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JANUARY 23 - 29, 2024

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Asian Financial Forum forged closer ties for a shared future

More than 3,600 financial officials, representatives of central banks and regulators, senior executives from international financial and multilateral organisations, financial and business leaders and leading economists from over 50 countries or regions have participated in the 17th Asian Financial Forum (AFF) on January 24-25 25 themed “Multilateral Cooperation for a Shared Tomorrow”. They gathered to shed light on topics and exchange insights on global economic outlook, opportunities in China, philanthropy and impact investing, family office ecosystem, asset and wealth management, fintech innovation, digital assets, and RMB internationalisation.


Chief Executive John Lee addressed the opening session, highlighting that this was the first time the forum was being held entirely in person since 2020. “Under the 'one country, two systems' principle, Hong Kong can create opportunities for companies, and economies, in Asia and around the world. We can, and we will, contribute to realising a bright and shared future for the global community,” he said.


At the keynote luncheon, Financial Secretary Paul Chan shared his views on achieving sustainable development. Noting that free trade and the flow of capital raise the incomes and living standards of billions of people by unleashing immense productivity worldwide, He said Hong Kong is firmly committed to multilateralism, free trade and reducing trade barriers, and is a staunch supporter of the rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization as governing institution.

Bilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia and Croatia signed

During the AFF, Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Christopher Hui chaired two plenary sessions and held bilateral meetings with overseas senior officials and representatives from the European Commission. During the two-day event, Hong Kong and Croatia signing the Comprehensive Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement as well as a memorandum of understanding signed by Hong Kong and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enhance connectivity between the financial markets in the two places.

New measures to boost Mainland-HK financial ties

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) unveiled (Jan 24) six measures to deepen financial co-operation between the Mainland and Hong Kong. They include promoting use of Mainland bonds as eligible collaterals; allowing foreign investors to participate in the Mainland bond repurchase business; promulgating the implementation arrangements of the enhanced Cross-boundary Wealth Management Connect Scheme; introducing facilitative payment arrangements for Hong Kong and Macao residents purchasing properties in the Mainland cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area; expanding the scope of Shenzhen-Hong Kong co-operation on cross-boundary credit referencing pilots; and further expanding the cross-boundary e-CNY pilots in Hong Kong.


Welcoming the announcement, Chief Executive John Lee said the new measures deepen the mutual access between the financial markets of the Mainland and Hong Kong, and better serve international investors’ need for liquidity management of investments in the Mainland bond market. Chief Executive of Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) Eddie Yue said this is a concerted effort of PBoC, HKMA and other relevant financial regulatory authorities on both sides. The measures will strengthen Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre and offshore renminbi business hub, and further facilitate the connection of capital, data and financial markets in the bay area, he added.

Hong Kong’s business opportunities promoted in New York

The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York (HKETONY) and the Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) joined hands to promote business opportunities in Hong Kong at a holiday reception held in New York (Jan 24). The event, hosted by the Hong Kong Association of New York was attended by guests from various sectors, including business, finance, legal and trade. Welcoming guests, the Director of HKETONY Maisie Ho gave the guests an update on the latest economic situation and developments in Hong Kong. “Hong Kong is a city full of opportunities. As an international business hub and premier gateway to Mainland China, Hong Kong is an ideal partner for global enterprise and investment in Asia,” she said. Her points were reiterated by the Head of International Business Development of InvestHK, Alison Tsui, who shared with guests her insights on doing business in Hong Kong, highlighting the city’s unique advantages, its energised startup ecosystems and the latest initiatives on attracting companies and talents. 

At a luncheon (Jan 25) hosted by the China-US Business Alliance in New York, Ms Ho, updated attendees on the latest developments and opportunities in Hong Kong, highlighting the robust bilateral trade relations between Hong Kong and the US. This high-level event featured keynote speakers, including Chief Representative of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in New York, Anson Law, who discussed Hong Kong's pivotal role as a financial hub; and Consul General of the People's Republic of China in New York Ambassador Huang Ping, who shared insights into US-China bilateral economic and trade cooperation opportunities.


Admission schemes attract 90,000 talents in 2023

Around 90,000 talents arrived in Hong Kong in 2023 via various talent admission schemes, far exceeding the government’s annual target of admitting at least 35,000 talents. Of those who arrived, 36,000 were approved applicants of the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS). Secretary for Labour & Welfare Chris Sun said more than 70% of the approved TTPS applicants are aged 40 or below, and almost 80% of the approved applicants have an annual income of US$320,513 or more in the year immediately preceding the date of application, or are graduates from top universities with at least three years of work experience in sectors such as financial services, commerce and trade, innovation and technology and the information and communication technology.


December exports value up by 11%

The value of Hong Kong’s total exports rose to US$49.5 billion in December 2023, up by 11% year-on-year. The value of goods imports rose 11.6% to US$57.2 billion for the same period, resulting in a trade deficit of US$7.7 billion, or 13.4% of the value of imports, recorded for the month. For 2023 as a whole, the value of total exports dropped 7.8% over 2022 and that of imports decreased 5.7%. A trade deficit of US$59.9 billion, or 10.1% of the value of imports, was recorded in the year. Factors including heightened geopolitical tensions and slowing global economic growth will continue to weigh on Hong Kong’s export performance in the near term.

Exchange Fund gains US$27.3 billion

Hong Kong’s Exchange Fund recorded an investment income of US$27.3 billion in 2023, with an investment return of 5.2%. Commenting on the fund's investment results, Chief Executive of the HKMA Eddie Yue said even though the investment environment in 2023 was extremely volatile and challenging, the fund managed to achieve a decent return overall. He pointed out that the fund's investment income from bond holdings set a new record. Looking ahead, global financial markets will continue to face numerous challenges in 2024. He emphasised that markets expect that the interest rate hike cycle is almost over, but the time required for inflation to return to the target levels set by major central banks remains uncertain.


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 foreign enterprises participate fully in Hong Kong’s economy?

A: Yes. Hong Kong welcomes and encourages the participation of foreign enterprises, and provides a level playing field for all. There are no foreign exchange controls in Hong Kong and no restrictions on the trading of gold, securities, futures and the like. The Basic Law stipulates that Hong Kong shall maintain the status of a free port, pursue the policy of free trade and safeguard the free movement of goods, intangible assets and capital. (BL Articles 112; 114; 115)

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