OCT 26 - NOV 1, 2021
Economy grows 5.4% in third quarter
Hong Kong’s economy in the third quarter of 2021 grew 5.4% year-on-year. For the first three quarters of 2021, real GDP grew 7% over a year earlier. Looking ahead, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government expects that the global economic recovery should give further support to Hong Kong’s merchandise exports. However, the threat of the more infectious COVID-19 variants, together with supply bottlenecks in many economies, will continue to pose downside risks to the global economy. GDP is forecast to grow by between 5.5% and 6.5% in 2021.
Vaccination rules for inbound travelers adjusted
Starting Oct 29, COVID-19 vaccination requirements for inbound travelers into Hong Kong will be adjusted. Under the adjusted requirements, Hong Kong residents who have received one dose of a recognized COVID-19 vaccine and hold a recognized vaccination record will be allowed to board for Hong Kong from the US if they are certified by a medical practitioner for being unfit to receive the second dose on health grounds. For those aged 12 to 17, if they have received one dose of the BioNTech vaccine at least 14 days prior, they are also deemed to have completed the COVID-19 vaccination course. Upon arrival in Hong Kong, they are still required to undergo a 21-day quarantine in a designated quarantine hotel with compulsory testing on the 26th day of arrival.
Anti-epidemic work constantly reviewed
Hong Kong is proactively improving its anti-epidemic measures, in particular, to create favorable conditions for the early resumption of quarantine-free travel from Hong Kong to the Mainland. In her monthly article (Oct 27), Chief Executive Carrie Lam said testing frequency for airport staff has already been increased. Most quarantine exemption groups for inbound travelers will also be removed starting Nov 12. She also urged Hong Kong residents to get vaccinated in order to boost the overall vaccination rate in the community. “Only then we will be able to achieve the shared goals of resuming quarantine-free travel with the Mainland and a normal life as early as possible,” she said. As at Oct 25, around 68.2% of the eligible population in Hong Kong has received the first dose of the vaccine.
Invitation for new round of applications from VC funds
The Innovation and Technology Commission is inviting a new round of applications from venture capital (VC) funds to become co-investment partners of the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund (ITVF). VC funds incorporated in Hong Kong, Mainland China or overseas are welcome to apply by the deadline of Jan 31, 2022. Set up to encourage VC funds investment in local I&T startups and to create a more vibrant I&T ecosystem in Hong Kong, the ITVF to date has had a total of 11 partners and has co-invested in 22 local innovation and technology startups. The HKSAR Government’s investment has amounted to around US$18.2 million, attracting around US$113.9 million of private investment in the same funding round.
Shaw Prize awards for 3 US-based scientists
This year’s Shaw Prize recognizes the outstanding contributions of three US-based scientists, including the recipient of the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, Professor Scott D Emr of Cornell University. The Shaw Prize in Astronomy 2021 is shared by Professor Chryssa Kouveliotou of George Washington University and Professor Victoria M Kaspi of McGill University while the Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences is shared by Professor Jeff Cheeger of New York University and Professor Jean-Michel Bismut of the Université Paris-Saclay. The Shaw Prize 2021 award ceremony was held virtually on Oct 28.
Hong Kong well-positioned in dispute resolution
Speaking at the ADR in Asia Conference: Tomorrow’s Disputes (Oct 27), Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said Hong Kong is well-equipped to resolve any future disputes, including those arising from the growth of digitalization or financial technology. She also pointed out that the interim measures arrangement between Hong Kong and Mainland China introduced in 2019 is seen as a game-changer in Hong Kong, with over 50 interim measures applications worth RMB 14.6 billion having been processed as at mid-September this year. The arrangement empowers Mainland courts to grant interim measures for certain Hong Kong arbitrations and increases Hong Kong’s attractiveness as a seat of arbitration.
Hong Kong Legal Week 2021 opens
Hong Kong Legal Week 2021 opens (Nov 1) with the fourth United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Asia Pacific Judicial Summit, with more than 80 judges participating in person or online. Delivering opening remarks, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said that the summit comprises two parts, the judicial conference and the judicial roundtable, to balance and cater for the needs of judges and judicial officers to gain knowledge and discuss their experience. The summit’s scope had been expanded to cover more topics beyond arbitration, such as insolvency and public-private partnership.
Hong Kong strong in maritime arbitration
The signing of two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), namely the MoU on co-operation and promotion of international maritime arbitration, and the MoU on co-operation in professional exchange and development, between Hong Kong and other parts of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) will create synergy among the key maritime stakeholders, said Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng at the inaugural Greater Bay Maritime Forum (Nov 1). She also pointed out that maritime arbitration is Hong Kong’s core strength in the arbitration field. Also addressing the forum, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Hong Kong plays a crucial role to develop the GBA into a world-class port cluster, adding that the city will seek to seize the massive opportunities ahead, including those arising from the GBA, the 14th Five-Year Plan and the dual-circulation development strategy.
