March 25 - 31, 2019

TRADE

Hong Kong, Australia ink trade and investment pacts

Hong Kong-originating goods can enter Australia totally tariff-free via simplified procedures following the signing of a free-trade agreement and an investment agreement between the two places (Mar 26). The accord, signed by Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau and Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism & Investment Simon Birmingham, covers a wide range of areas including trade in goods, trade in services, investment, intellectual property, government procurement and competition. This brings the city’s total number of free trade agreements to eight.

GREATER BAY AREA

Active role in Greater Bay Area

Hong Kong will leverage on its strengths in finance and I&T to seize opportunities arising from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the China Development Forum in Beijing (Mar 25). She pointed out that the Government has taken significant initiatives, including a new listing regime to accommodate pre-revenue biotechnology companies; mutual recognition of funds with the Mainland and overseas countries; virtual banking licenses to support fintech along with bong issuance.

FINANCE

First batch of virtual banking license granted

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has granted virtual banking licenses to Livi VB, SC Digital Solutions and ZhongAn Virtual Finance, effective Mar 27. Chief Executive of HKMA Norman Chan said the introduction of virtual banks is a key pillar supporting the city's entry into the Smart Banking Era and is a major milestone in reinforcing Hong Kong's position as a premier international financial center. According to the regulator, five more applications are in the pipeline.

CIVIL LIBERTIES

Fugitive law revision gazetted

The Fugitive Offenders & Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, submitted to the Legislative Council, has been published in the Gazette (Mar 29). The government reiterated the objective of the Bill is to plug the loopholes in Hong Kong’s overall mechanism in juridical assistance. Speaking to the media (Mar 29), Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said the Government had taken into consideration view from different sectors. The proposal, which fully addressed concerns of the business sector, is practical, feasible and balanced.  A mechanism will be put in place to ensure that extradition requests will be dealt with cautiously. Cases involving death penalty or political criminals will not be considered. Secretary for Security John Lee added that the Bill can help fight organized crime and will benefit business environment (Mar 30).

Strict adherence to the Basic Law

Hong Kong exercises “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy in strict accordance with the Basic Law. Responding to a UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office report, the Government said the “one country, two systems” principle has been fully and successfully implemented in Hong Kong, with human rights and freedom fully protected by the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and other legislation.

NYETO EVENTS

Reinforcing education and business ties

Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York (HKETONY) Joanne Chu met with the Provost of the University of Chicago Daniel Diermeier (Mar 27), updating him the latest development of Hong Kong including the opportunities brought by the Greater Bay Area development, especially to the education sector. They also exchanged views on further collaboration between University of Chicago and Hong Kong higher education institutes.

Earlier in the day at a business breakfast, Ms Chu highlighted the city’s pivotal role as an international financial, trade and logistics hub as well as the city’s status as the regional arbitration and disputes resolution center. She encouraged Chicago businesses to seize the opportunities by making use of Hong Kong's professional services.

Hong Kong films promoted in Chicago

The HKETONY continued its partnership with Asian Pop-Up Cinema to promote Hong Kong cinema and showcase film talents in Chicago, with the organizer presenting the Career Achievement Award to veteran Hong Kong actress Nina Paw (Mar 26). Director of HKETONY Joanne Chu said the Government has continued to support the film industry, allocating an additional US$128 million into the Film Development Fund to spur young talents to shine.

ARTS & CULTURE

Museum of Art to re-open in November

After undergoing an extensive four-year major expansion and renovation, the Hong Kong Museum of Art on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront will reopen in November, with more exhibition space and modern architectural features. Total exhibition area will increase by about 40% with the number of galleries up from seven to 12. The Museum will have a 30-feet-hight gallery in the new annex block, which can display large-sized artworks, along with galleries on the roof. The Museum was first established in 1962, with the mission of preserving the cultural heritage of China and promoting Hong Kong art.

Setting the course to be vibrant arts and culture hub

With the January opening of its first major performing arts venue, the Xiqu Centre, the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) is on course to be one of the world’s most vibrant arts and culture hub. Five venues are scheduled to open over the next five years, setting the stage for the WKCD to be the nexus for artistic collaboration and education for visual and performing arts. Freespace and Art Park will open in June, showcasing experimental art forms. Other highly anticipated projects under construction include the M+ Museum, the Hong Kong Palace Museum and the Lyric Theatre.

TOURISM

New adventures at Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney’s first Marvel attraction based on the “Ant-Man and The Wasp” movie has opened at the Hong Kong Disneyland (Mar 28). This is part of the multi-year expansion plan that will create an Asian hub of exciting Marvel experiences in the theme park. At the opening ceremony, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the theme park has been a major tourist attraction since its 2005 opening, attracting more than 77 million global visitors to date and bringing significant economic benefits and employment opportunities.

World’s best airport immigration service

Hong Kong Immigration Department has been voted the winner of the 2019 Skytrax Best Airport Immigration Service Award, the third time the department has won the award. It last received the awards in 2015 and 2016. To facilitate visitors at Hong Kong International Airport, the Immigration Department introduced the “Smart Departure” service in 2017 for eligible visitors to use face-recognition technology for self-service departure. More than 6.2 million visitors had used this service at the end of 2018.

ECONOMY

Key economic indicators

  • Goods exports and imports down 6.9% and 3.8%, respectively, year-over-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: Are Mainland laws applicable to Hong Kong?

A: Generally speaking, national laws of the Mainland China are not applied in the HKSAR. Article 18(2), (3) and (4) of the Basic Law provide for application of national laws in the HKSAR. Such national laws as applied in the HKSAR shall be listed in Annex III to the Basic Law. Currently, a total of 13 national laws are so listed in Annex III, all of which concern matters outside the limits of the HKSAR's autonomy. They include national laws on the capital, calendar, national anthem, national flag, national day, national emblem, territorial sea and contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, nationality, garrisoning, diplomatic and consular privileges and immunities as well as judicial immunity of assets of foreign central banks. (BL Article 18; Annex III)

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Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York

115 East 54 Street 10022 New York US