APRIL 27 - MAY 3, 2021
First quarter economy grows 7.8%
Hong Kong’s economy in the first quarter of 2021 expanded 7.8% year-on-year, ending the streak of contraction in the preceding six quarters. According to the advance estimates, GDP rose visibly by 5.3% in the first quarter this year, as against the decrease of 2.8% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Private consumption expenditure increased 1.6% year-on-year in real terms in, while government consumption expenditure grew 6.7%. Total goods exports recorded a 30.6% increase and goods imports grew by 23.3%. Exports of services fell by 8.7% and imports of services decreased 14.9%. The sharp economic rebound in the first quarter mainly reflected the very strong growth of goods exports amid the global economic recovery led by the Mainland and the US. However, the economic recovery was uneven and the overall economic activity was still below the pre-recession level due to the COVID-19 epidemic and social distancing requirements that continued to weigh on certain economic segments.
Passage of tax bills welcomed
Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Christopher Hui welcomed the passage of the Revenue (Tax Concessions) Bill 2021 by the Legislative Council (Apr 28). The new ordinance gives effect to the tax concessions proposed by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government this year. Under the arrangement, salaries tax, tax under personal assessment and profits tax for the year of assessment 2020-21 will be reduced by 100% subject to a ceiling of US$1,282 per case. Mr Hui said the concessionary measure helps relieve the financial burden of taxpayers, benefiting 1.87 million people who pay salaries tax and tax under personal assessment and 128,000 businesses. Mr Hui also welcomed the passage of the Inland Revenue (Amendment) (Tax Concessions for Carried Interest) Bill 2021, which seeks to provide tax concessions for carried interest distributed by eligible private equity funds operating in Hong Kong. This would attract more private equity funds to operate and be managed in Hong Kong, thereby boosting more investment management and related activities, which will bring business opportunities to various professional services and economic benefits to the city.
Hong Kong - A global hub for textiles and clothing sourcing
A global hub for textiles and clothing sourcing, Hong Kong not only serve as a gateway for international textile companies to promote their products to other Asian economies, but is also the ideal one stop sourcing center for buyers looking for new and trendy materials, said Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York, Candy Nip. Delivering opening remarks at the World Textile Information Network Webinar (Apr 28), Ms Nip said that Hong Kong, as one of the key players in the world, is fully aligned with the international efforts to reduce environmental impact. “Changes that companies put in place include stepping up investments in technological solutions, reengineering the supply chain and redesigning business strategies. Many of these adjustments are not only for making the textile industry more sustainable but can also reduce costs and improve efficiency. In this sense, this should be a win-win situation,” she said. Closing the webinar, Emily Choi of Invest Hong Kong highlighted Hong Kong’s appeal as a sourcing hub, including the city's textile and apparel landscape and entrepreneurial and innovation opportunities in the city. Other speakers at the webinar included Dr Gloria Yao of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel; and business leaders in the textile and apparel industry in Hong Kong and the US.
Social distancing measures to be relaxed under vaccine bubble
Responding to the aspirations of various trades and the public to resume normal daily lives as soon as possible, the HKSAR Government is adopting a new direction in the fight against the pandemic by relaxing certain restrictions with “vaccine bubble” as the basis. Social distancing measures for restaurants will vary, with customers separated into different zones, based on a number of factors, including the vaccination doses of staff and customers, and whether the “LeaveHomseSafe” mobile application is used. Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan explained that the relaxation of social distancing measures will be carried out in a gradual and progressive manner. “Now that we have enough or adequate vaccines provided for the people in Hong Kong, therefore this ‘vaccine bubble’ is a very important public health measure so that we can have a safe relaxation and also mitigate the risk associated with the relaxation,” she said. To date (May 3), more than 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered for members of the public.
Flight landing rules tightened
Hong Kong has further tightened the criteria of the flight suspension mechanism and will now prohibit all passenger flights from India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines from landing in Hong Kong effective May 1 for 14 days. Starting from the same day, people who have stayed in these four places are also restricted from boarding for Hong Kong. As a measure to manage the flight resumption arrangements more cautiously under the mechanism, the Government will conduct risk assessments every two weeks for comprehensive reviews of relevant factors such as the epidemic situation of the relevant places, vaccination rate, and the prevalence of new virus variants before determining whether it is appropriate to remove the flight suspension. 
StartmeupHK Festival to launch this month
StartmeupHK Festival, Asia’s leading annual startup event organized by Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), returns in a virtual format May 24-28. Under the theme “Welcome to a Future Unlimited”, this year’s festival will feature 14 main events that will provide insights on the latest ideas, trends and innovation along with business opportunities. In a preview to this year’s Festival, the InvestHK units in New York, San Francisco and Toronto, are organizing a special preview salon event on May 5 to showcase opportunities for startups, venture capitalists and corporate investors in Hong Kong and across the region. Learn more about Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem and what it offers for early stage companies and budding entrepreneurs at StartmeupHK North American Salon Event!
US premiere of “Ready O/R Knot” rescheduled
Due to inclement weather, the closing night screening of Hong Kong film “Ready O/R Knot” at Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema (APUC), originally scheduled for May 2 was canceled. The US premiere of this quirky dark comedy-romance is now rescheduled to screen on May 7 at 8 PM at the Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago). Under COVID-19 guidelines, the 276-seat theatre will be limited to 25% capacity. Ticket holders for the May 2 screening will need to contact APUC (Email: asianpopupinfo@gmail.com) to reconfirm their attendance by May 7 or to get refund. All tickets holders are automatically entered for a raffle winning an eclectic closing night swag bag. The winner must be present to win when the prize is drawn at the end of the show.
Arts in Hong Kong
Explore the beauty of Hong Kong through arts and you just might find yourself with a whole new perspective. Peruse world-class arts online at international arts fairs such as Art Basel Hong Kong (May 21 – 23) and Arts Central (May 20 – 23). Or perhaps venture out and tick off arts itineraries at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Yim Tim Tsai Arts Festival (Apr 16 – Jul 16) or the Freespace Mural (ongoing) and discover arty delights and offers along the way. Start your arts journey now!
  • The value of Hong Kong’s total exports increased to US$52.4 billion in March, up 26.4% year-on-year. The value of imports of goods increased 21.7% to US$55.9 billion for the same period, resulting in a trade deficit of US$3.4 billion, or 6.2% of the value of imports.

  • The HKSAR Government recorded a US$29.8 billion deficit for the year ended Mar 31. Expenditure was at US$104.6 billion and revenue at US$72.3 billion, resulting in the deficit after receipt of net proceeds of US$2.4 billion from issuance of green bonds under the Government Green Bond Program. Fiscal reserves stood at US$118.9 billion as of end-March.
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 is the role of the People’s Liberation Army in Hong Kong under the Basic Law?
A: The maintenance of public order in the HKSAR is the responsibility of the HKSAR Government. The People's Liberation Army stationed in the HKSAR is responsible for the defense of the HKSAR and does not interfere in the local affairs of the HKSAR. In addition to abiding by national laws, members of the garrison shall abide by the laws of the HKSAR. Expenditure for maintaining these military forces is borne by the CPG. (BL Article 14)

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