January 1 - 17, 2019

FINANCE

Hong Kong embraces free trade: FS

Hong Kong has remained open and inclusive, supporting free and multilateral trade,  said Financial Secretary Paul Chan at the Asian Financial Forum (Jan 14). He also reiterated Hong Kong’s commitment to enhancing its regulatory regime and maximizing its role in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The annual forum saw over 3,000 business leaders and financial regulators from 40 countries and regions attending this year.

Cross-border fintech collaboration brings synergy

Financial regulators from 18 jurisdictions took part in a high-level fintech roundtable facilitated by Hong Kong Monetary Authority (Jan 9). The attendees focused on strengthening cross-border fintech collaboration to bring more convenience and efficiency while creating an ecosystem conducive to fintech innovation.

LEGAL

Independent judiciary integral to rule of law: Chief Justice

Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma has stressed the importance of an independent judiciary at the ceremonial opening of the 2019 Legal Year (Jan 14).  Free from any outside interference, judges’ only mission is to uphold the rule of law, said Justice Ma. Speaking at the same event, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng highlighted the importance of common law to Hong Kong, adding that any unwarranted misunderstanding and malicious attacks on judges should not be tolerated.

Hong Kong and Japan sign MOU on arbitration

Hong Kong and Japan have signed an MOU to strengthen cooperation on international arbitration and mediation (Jan 9). The pact laid down the framework to strengthen communication and cooperation and to facilitate the development of related professional services. The Department of Justice has set up an office to enhance the co-ordination of mediation and arbitration works, taking into account the need for Hong Kong to capitalize on the opportunities offered by the Belt & Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area.

Tributes for legal pioneer Dr Patrick Yu

Hong Kong’s legal community mourned the passing of Dr Patrick Yu, 96 (Jan 16), the first Chinese person to be appointed Crown Counsel in the city (in 1951). Offering her condolences, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said Dr Yu, who helped set up the first law school in the University of Hong Kong, was one of the city’s most distinguished, reputable and well-respected advocates. Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma also expressed sadness, saying that Dr Yu was an inspiration for the judges and legal wigs and he represented the ultimate aspiration as to the qualities required in the law.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Global top institutions join forces to tackle neurodegenerative diseases

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, together with Harvard Medical School, Stanford University School of Medicine and University College London, will jointly set up the first Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Hong Kong soon. The center in the Science Park will form part of the healthcare research cluster in the city’s impetus to develop into an I&T hub. Chief Executive Carrie Lam believed this top-notch research consortium would lead to significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and create new opportunities for Hong Kong scientists and researchers.

Annual StartmeupHK Festival Jan 21-25

Entrepreneurs, investors, and industry leaders from around the world will convene at Invest Hong Kong’s annual StartmeupHK Festival from Jan 21 to discuss new trends and cutting-edge innovation in AI, healthtech, lifestyle and retail technology, smart city, and co-innovation between start-ups and corporations. Hong Kong’s vibrant start-up ecosystem grew 18% year-on-year to 2,625 in 2018, creating 9,548 jobs, a two-fold increase year-on-year More than a third of the start-up founders were from outside Hong Kong.

Welcoming Heidelberg laureates in Hong Kong

Welcoming five distinguished laureates in computing science and mathematics (Jan 17), Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she looked forward to cooperation with the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation and hoped to see more of Hong Kong’s young mathematicians and computational scientists take part in the upcoming forum in Germany.

BUSINESS

Minimum wage on course to rise on May 1

Hong Kong is set to raise the minimum wage from HK$34.5 (US$4.4) per hour to HK$37.5 (US$4.8) on May 1, which coincides with the city’s Labor Day, pending legislators’ approval. Since the statutory minimum wage was fixed in May 2011, the earnings of low-income employees have continued to improve and the employment market has remained largely stable, said Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong.

Paternity leave increases to 5 days

New fathers in Hong Kong can enjoy more paid time off with their newborns come Jan 18, when paternity leave entitlement is extended to 5 days, from 3 under current laws for male employees. If the employee fails to give the advance notice, he must notify the employer of his dates of paternity leave at least five days before taking leave.

INFRASTRUCTURE

First tunnel air purification system to start operation

Hong Kong’s first tunnel’s air purification system, and one of the world’s largest, will start operation when the Central-Wan Chai Bypass and Island Eastern Corridor Link opens to traffic (Jan 20). It will effectively remove at least 80% of the respirable suspended particulates and nitrogen dioxide. The new 2.8-mile long highway, which includes a 2.3-mile-long tunnel, is expected to greatly ease traffic flow in the northern part of Hong Kong Island.

ARTS & CULTURE

HKETONY launches Arts Activators Fellowship program

Ian Leung, program manager at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, and Alice Wong, executive director of Soundpocket, who are the recipients of the inaugural Yale-China Arts Activators Fellowship, have arrived in New Haven to start their 6-month residency program at Yale University. The fellowship program, sponsored by HKETONY and administered by Yale China Association, aims to develop the professional skills and experiences of emerging leaders from Hong Kong’s arts and culture sector.

LOGISTICS

Cargo clearance network expanded

The number of customs clearance points under the Single E-lock Scheme in Guangdong has increased to 51 from 32. This expansion enhances cargo clearance efficiency and benefits cargo shipments that are transshipped through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which opened October 2018. First introduced in March 2016, it uses a single electronic lock and GPS technology to monitor the security of transshipment cargo, streamlining the clearance process and expediting cargo flow.

FASHION

Local designers showcase works at Hong Kong Fashion Week

Some 1,400 exhibitors from 11 countries and regions took part in the 50th edition of Hong Kong Fashion Week for Fall/ Winter (Jan 14-17). The year’s Fashion Week, which attracted nearly 13,000 buyers from 78 countries and regions, also featured works of six local designers through theatrical storytelling instead of the conventional runway parades.

NYETO EVENT

Courtesy call on new Chinese Consul General

Director of HKETONY Joanne Chu has called on the Chinese Consul General in New York Huang Ping (Jan 15) who has recently assumed office in November 2018. The latter got an update on the city’s infrastructure projects as well as the office’s efforts in promoting to US businesses the opportunities in Hong Kong under the Belt & Road Initiative. Regional Director (Americas) of HKTDC Ralph Chow also joined the meeting.

ECONOMY

Key indicators

Jobless rate stayed put at 2.8% in Oct – Dec 2018, compared to the preceding three months (Sep – Nov).

Merchandise trade volume in Nov 2018 fell 2.9% year-on-year.

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 Hong Kong still an easy place to visit for tourists or international business people?

A: Yes, very much so. Hong Kong has autonomy in immigration control. It maintains its own immigration laws and procedures and has a very liberal visa policy. As of October 2018, 163 countries or territories have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to HKSAR passport holders. (BL Articles 154; 155)

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Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York

115 East 54 Street 10022 New York US