Government and Business Leaders Discuss Ways to Hone Hong Kong’s Competitiveness in a New Era

Top Government officials and leading business minds converged on the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce’s Business Summit on 10 May to discuss how Hong Kong, as an international financial and business centre,

can adapt amidst the changing geopolitical environment, and reinvent its traditional pillar industries to serve as new engines of economic growth.

Chamber Chairman Betty Yuen kicked off the Summit, under the theme “Hong Kong – A New Era,” while keynote speakers HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee and Financial Secretary Paul Chan spoke on revitalizing Hong Kong’s economy. They touched on how the city could foster high-quality growth through innovation and digitalization.

The Chief Executive told the full-house in his Keynote Luncheon Address that “Hong Kong always bounces back – and we mean business!” He emphasised that Hong Kong looks to be in good shape with our GDP increasing by 2.7% in real terms in the first quarter of 2023 from a year earlier, while retail sales surged 24% and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.1%. Lee also underlined President Xi Jinping’s emphasis on the success of Hong Kong and Macao as being crucial to China’s overall development and progress.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan said that the city has to catch up with digitization even as it chases growth through new economic drivers. He also said we need to explore how we can enhance Hong Kong’s status as a competitive international hub while striving to stay ahead of the competition in areas such as green tech, green finance and Web3.

Enhancing Hong Kong’s Role as a Financial Hub
A high-powered panel of speakers on the first panel discussion spoke on “Hong Kong’s Future as an International Business and Financial Hub.” Speakers Eddie Yue, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority; Julia Leung, Chief Executive Officer, Securities and Futures Commission; Peter Wong, Chairman, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited; and Jack Chan, Chairman, EY China, and Regional Managing Partner, EY Greater China; shared their insights on the impact of the subject.

Yue discussed the banking sector’s regulatory framework to safeguard Hong Kong’s financial system, especially in view of recent banking issues in Europe and the U.S. He discussed how Hong Kong could future-proof its role as an IFC. Leung highlighted that building more Connect Schemes, scaling them up and including more RMB and other products would be the way forward. She also stressed the importance of staying at the forefront in sustainable finance and virtual asset innovation. Wong highlighted the many opportunities the Greater Bay Area holds and shared his insights on the future of RMB internalization amid geopolitical issues. Chan talked about the implications of China’s revamped financial regulatory framework following the Two Sessions 2023 and how China is poised to play a greater role in regional finance.

New economic drivers
The summit’s second panel, titled “Traditional and New Drivers of Hong Kong’s Economy,” saw Betty Fung, Chief Executive Officer, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority; YK Pang, Deputy Managing Director and Chairman of Hong Kong, Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited; Anthony Wu, Non-executive Director, China Resources Medical Holdings; and Heiwai Tang, Director, Asia Global Institute, HKU; discuss the potential of various new drivers of the economy while transforming existing economic pillars.

With art, culture and the creative fields developing rapidly in Hong Kong, Fung shared the vision behind West Kowloon Cultural District and its role in helping grow the city’s creative industries. She also outlined the potential of the culture and creative industries, in collaboration with the tourism industry and other sectors, to promote Hong Kong’s soft power. Pang said the existing operations of the tourism industry need a transformation to offer more quality, comprehensive experience for incoming tourists, and added that promoting Hong Kong was also important to bring back tourists. Anthony Wu pointed out the city’s potential as a centre for medical innovation, and the need to establish a platform or body to help register locally developed medicines and products. Heiwai Tang pointed out the need to develop digital trade and focus more on offshore trade business, but overall was optimistic about the development of Hong Kong.

Sponsor companies
The Chamber would like to thank the 15 HKGCC companies who sponsored the summit, namely: Platinum Sponsors: CLP Holdings Limited; Jardine Matheson Limited; and Sino Group. And Gold Sponsors: Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited; Chevalier Group; CK Group; Ernst & Young Group Limited; The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited; Mayer Brown; MTR Corporation; NWS Holdings Limited; Sun Hung Kai Properties; Swire Pacific Limited; Wheelock and Company Limited; and Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium Limited.