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Hong Kong Digest

April 29, 2024

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HKIA retains world’s busiest cargo airport title

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) retains its position as the world’s busiest air cargo hub in 2023. During the year, HKIA handled 4.3 million tonnes of cargo, according to the latest data released by Airports Council International. It is the 13th time since 2010 that HKIA is named the busiest cargo airport in the world. HKIA is expanding into a Three-runway System by the end of 2024, which will gradually increase annual cargo handling capacity to 10 million tonnes by 2035, further enhancing the city’s competitiveness as an international aviation hub.


Expansion in mutual access of capital between Hong Kong and Mainland China announced

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government welcomed the measures announced (Apr 19) by the China Securities Regulatory Commission to further expand mutual access between the capital markets of the Mainland and Hong Kong. The measures include expanding the eligible product scope of equity exchange-traded funds under Stock Connect; including real estate investment trusts under Stock Connect; supporting the inclusion of the renminbi stock trading counter under the Southbound trading of Stock Connect; enhancing the arrangements for mutual recognition of funds; and encouraging leading enterprises of industries in the Mainland to list in Hong Kong.

Asia’s first spot virtual asset ETF to launch in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is preparing to launch Asia’s first spot exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for Bitcoin and Ether on Apr 30. This move places Hong Kong at the forefront of Asia’s financial innovation, closely following the United States, which introduced similar products earlier in January 2024. These ETFs will debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) and are expected to create a new avenue for regulated crypto investments in the region.

Grant Scheme for OFCs and REITs extended to 2027

The HKSAR Government and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) announced (Apr 26) details of the extension of the Grant Scheme for Open-ended Fund Companies (OFCs) and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) to further attract these companies to set up in Hong Kong for three years to 2027. The scheme was launched in 2021 to provide funding support for OFCs set up in or re-domiciled to Hong Kong and REITs listed in Hong Kong to pay for eligible expenses charged by Hong Kong-based professional service providers. Since its introduction, the number of OFCs registered in Hong Kong has increased substantially from 14 in May 2021 to 302 in Mar 2024. Details of the extended Grant Scheme, which will be open for applications from May 10, can be found on the SFC’s website.

HKEX appoints Carlson Tong as chairman

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) appointed (Apr 24) Carlson Tong as Chairman of the Board. He succeeded Laura Cha, who retired from the Board after a six-year term. Mr Tong has served as chairman of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission from 2012 to 2018 and Chairman of the University Grants Committee from 2016 to 2022. He was also the Chairman of KPMG in China and Hong Kong from 2007 to 2011.

Hong Kong set to become a regional IP trading hub

Hong Kong is pursuing a number of initiatives to promote the development of the city into a regional intellectual property (IP) trading center by building its own patent regime, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan at a reception (Apr 26) hosted by the Intellectual Property Department to celebrate World IP Day. These include grooming a talent pool of patent examiners equipped with technological and professional knowledge, planning for regulatory arrangements on local patent agent services, setting up a World Intellectual Property Organization Technology & Innovation Support Centre, implementing the “patent box” tax incentive to encourage commercialization of research and development outcomes. Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Algernon Yau also attended the reception with about 150 guests.

APEC Business Advisory Council meeting held in Hong Kong

Chief Executive John Lee hosted a welcome dinner (Apr 23) for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC) delegates attending the second 2024 ABAC Meeting (Apr 22 – 25) in Hong Kong. Speaking at the dinner, Mr Lee highlighted Hong Kong’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). “We firmly believe in regional economic integration. We believe that co-operation, at every level, is essential if we are to overcome our shared global challenges,” he said, adding that APEC economies are incubators of ideas, promoting inclusive, innovative and sustainable growth for the Asia-Pacific region. Addressing the opening ceremony (Apr 23), Financial Secretary Paul Chan spoke about the areas on which Hong Kong could further work together with ABAC, including to promote international free trade and overcome roadblocks to supply chain and logistics network, to advance regional green transition and transformation, and to drive the growth of the digital economy. More than 200 ABAC members and staffers from APEC’s 21 member economies attended the meeting.


