Hong Kong has also adopted a number of major fintech initiatives, including the Faster Payment System, the eTradeConnect blockchain platform, virtual banks and insurers, and virtual asset trading company. The city’s consumer fintech adoption rate, at 67% last year, is among the world’s highest, according to the EY Global FinTech Adoption Index, ranking above advanced economies such as the US and Japan. Also speaking at the opening of the fintech event, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Eddie Yue announced a range of initiatives to further foster the fintech ecosystem and support corporates, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.
Hong Kong as a global aviation hub
Robotics and technology automation, big data analytics, cold-chain business, supply chain optimization and 5G applications in logistics amid the rise in e-commerce were among the topics discussed by Hong Kong and US aviation industry panelists at the “Hong Kong as a Global Aviation Hub - Unleash the Opportunities in the Post Covid-19 World” webinar (Oct 28). Moderated by President of GlobalMesh Robert Marsh, the virtual event featured Executive Director (Commercial) of Airport Authority Hong Kong Cissy Chan, Director of Air Service Development of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Elliott Paige, Head of Innovation and Technology at Invest Hong Kong Andy Wong, and CEO of the Logistics and Supply Chain MultiTech R&D Centre Simon Wong. Director of HKETONY Candy Nip and Director, New York of Hong Kong Trade Development Council Anna Fan also spoke at the virtual event.
Passport collection enhancements set
The Immigration Department (ImmD) has introduced (Oct 30) a new measure on collection of passports overseas. Local or overseas applicants who submit applications directly to the ImmD may choose to collect their passports at the Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Missions. The normal processing time is five working days after receiving all necessary documents (excluding the time required for dispatch of the passport). For applications submitted by post, an extra two to three working days may be required. Separately, to facilitate the collection of passports in Hong Kong, new Passport Collection Kiosk will be introduced in phases, allowing applicants to collect their passports at the new kiosks installed at Immigration Headquarters and West Kowloon Office in a self-service manner. This is in addition to the existing collection mean via service counters at the department's headquarters and Immigration Branch Offices. 
Social distancing measures further relaxed
Social distancing measures in Hong Kong were further relaxed on Oct 30, with dine-in services at all catering businesses extended until 2 am. The maximum number of people allowed to be seated together at one table in restaurants has been increased from four to six and in bars and pubs from two to four. Live performances and dancing activities are also allowed to take place on the premises of catering businesses, clubs and nightclubs, subject to the implementation of suitable infection prevention and control measures. The capacity limit in catering business premises including bars and pubs, public entertainment venues such as theme parks, performance venues, nightclubs and swimming pools has been increased from 50% to 75%. Public beaches will reopen on Nov 3. Unless exempted, the prohibition on group gatherings of more than four people in public places will continue while mandatory mask-wearing on public transport and in all public places will remain in effect.
Scholarship applications open
Applications for the Hong Kong Scholarship for Excellence Scheme are open until Jan 12 for eligible students who intend to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate studies at world-renowned universities outside Hong Kong for the 2021-22 academic year. Selection will be based on academic achievements and other attributes such as leadership qualities and potential as well as contributions and commitment to society. Awardees need to complete their study programs and return to Hong Kong upon graduation to work for at least two years or a period equivalent to the duration of the scholarship received, whichever is longer. Applications can be submitted online.
  • The HKSAR Government recorded a US$35.8 billion deficit for the six months ending Sep 30. Expenditure for the period was US$54.8 billion and revenue was US$18.9 billion.

  • Total assets of Hong Kong’s Exchange Fund amounted to US$536.7 billion as at Sep 30. This is US$3.3 billion higher than that at the end of August. The Monetary Base at the end-September was US$243.1 billion while Backing Assets rose by 3.8% to US$269.4 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: Can Hong Kong conclude and implement agreements with foreign states and regions or international organizations, and participate in international conferences?
A: Hong Kong plays an active role in the international arena and maintains close contact with its international partners. The HKSAR may under the authorization of the Central People’s Government (CPG) conclude certain agreements with foreign states or regions, or may on its own, using the name “Hong Kong, China”, maintain and develop relations and conclude and implement agreements with foreign states and regions and relevant international organizations in the appropriate fields.

Since Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland, the HKSAR Government, authorized by the CPG, has concluded about 600 bilateral agreements in accordance with the Basic Law, including air services agreements, visa abolition agreements, free trade agreements, and cultural co-operation agreements etc. In addition, the HKSAR may, as members of delegations of the People’s Republic of China, or in such other capacity as may be permitted by the CPG and the international organization or conference concerned, or using the name “Hong Kong, China”, participate in relevant international organizations and conferences. (BL Articles 96; 133; 151; 152; 155)

For daily updates
Follow us