January 18 - 25, 2019

BUSINESS RANKINGS

Hong Kong remains world’s freest economy

Hong Kong has been rated the world’s freest economy again. It is the 25th consecutive year that the Heritage Foundation gave the city the top ranking (Jan 25). Singapore and New Zealand came close second and third. In its latest 2019 Index measuring economic freedom of 186 economies, the Heritage Foundation recognized Hong Kong’s economic resilience, high-quality legal framework, low tolerance for corruption, high degree of government transparency, efficient regulatory framework and openness to global commerce. Financial Secretary Paul Chan said that this achievement reaffirmed the Government’s steadfast commitment in upholding the free market principles over the years.

TRADE

Chief Executive meets government and business leaders in Davos

Hong Kong Chief Executive has met with the President of the New York Stock Exchange Stacey Cunningham at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Jan 22), exchanging views on the latest development in the securities industry. Noting that both Hong Kong and New York are international financial centers, with globally ranked stock exchanges in IPO fund-raising, Mrs Lam expressed hope that the two places would enhance exchanges and collaboration. While in Davos, Mrs Lam also met with the President of the National Academy of Medicine of the United States, Dr Victor Dzau. She reiterated HK’s commitment to free trade in WEF meetings (Jan 23).

WTO members urged to clear blockage

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau urged members of the World Trade Organization to clear the blockage to the Appellate Body appointment at the WTO Informal Ministerial Gathering (Jan 25). He cautioned that the dispute settlement mechanism that keeps the multilateral trading system going will stall by the year’s end if new appellate members are not appointed in the coming months. He added that efforts to negotiate new rules on e-commerce, domestic regulations and fisheries subsidies should move forward in parallel.

Hong Kong-Georgia trade pact to be effective next month

The Hong Kong-Georgia Free Trade Agreement will enter into force on Feb 13, giving Hong Kong exporters and service providers the legal certainty of favorable treatment and market access to Georgia, a gateway country in the Caucasus. Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said the agreement would help to pave the way for the business community to tap opportunities under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Robust in carrying out international sanctions

Hong Kong, with its highly vigilant law enforcement agencies, has had a robust system in place to implement sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. In the past five years, the enforcement authorities - Police Force and the Customs & Excise Department investigated 201 and 99 suspected cases of sanctions violations respectively. Acting Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Bernard Chan said Hong Kong has been implementing and strictly enforcing sanctions currently imposed by the UNSC against 14 places and two organizations.

FINANCE

IMF commends Hong Kong's prudent policy frameworks

The International Monetary Fund commended Hong Kong for its robust financial regulation and supervision. Reaffirming its long-standing support for the Linked Exchange Rate System, the IMF also applauded Hong Kong’s continued efforts to maintain its competitiveness and expand its role as a leading financial center, through various initiatives including the Greater Bay Area development.

LEGAL

Hong Kong and Mainland signs legal pact

Hong Kong and the Mainland have signed a legal pact to establish a bilateral legal mechanism with greater clarity and certainty for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. It will take effect after both places have completed the law-making procedures and will apply to judgments made on or after the commencement date.

BUSINESS

Record number of firms invest in Hong Kong

Invest Hong Kong had assisted a record 436 overseas and Mainland companies to set up or expand in Hong Kong in 2018, representing a 8.5% rise year-on-year . Originating from 43 economies, including Mainland China (101), the US (63) and the UK (43), these companies created 5,268 jobs, a 3.3% increase compared to the previous year. Director General of Investment Promotion Stephen Phillips says Hong Kong has continued to attract investors because of its core advantages and emerging business opportunities.

AVIATION

Single-day record for flight movements

The Civil Aviation Department handled 2,342 flights on Jan 18, a new single-day record which showed the strong demand for air traffic. The previous single-day record of 2,341 flight movements was recorded on Aug 24, 2017, after Hong Kong International Airport had just recovered from the impact of super typhoon Hato. The total number of aircraft movements handled by the CAD in 2018 increased by 7.1% year-on-year.

ARTS & CULTURE

Curtain up for Xiqu Centre

The first major performing arts venue of the West Kowloon Cultural District – the Xiqu Centre – has raised its curtain. Marking its opening on Jan 20 was “The Reincarnation of Red Plum”, curated by Dr Pak Suet-sin. Looking forward to the commission of more world-class facilities in the WKCD, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she hoped to see the Xiqu Centre take Cantonese opera and the xiqu art form to the next level and to the global stage

HKETONY arts fellows in Yale

Ian Leung and Alice Wong, both recipients of the HKETONY-Yale arts activators fellowships, have started their residency programs in Yale University this month. Director of HKETONY Joanne Chu welcomed them as well as two other artists from Hong Kong - Nicole Pun and Sarah Xiao, who also embarked on a cultural exchange program, in New Haven on Jan 24. The Yale-China Association, which administered the fellowship programmes, has been collaborating with the HKETONY for the fourth year.

FILM

Budding filmmakers receive funding boost

Three movie directors have been selected to receive funding from the government’s film development fund to make their first commercial feature films. First launched in 2013, the First Feature Film Initiative has been successful in identifying promising young directors and producing a number of quality films.

ECONOMY

Key indicators

• 21% of those surveyed expect their business situation to be worse in 1st quarter of 2019, compared with 4th quarter of 2018.

• The Composite Consumer Price Index climbed 2.5% year-on-year in Dec 2018, following a 2.6% increase in November.

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: Is Chinese the only official language allowed under the Basic Law?

A: No, in addition to Chinese, English is also an official language used by the executive authorities, the legislature and the judiciary of the HKSAR. (BL Article 9)

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