FEB 15 - 22, 2022
Ban on flights from US extended through Apr 20
With the severe local COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong, and to prevent imported cases from placing additional pressure on the city’s healthcare system, the current suspension of incoming passenger flights from the United States and eight other countries (Australia, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom) is now extended through Apr 20. To tackle the fifth wave of COVID infections, the city will implement mandatory universal testing in March, under which all citizens must undergo three rounds of COVID-19 tests at testing centers that will be set up across the city. Current social distancing and containment measures will continue to be enforced to address the infection surge. Meanwhile, there are no plans to impose a citywide lockdown. Due to the Omicron outbreak, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Election, originally scheduled on Mar 27, will be postponed to May 8.
Financial Secretary to present Budget 
Financial Secretary Paul Chan will deliver the 2022-23 Budget to the Legislative Council on Feb 23 at 11 am (Hong Kong time). The full text of the Budget speech and other related materials will be released simultaneously on the Budget website. The live broadcast of the Budget speech and Budget-related press conference can be viewed on the website. Information on the Budget can also be found online.
Additional US$3.46b Anti-epidemic Fund approved
The funding application of US$3.46 billion for the sixth round of the Anti-epidemic Fund (AEF) has been approved by the Legislative Council (Feb 15). The sixth round of the AEF comprises 48 programs that are estimated to benefit 67,000 businesses, operators of 40,000 transport tools, and 750,000 individuals. The latest round of the AEF is modelled on the previous measures while seeking to cover as many as practicable businesses and individuals not benefitted previously, with the same objective of providing targeted support in the simplest and quickest way. Of the funding applied for, over 60% will be directly disbursed to individuals, and a one-off allowance will be offered for the first time to those who are subject to short-term or temporary unemployment.
Government launches retail green bond
Hong Kong will launch the inaugural retail green bond, under the Government Green Bond Programme, for subscription by Hong Kong residents. With the target issue size of US$769 million, the proceeds raised under the program will be credited to the Capital Works Reserve Fund to finance or refinance green projects that provide environmental benefits and support the sustainable development of Hong Kong. The bond will have a tenor of three years. The subscription period will start on Mar 1 and end on Mar 11, with the retail green bond to be issued on Mar 22 and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Mar 23.
License granted to Greater Bay Airlines
The Air Transport Licensing Authority granted a license to the Greater Bay Airlines Company Limited (Greater Bay Airlines) on Feb 21, demonstrating the market has full confidence in the prospect of the aviation industry in Hong Kong. Welcoming the license approval, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government stated that it believes that Greater Bay Airlines will provide more diversified air services to the market and will further strengthen the air transport connectivity between Hong Kong, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and other parts of the world. This will play a positive role in upholding Hong Kong's status as a leading international aviation hub.
Hong Kong Arts Festival celebrates 50th anniversary
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hong Kong Arts Festival will feature a myriad of programs, including world premieres, specially-commissioned productions and exclusive content from around the world. Audience in the United States can enjoy some of these programs online. They include the filmed productions of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt (The Dead City) (Feb 24 - Mar 3) and Shostakovich’s spectacular satirical opera The Nose (Mar 10 - 17), both presented by the eminent Bavarian State Opera. The HKAF will also feature the live stream of three concerts (Mar 4, 9, 12) by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Jakub Hrůša, along with a family concert (Apr 11 - 25). For those looking for audience interaction in the arts, look no further than Belgium's Ontroerend Goed, which will present the live interactive one-on-one experience TM (Feb 26 - Mar 27); while Ireland's Dead Centre returns with an exciting online adaptation of To Be A Machine (Mar 23 - 26).
  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 3.9% for the Nov 2021 – Jan 2022 period, the same as the previous three-month period. The underemployment rate increased to 1.8% during the period.

  • Overall consumer prices rose 1.2% in January year-on-year, less than the 2.4% growth in December. Price increases were seen in transport, clothing and footwear, meals out and takeaway food, durable goods, basic food and miscellaneous services.
  • In Dec 2021, the volume of Hong Kong’s total exports of goods and imports increased by 14.2% and 9.2% respectively, year-on-year. Comparing 2021 with 2020, the volume of HK’s total exports of goods and imports of goods increased by 19.9% and 18.1% respectively.

  • Comparing 2020 with 2019, the value of total exports of services decreased by 35% to US$66.5 billion, and that of total imports of services decreased by 32.8% to US$54.6 billion. An invisible trade surplus at US$11.8 billion, equivalent to 21.7% of the value of total imports of services, was recorded in 2020. 
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: Is Hong Kong a free port and a separate customs territory?
A: The HKSAR is a separate customs territory. The HKSAR, using the name “Hong Kong, China”, is a member in its own right of the World Trade Organization and the World Customs Organization. Ships of all nations enjoy access to the ports of the HKSAR, which is a free port, in accordance with the laws of the Region. Export quotas, tariff preferences and other similar arrangements, which are obtained or made by the HKSAR or which were obtained or made and remain valid, shall be enjoyed exclusively by Hong Kong. (BL Articles 114; 116; 126)

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