September 15 - 21, 2020
US urged to withdraw Hong Kong goods rule
Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau said he met (Sep 16) Acting US Consul General to Hong Kong & Macau Paul Horowitz and asked Mr Horowitz to deliver his letter to the US Trade Representative. The letter expresses the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government’s position that it strongly objects to the new requirement that was announced by US Customs & Border Protection (Aug 11) and requests that the requirement be immediately withdrawn. Mr Yau said the new US requirement goes contrary to the World Trade Organization's (WTO) regulations and also infringes on Hong Kong’s status as a separate customs territory and the city’s rights under the WTO. The Hong Kong Economic & Trade Offices in Washington, DC, and Geneva have already forwarded copies of Mr Yau’s letter to the Office of the US Trade Representative, US Customs & Border Protection, and to the Permanent Mission of the US to the WTO respectively.
Post-pandemic regional cooperation
The HKSAR Government is actively taking forward the development of the Greater Bay Area, with strategic focuses on consolidating Hong Kong’s status as an international aviation hub and promoting Hong Kong’s high value-added maritime services. Speaking via video-conference at the 2020 Pan-Pearl River Delta (PPRD) Regional Cooperation Chief Executive Joint Conference (Sep 18), Chief Executive Carrie Lam discussed the joint promotion of high-quality development of regional co-operation in the post-epidemic era, the building of a modernized transport network and a joint innovative platform for cross-system collaboration. Noting that professional services, in particular financial and legal services, are the fundamental strengths of Hong Kong, she hoped that these sectors could assist enterprises of the PPRD region to explore overseas markets.
Financial Leaders Forum held
Briefed by Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing on the latest development of Hong Kong’s listing platform and IPO market, including the challenges and opportunities under the current geo-political environment, members of the Financial Leaders Forum welcomed (Sep 16) the initiatives outlined to attract more high quality companies to list, primary or secondary, on Hong Kong’s stock exchange. During the forum, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) provided an update on the cross-boundary wealth management connect pilot scheme in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Members noted that the pilot scheme would bring new business opportunities to Hong Kong’s financial industry and provide more wealth management product choices for bay area residents. The HKMA will continue to work closely with relevant authorities to formulate the scheme’s implementation details with a view to rolling it out as soon as practicable. Members also agreed that developing the REIT market was essential in enhancing Hong Kong’s status as a premier asset and wealth management center. The HKSAR Government and financial regulators will explore various measures to step up market development and investor education. 
Hong Kong remains committed to the rule of law
The HKSAR Government said nobody should doubt its commitment to the rule of law and judicial independence. Making the remarks in response to media queries (Sep 19), a government spokesman pointed out that the Basic Law, which provides for the political structure of the HKSAR, also upholds judicial independence. Basic Law Article 2 clearly states that Hong Kong enjoys independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, while Article 8 stipulates that the common law system shall be maintained. “This is Hong Kong’s unique strength and advantage and is often cited by international business as a major factor for their continued presence and success in the city,” the spokesman said. The spokesman also stressed that there could be no question of the National Security Law affecting Hong Kong's judicial independence and the smooth operation of the judicial system, including the Court of Final Appeal.
National Security Law contributes to Hong Kong’s progress
The Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung, in his capacity as the deputy head of the China delegation, delivered a video message at the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council held in Geneva (Sep 15). He stressed that the National Security Law is designed to bolster the successful “one country, two systems” principle, which will continue to drive Hong Kong’s progress. He explained that the legislation was enacted to restore safety and stability following the social unrest last year. The law seeks to preserve Hong Kong’s core values, including rights and freedoms, the rule of law and judicial independence, while fundamental rights and freedoms remain intact under the Basic Law and the relevant provisions of international covenants as applied to Hong Kong.
Government recruitment drive underway
A HKSAR Government recruitment exercise is currently underway for four graduate posts including Administrative Officers, Executive Officers II, Assistant Trade Officers II and 1Transport Officers II. Current final year undergraduates may also apply. Entry requirements for these posts can be found on the Civil Service Bureau homepage and the government portal GovHK. Applicants in the US who do not possess the requisite Common Recruitment Examination (CRE) results may take part in the coming CRE and Basic Law Test to be held tentatively on Dec 5 in New York and San Francisco, subject to the respective regulations and prevailing measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Application forms are available online.
Social distancing measures further relaxed
Hong Kong continues to relax social distancing measures in a gradual and orderly manner. Since Sep 18, dine-in services at catering business premises have been extended to midnight at 50% capacity, and no more than four people per table. More premises including bars and pubs, theme parks, and exhibition centers, have also reopened with reduced capacity along with applicable restrictions and requirements. Live performances and dancing are not allowed. The existing mask-wearing requirement in public places and on public transport continues to be in effect. Members of the public are urged to continue to maintain the awareness of epidemic prevention, particularly to stay vigilant and maintain personal and environmental hygiene, in order to prevent the recurrence of epidemic outbreak in the community. 
“Two-pronged” vaccine procurement strategy
The HKSAR Government will adopt a “two-pronged strategy” to procure vaccines meeting the criteria of safety, efficacy and quality for the Hong Kong population. The Government has already joined the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, which will provide vaccines to 35% of Hong Kong people. At the same time, the Government will pursue additional supplies with individual vaccine developers. The Government aims to procure sufficient doses of vaccines to cover at least twice the Hong Kong population. Vaccine procurement is part of the range of preparations the Government is adopting, as it stays vigilant, to prevent and combat the next wave of COVID-19 pandemic under its “suppress and lift” strategy.
  • August’s overall consumer prices fell by 0.4% year-on-year, with the decrease smaller than the corresponding decrease (-2.3%) in July. 

  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 6.1% for the June-Aug period, unchanged from the previous three-month period.

  • The volume of total exports and imports of goods in July fell by 2.3% and 2.2% respectively, year-on-year. Comparing the first seven months of 2020 with the same period in 2019, the volume of goods exports fell 5.6%, while that of goods imports dropped 7.6%.
Submissions welcomed for Basic Law Writing Competition
The Basic Law Writing Competition is open for submissions from individual or group through Oct 23. The submitted essays, titled “My vision of how the Basic Law should be implemented in Hong Kong”, must be written in either Chinese or English. Each individual or group may submit up to three essays for the competition. The theme of the competition covers three areas, including how Hong Kong successfully maintains its status as an international financial center under the safeguards of the Basic Law, and how the city can leverage its unique economic advantages under the implementation of national policies. It also covers the high degree of autonomy Hong Kong enjoys as a Special Administrative Region, and the protection of human right afforded to the people of Hong Kong under the Basic Law. Three winning entries will each receive an e-coupon worth US$400 and 10 merit entries will each receive an e-coupon worth US$100. The Basic Law 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”.

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