Hong Kong shines at global invention event in Geneva

The Hong Kong delegation to the 49th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva (Apr 17 – 21) won a record high number of more than 350 prizes, including six Special Awards, 28 Gold Medals with Congratulations of the Jury and 114 Gold Medals. Congratulating the delegation, Secretary for Innovation, Technology & Industry Prof Sun Dong said the record-breaking haul of awards is greatly encouraging. It reflected the international recognition of Hong Kong’s research and scientific achievements, but also exemplified the city’s strength in innovation and technology. Hong Kong’s delegation was its largest ever, comprising close to 700 representatives from 40 organizations including universities, research and development centers, research laboratories, technology companies, government departments, and primary and secondary schools.

Hong Kong-Shenzhen I&T park signs 60 strategic pacts

The Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Park signed (Apr 18) memoranda of understandings (MOUs) with some 60 partners from nine economies, marking a significant milestone of the park entering the operational phase. About a quarter of these companies are from overseas, and 24 companies are new to set foot or expand business in Hong Kong. Chief Executive John Lee said Hong Kong’s prowess not only cultivates a versatile workforce, but also attracts talent from around the world. That, in turn, brings a rising tide of strategic companies, entrepreneurs and start-ups turning to Hong Kong for their future. Secretary for Innovation, Technology & Industry Prof Sun Dong said the diverse portfolio of partnership enterprises highlights Hong Kong’s unique advantage as an international city, casting a big vote of confidence in the development of the park as well as the I&T industry in Hong Kong.


Government leads decarbonization drive

As Hong Kong continues to implement its decarbonization strategies as set out in its Climate Action Plan 2050, the city is determined to capitalize on the prowess of its financial sector as it becomes an international green finance center, said Chief Executive John Lee as he laid out the city’s green vision and policy priorities at the Greenway 2024 The Dialogue (Apr 29). Also speaking at the same event, Financial Secretary Paul Chan highlighted Hong Kong’s efforts to pursue sustainable development to build an international green tech and green finance centre. These include bolstering and supporting the ecosystem for green innovative solutions, aligning and adopting international green standards, supporting green transportation and logistics.


CareerConnect Expo set for May

Talent interested in coming to Hong Kong, stakeholders in various sectors who are concerned about talent development, non-local university students and the public are invited to visit the CareerConnect Expo, to be held May 7 – 8 in Hong Kong, concurrently with the Global Talent Summit · Hong Kong. The expo, held in tandem with the summit, will allow international, local and regional strategic enterprises and counterparts to present to participants and global talent the opportunities of Hong Kong and the Mainland in addition to development prospects of various sectors. Hong Kong Talent Engage (HKTE) will stage an exhibition area at the expo to promote Hong Kong’s unique advantages and development opportunities, various talent admission schemes as well as HKTE’s support services, coupled with experience sharing by incoming talent on settling in the city. Visitors may register online in advance.


Remarks by G7 and EU rejected

The HKSAR Government strongly condemned (Apr 20) an unfounded and biased statement by G7 foreign ministers and the High Representative of the European Union (EU). The HKSAR Government reiterated that it is the constitutional duty to safeguard national security. In accordance with international law and international practice based on the Charter of the United Nations, safeguarding national security is an inherent right of all sovereign states. Many common law jurisdictions, including western countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Singapore, have enacted multiple pieces of legislation to safeguard national security. The HKSAR Government also emphasized that the ordinance will not affect normal business operations and normal exchanges involving local institutions, organizations and individuals. It said law-abiding people will not engage in acts and activities endangering national security and will not unwittingly violate the law.

Did you know...

The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). It provides the guarantees to maintain our existing way of life, including socio-economic development, the rights and duties of Hong Kong people, the rule of law and other areas. Article 23 of the BL stipulates that the HKSAR shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organisations or bodies from conducting political activities in the HKSAR, and to prohibit political organisations or bodies of the HKSAR from establishing ties with foreign political organisations or bodies.


Q: Will the Article 23 legislation affect regular exchanges between Hong Kong and foreign countries?

A: Hong Kong is an international city having close contact and communication with other countries, regions and relevant international organizations. These normal interactions are protected by the Basic Law and the local laws of the HKSAR. The Basic Law Article 23 legislation seeks to prevent, suppress and punish acts and activities endangering national security, which are distinctly different from normal external exchanges. Law-abiding people will not unwittingly violate the law.

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