StartmeupHK Festival to return in May 2022
Asia’s leading annual start-up event, StarmeupHK Festival, will return in a hybrid format next year (May 23 – 28, 2022). The festival will offer start-ups, investors, corporates, academia and governments worldwide the chance to explore new opportunities in Asia and in Hong Kong. Despite the ongoing economic challenges of the global pandemic, the overall number of startups in Hong Kong reached a record high of 3,755, up 12% over 2020, according to the latest Invest Hong Kong survey. Accessibility to international or regional markets, the simple tax system and low tax rate, business opportunities in the Mainland, and access to funding were the key factors driving startups to set up in the city. The number of startups in Hong Kong is expected to grow as the digitalization trend continues to accelerate and broaden due to the pandemic.
Fintech advancement promoted
Noting that the global trend of fintech adoption for financial services, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui said (Nov 1) the HKSAR Government has put in place enabling measures to facilitate the incubation process of fintech products, along with incentives to encourage the fintech sector to more proactively come up with practical and innovative fintech initiatives. Speaking at the Cyberport FinTech Innovation Conference, Mr Hui said the allocated total grant of US$1.2 million has been given to 93 approved projects, under the Proof-of-Concept Scheme, to provide practical and innovative solutions,ranging from wealthtech, regtech, insurtech and payment systems to cross-boundary data analysis, remittances and other areas.
German-based ice-cream manufacturer sets up regional headquarters
German-based ice-cream manufacturer Martosca opened (Oct 27) its regional headquarters in Hong Kong, leveraging the city’s strategic location to bring its organic premium ice-cream and fruit sorbet brands to the region Its director of sales for Asia Pacific Oliver Matthee said Hong Kong is not only the business center of Asia Pacific markets, but also an international hub with favorable conditions to set up a company. “It is easy, efficient and transparent to do business here,” he said.
Conversation with Financial Secretary on latest opportunities in Hong Kong
Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Paul Chan will join a conversation with USCBC president Ambassador Craig Allen and speak on Hong Kong’s positioning, priorities, and prospects as the world’s premier International Financial Centre. Also joining the discussion, to be held on Nov 16, between 7:45 PM – 8:45 PM (EST), are the 2021 Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong Jessica Bartlett and Head of China Research at the Institute of International Finance Gene Ma. Register now and learn about the latest business opportunities in Hong Kong!
Webinar: Opportunities for US healthtechs in Asia
What are the latest healthcare trends, developments and opportunities in Mainland China and Hong Kong? How important is the Asia market and what does the future look like? Join a panel of experts from the US and Hong Kong at a webinar on Nov 4, between 7 PM – 8 PM (EDT), to learn more about the proven strategies and available resources for US companies in the dynamic healthcare sector. Register here.
Striving for carbon neutrality
About 60 partners from the private sector pledged (Oct 29) support for Hong Kong’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality before 2050. “Carbon Neutrality” partners are encouraged to set their targets and timetables to support renewable energy development, energy saving and green buildings, green transport popularization, waste reduction and more. The HKSAR Government has also set the target to improve the energy performance of overall government building and infrastructure by 6% within five years. 
  • In September, the values of Hong Kong’s total exports and imports of goods both recorded year-on-year increases, at 16.5% and 23.5% respectively. The value of total exports of goods reached US$56.6 billion while the value of imports of goods rose to US$62 billion, resulting in a visible trade deficit of US$5.4 billion.

  • The HKSAR Government recorded a US$14.8 billion deficit for the six months ending Sep 30. Expenditure for the period was US$40.5 billion and revenue was US$25.6 billion. Fiscal reserves stood at US$104.1 billion as at the end of September.

  • Total assets of the Exchange Fund amounted to US$581.1 billion as at Sep 30. Hong Kong dollar assets decreased by US$10 billion and foreign currency assets decreased by US$5.8 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: Does the Hong Kong National Security Law affect “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and the high degree of autonomy?
A: Enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Law will not affect “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and the high degree of autonomy under “one country, two systems.” “One country”. is the basis for practicing “two systems”. As national security always falls within the purview of the Central Authorities, our country has the right to legislate for the matter under the “one country, two systems” principle. Direct enactment by our country not only brings no change to the fundamental principles regarding the HKSAR but also strengthens the “one country, two systems” principle. The capitalist system practiced in Hong Kong, the high degree of autonomy, as well as the legal system of the HKSAR will not be affected. The executive, legislative, independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, will also remain unaffected. 

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