December 7 - 14, 2018

IMMIGRATION

Only one valid HKSAR passport at any time: CE

Due to lingering doubts despite repeated government statements, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has sought to clarify that Madam Meng held only one valid HKSAR passport at any point in time. “She has been issued a few passports over a period since she has obtained the Hong Kong Permanent Resident status because of the specified circumstances that I have explained,” she said in a routine media briefing before ExCo meeting (Dec 11). The occasion when one may be using both old and new passports will be when the old passport contains a visa which remains valid, despite the cancellation of the old one.

FINANCE

IMF commends Hong Kong’s robust policy frameworks

The International Monetary Fund has commended Hong Kong in its latest assessment (Dec 12), noting that many years of prudent macroeconomic policies have endowed the city with strong buffers to navigate through challenges and ensure continued stability. Welcoming the IMF’s reaffirmation, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the Government would remain vigilant and spare no efforts in boosting economic vibrancy and promoting economic growth. The IMF also reaffirmed its support for the Dollar Link, noting that it has served as an anchor of stability and remained the appropriate exchange rate arrangement for Hong Kong.

New HK$1,000 banknotes issued

Newly minted HK$1,000 banknotes, featuring Hong Kong as an international financial center, has entered circulation. The notes with new designs and enhanced security features are available from the three note-issuing banks in HK - Bank of China, HSBC and Standard Chartered. New HK$500 notes will hit the street on Jan 23 while the HK$100, HK$50 and HK$20 notes will enter circulation between mid-2019 and early 2020. 

TRADE

Further trade liberalization and cooperation

Hong Kong and Mainland China signed an agreement under the Mainland & Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) framework, with further liberalization and facilitation of trade in goods. Starting Jan 1, goods of Hong Kong origin imported into the Mainland will fully enjoy zero tariffs through the enhanced arrangement for rules of origin. The agreement also sets out principles of trade facilitation, simplifying customs procedures, enhancing transparency and strengthening cooperation.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Wider use of AI in public service

Noting that artificial intelligence (AI) has unlocked a whole world of potential opportunities, the government plans to improve public services through AI, said Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Nicholas W Yang, at a  tech summit (Dec 14). Next year, AI and chatbot functions will be introduced to the GovHK portal to facilitate public search and access of e-Government services. A pilot chatbot service at the 1823 call center to handle public enquiries will also be launched. By 2020, a new big data analytics platform will be built to enable real-time data sharing among government departments.

BUSINESS

Magnet for business

Hong Kong has remained a magnet for overseas and Mainland businesses amid a thriving start-up ecosystem, said Director-General of Investment Promotion Stephen Phillips (Dec 12). Companies have increasingly been seizing the opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative and Greater Bay Area development. A latest survey showed that a total of 1,530 companies have regional headquarters in Hong Kong, a robust 8.3% growth y-o-y. The number of startups in the city also grew by 18%. One-third of the founders came from other countries/territories.

Exhibition to mark 40th anniversary of reforms and opening up

The “Development·Shared Prosperity” exhibition marking the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up “traces the remarkable journey of our country and our city, a journey of exploration and collaboration not just in business and finance but also in culture, sports and much more”, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam at its opening at the Hong Kong Museum of History (Dec 11). Speaking at an earlier seminar to celebrate the 40th anniversary, Mrs Lam said Hong Kong will continue to safeguard the “one country, two systems” principle and proactively seek to integrate into the nation’s economic development.

Companies rewarded with innovation awards

Commending 84 Hong Kong enterprises for their pursuit of advanced technology and high-value-added activities at the 2018 Hong Kong Awards for Industries presentation ceremony (Dec 11), Chief Executive Carrie Lam said her government was committed to driving innovation and technology. This included setting up two research clusters (health technology and artificial intelligence) at the Science Park and establishing a “Re-industrialization Funding Scheme” to help manufacturers set up smart production lines. New tax incentives also came into effect in October, with a 300% tax deduction for the first US$256,410 in eligible R&D expenditure.

ENVIRONMENT

Supporting sustainable architecture and design

Hong Kong is committed to improving the built environment through the law, technology and planning for a more liveable, competitive and sustainable city, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the opening of the 34th Passive & Low Energy Architecture Conference, held for the first time in Hong Kong (Dec 10). The city aims to cut carbon intensity by 65% to 70% by 2030 from its 2005 levels and reduce its energy intensity by 40% by 2025. Green bonds would also be issued, to support sustainable development and green finance.

Joint concerted efforts to improve air quality

A total of 153 manufacturing enterprises in Guangdong Province, predominantly run by Hongkongers, were lauded for their efforts to pursue cleaner production as environmental officials of Hong Kong and the province met to discuss and review the environmental protection progress of 2018 in Guangzhou (Dec 7). Both sides will continue to promote the use of cleaner production technologies and offer incentives to reduce pollutant emissions.

EDUCATION

Two US professors receive education awards

US MIT’s Professor Anant Agarwal, who co-founded online learning platform edX, and Northwestern University education research scholar Larry Hedges received the 2018 Yidan Prize, the world’ largest prize in education research (Dec 9). Prof Agarwal was recognized with the Yidan Prize for Education Development for making education more accessible to people globally. Prof Hedges was awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Research for his groundbreaking statistical methods for meta-analysis. Chief Executive Carrie Lam congratulated both winners at a ceremony held in Hong Kong (Dec 9).

Application opens for AsiaGlobal Fellowship at HKU

Mid-career professionals are welcome to apply for the 2019 AsiaGlobal Fellowship program organized by the University of Hong Kong’s Asia Global Institute. The leadership development program offers tuition-free 13-week residential program focusing on global policy issues from Asian perspectives. Fellows will be provided a monthly stipend to cover their personal expenses while in Hong Kong. The application deadline is Jan 31, 2019. More information can be found here.

HKETONY EVENT

Strong Hong Kong-Chicago ties

Hong Kong-Chicago ties have gone from strength to strength, Director of HKETONY Joanne Chu said at a holiday reception (Dec 12). Illinois’ exports to Hong Kong of US$1.4 billion worth of goods last year is an 18% growth year-on-year. Last month, the University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong officially opened. Next summer, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra will make its debut in Millennium Park. About 100 guests, including business and community leaders and students from Hong Kong, attended the event held in conjunction with Hong Kong Business Association of Midwest.

Basic Law

Hong Kong and its Basic Law

The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Put into effect on July 1, 1997, it enshrines within a legal document the important concept of “One Country, Two Systems". 

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

A: Hong Kong continues to play an active role in the international arena and maintains close contact with its international partners. The HKSAR 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. (BL Articles 96; 133; 151; 152; 155)

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Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York

115 East 54 Street 10022 New York US