May 6 - 12, 2019

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Hong Kong enterprises backed amid tariff hike

Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau said (May 10) that export credit insurance enhancement measures will be extended until June 30, 2020 to support Hong Kong enterprises, particularly SMEs, amid the Sino-US trade dispute. More than 1,300 affected small business policyholders have been using the enhanced support measures that were introduced by the Export Credit Insurance Corporation last year. They included an additional free pre-shipment cover, a bigger premium discount and higher credit limits.

Earlier (May 7), Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the overall systemic risks in the local financial markets are manageable despite recent developments in Sino-US trade talks. He noted that Hong Kong’s financial system is in good health, adding that the Government will closely monitor the banking sector and capital markets and ensure there was adequate liquidity.

HK-ASEAN trade pact to take effect June 11

The commitments made under the Free Trade Agreement between Hong Kong and the three Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states (Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand) will come into effect on June 11. Upon implementation, Singapore will commit to binding all its customs duties at zero, while Myanmar and Thailand will progressively eliminate and reduce their customs duties on goods originating from Hong Kong. On trade in services, Hong Kong service providers will enjoy better business opportunities and legal certainty in market access for a comprehensive range of services sectors.

Boundless opportunities for European business

Financial Secretary Paul Chan encouraged European businesses to harness the boundless opportunities in the Greater Bay Area and under the Belt and Road Initiative. Speaking at the Europe Day Reception (May 9), Mr Chan highlighted the strong trade ties between Hong Kong and the EU, with merchandise trade totaling US$86.5 billion, making the EU, as a single entity, the largest trading partner for the city. Hong Kong is also home to more than 2,200 EU companies, with about half of them using the city as their regional headquarters or regional office.

FINANCE

Four more virtual banking licenses issued

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has issued (May 9) four more virtual banking licenses to Ant SME Services, Infinium, Insight Fintech HK and Ping An OneConnect. This brings the total number of issued virtual banking licenses to eight. Chief Executive of HKMA Norman Chan said the launch of virtual banks in Hong Kong is a key component of the Smart Banking Initiatives and will facilitate financial innovation, enhanced customer experience and financial inclusion. The HKMA is working closely with the licensees to prepare for the launch of their business operations in around six to nine months.

Key measures for sustainable banking and green finance

The HKMA has unveiled (May 7) three sets of measures to support and promote Hong Kong’s green finance development. HKMA Chief Executive Norman Chan said that the Hong Kong will collaborate with the industry and other stakeholders to combat climate change risks and deliver on the green finance goals. They include green and sustainable banking; responsible investment, with priority accorded to Green and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments; and setting up a Centre for Green Finance.

NYETO Events

Renewing ties with the First State

In his first duty visit to Delaware (May 6-7), Hong Kong Commissioner Eddie Mak, accompanied by HKETONY Director Joanne Chu, called on Governor John Carney, briefing him on the latest economic developments of Hong Kong and the vast opportunities for Delaware businesses in the Greater Bay Area, amid the city’s innovation and technology push and steadfast IP rights protection. During the meeting with Mayor of Wilmington Michael Purzycki, the Commissioner explored potential cooperation ranging from business and trade to arts and culture. While in Wilmington, Mr Mak also met with the leadership of World Trade Center Delaware, Delaware Prosperity Partnership, and Port of Wilmington.

LAW & ORDER

Government refutes US report

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (May 8) said that amending local extradition laws is to enhance Hong Kong’s capability to deal with fugitives of serious criminal offences and to make the city a better partner in the international fight against crime. It was responding to media enquiries on the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s report on the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. Attaching the utmost importance to Hong Kong’s core values, including the rule of law and judicial independence, the Government explained that the proposed amendments have made reference to the guidelines and model prescribed by the United Nations, and is fully underpinned by human rights protection principles that are prevailing in practicing regimes in many jurisdictions around the world.

Rational and pragmatic discussions urged

The Government (May 11) called on lawmakers to resume rational discussions and peaceful exchanges on the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance with a view to fulfilling their responsibilities. Earlier on, Chief Executive Carrie Lam (May 9) said the best way to alleviate public concern over the proposed fugitive law change is to have a pragmatic discussion on it instead of rejecting the bill. Mrs Lam noted there had been extreme remarks and unnecessary fears over the bill. She added the Government will continue to explain the bill and consider practical measures put forward by legislators and different sectors of society.

At a press conference (May 7), Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and Secretary for Security John Lee reiterated that the proposed fugitive law change, which will maintain all existing human rights and procedural safeguards, is the best option to deal with a Taiwan homicide case involving a Hong Kong suspect and plug existing legal loopholes. Options proposed by the community, including allowing local courts to try Hong Kong suspects for serious crimes committed abroad, were impracticable and would involve fundamental changes to the city's legal system.

HEALTH

Medical internship exemption welcomed

Secretary for Food & Health Sophia Chan welcomed (May 8) the Medical Council of Hong Kong’s decision to exempt the internship arrangement of non-locally trained specialist doctors. This will allow overseas specialists to get a full license without having to complete an internship, as long as they have worked in the public sector or medical schools for three years and have passed a licensing examination. Prof Chan said this will achieve the goal of increasing the manpower of the city’s public system and attract more overseas doctors to come back to work in Hong Kong.

TRAVEL

Applications for next generation travel documents to start

Starting May 14, applications for Next Generation Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Electronic Passport (e-Passport) and Electronic Document of Identity for Visa Purposes (e-Doc/I) will be accepted by the Immigration Department. The new travel documents will be produced in compliance with the standard of the International Civil Aviation Organization, with the holder’s personal data and facial image stored in digital form in the contactless chip embedded in the back cover of the documents, along with enhanced security features.

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 conclude and implement agreements with foreign states and regions or international organizations, and participate in international conferences?

A: Hong Kong plays an active role in the international arena and maintains close contact with its international partners. The HKSAR may under the authorization of the CPG conclude certain agreements with foreign states or regions, or 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. Since Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland, the HKSAR Government, authorized by the CPG, has concluded about 600 bilateral agreements in accordance with the Basic Law, including air services agreements, visa abolition agreements, free trade agreements, and cultural co-operation agreements etc. In addition, the HKSAR may, as members of delegations of the People’s Republic of China, or in such other capacity as may be permitted by the CPG and the international organization or conference concerned, or using the name “Hong Kong, China”, participate in relevant international organizations and conferences. (BL Articles 96; 133; 151; 152; 155)

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