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JANUARY 17 - 22, 2024

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Financial Secretary concludes trip to Davos

Financial Secretary Paul Chan said global business and political leaders he met at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting (Jan 15 – 19) in Davos, Switzerland, were interested in the latest developments and opportunities in Hong Kong. They were also keen on learning more about opportunities in Mainland China and Hong Kong as China and Asia remains key in their global investment plans.


Mr Chan, accompanied by Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Algernon Yau, concluded the final day (Jan 19) of his visit at the WEF by meeting World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, briefing her on Hong Kong’s latest economic and trade situation and thanking the WTO for reaffirming the free trade regime of Hong Kong and its position as one of the world’s most important international trade and financial hubs in its Trade Policy Review conducted at the end of last year.


At a meeting with World Bank Group President Ajay Banga, Mr Chan exchanged views on enhancing investment and financing for green and sustainable projects, promoting digitalisation in the region, enhancing collaboration among countries in the South, and promoting a more inclusive development of the regional and global economy. He also met WEF Founder & Executive Chairman Prof Klaus Schwab and briefed him on Hong Kong’s latest economic and social developments.


Other political and business leaders whom Mr Chan had meetings with in Davos include Bahrain’s Minister of Finance & National Economy Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and its Minister of Industry & Commerce Abdulla Adel Fakhro, Qatar’s Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari and Kazakhstan’s Minister of National Economy Alibek Kuantyrov, Minister of Economy & Finance of Italy Giancarlo Giorgetti and Governor of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru Julio Velarde Flores.


At the Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders, Mr Chan and other participating leaders discussed the challenges posed by economic fracture and how to rebuild a more mutually beneficial and inclusive global economy.


In addition to meetings, Mr Chan also took part in various thematic discussion sessions, including one on Hong Kong’s experience in urban renewal and public housing development, as well as the city’s infrastructure-driven development strategy. When delivering a keynote speech at a Jan 18 lunch event, he said through leveraging the unique advantages of “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong is striving to enhance its position as an international financial centre, and acts as a bridge between the Mainland and the world to forge win-win co-operation.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development meets trade ministers

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau, met with trade ministers of other economies to foster closer economic ties and deepen regional co-operation in Davos, Switzerland (Jan 18). He also took part in the World Trade Organization (WTO) informal ministerial working dinner, and had candid exchanges with participating ministers on how to develop a realistic and balanced package for the upcoming WTO 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi. He also shared his insights about the importance of the extension of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission, the restoration of a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement reform, the early implementation of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, etc.


During his stay in Davos, Mr Yao met the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Bahrain Abdulla Adel Fakhro, and exchanged views on issues of mutual concern. Mr Yau said Bahraini enterprises can capitalise on Hong Kong’s unique advantages under “one country, two systems” and its role as a premier gateway to tap into the Mainland market. In addition, Hong Kong is in active negotiation with Bahrain on an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, with a view to enhance the confidence of investors and expanding investment flow between Hong Kong and Bahrain. 


2024 legal year opens

Addressing the Ceremonial Opening of the Legal Year 2024 (Jan 22), Chief Justice Andrew Cheung cautioned that the work of the Judiciary in the past few years has often been viewed through the prism of the National Security Law and this has tended to result in a narrow or even distorted picture of judicial work, and more generally of the state of the rule of law and judicial independence in Hong Kong. He stressed that Hong Kong’s courts and judges will continue to discharge their constitutional duty to administer justice fairly and efficiently, without fear or favour, self-interest or deceit. He also pointed out the importance of recruiting and retaining the best legal and judicial talent to ensure the successful continuation of the common law system in Hong Kong. Also speaking at the event, Secretary for Justice Paul Lam emphasised that there is no evidence that the Judiciary’s independent judicial power has been compromised in cases involving national security. “All court hearings relating to national security are, generally speaking, held openly,” he said. “More importantly, all decisions and judgments made by the court in this respect are publicised on the Judiciary’s website, which is accessible for free,” he said.


APEC energy meeting held in Hong Kong

Over 40 experts and delegates from nine Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies as well as two international organisations gathered in Hong Kong for the 35th Meeting of the Expert Group on Energy Data & Analysis (EGEDA35) of the APEC (Jan 18-19). Discussion topics included updates of the work of the EGEDA on annual data collection, an overview of energy supply and demand in APEC, the progress of APEC goals and data collection of new energy technologies. Secretary for Environment & Ecology Tse Chin-wan noted in his opening remarks that Hong Kong is striving to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050 and pursue a 50% carbon emissions reduction before 2035 from the 2005 level. He also encouraged the use of energy data analyses and modelling tools to provide insightful information on energy trends in driving transition towards a sustainable future.


Hong Kong Marathon returns with 74,000 runners

The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon (Jan 21) returned to pre-pandemic scale with some 74,000 runners. Kenya’s Anderson Seroi won the full marathon, crossing the finish line in a time of 2:12:50 while Ethiopia’s Medina Armino won the women’s event in 2:28:47. The event doubled up as the Asian Marathon Championships, the fifth time Hong Kong hosted the event, with India’s Man Singh taking gold in 2:14:19, while Mongolia’s Khishigsaikhan Galbadrakh won the women’s title in 2:33:50.


Inflation at 2.4% in December

Consumer prices increased 2.4% year-on-year in December, a slightly smaller decline than that registered in November. Netting out the effects of the government’s one-off relief measures, the underlying inflation rate was 1.4%, also slightly lower than that seen in November. The smaller increase was mainly due to the decreases in the prices of fresh vegetables as well as the larger drop in electricity charges. Underlying consumer price inflation remained moderate in December. Looking ahead, the overall inflation might stay moderate in the near term and that external price pressures are expected to recede. Domestic business costs could face upward pressures as the economy continues to recover.


Hong Kong and its Basic Law

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. The Basic Law was put into effect on July 1, 1997.

Q: Can Hong Kong conclude and implement agreements with foreign states and regions or international organizations, and participate in international conferences?

A: Yes. Hong Kong plays an active role in the international arena and maintains close contact with its international partners. The HKSAR may under the authorization of the Central People’s Government (CPG) conclude certain agreements with foreign states or regions, or may on its own, using the name “Hong Kong, China”, maintain and develop relations and conclude and implement agreements with foreign states and regions and relevant international organizations in the appropriate fields. Since Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland, the HKSAR Government, authorized by the CPG or on its own, has concluded about 600 bilateral agreements in accordance with the Basic Law, including air services agreements, visa abolition agreements, free trade agreements, and cultural co-operation agreements etc. In addition, the HKSAR may, as members of delegations of the People’s Republic of China, or in such other capacity as may be permitted by the CPG and the international organization or conference concerned, or using the name “Hong Kong, China”, participate in relevant international organizations and conferences. (BL Articles 96; 133; 151; 152; 155)

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