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25 Oct 2021

Hong Kong's Zero-COVID Policy Weakening Financial Hub Status

The Index Today

On Monday, a financial industry group warned that Hong Kong's policy for zero-COVID and strict quarantine requirements for international travelers threatens to weaken the city's status as a financial hub.

Reuters reported on Monday that the Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (ASIFMA) said a survey of members, including some of the world's largest banks and asset managers, showed 48% were contemplating moving staff or functions away from Hong Kong due to operational challenges, which included uncertainty regarding when and how travel and quarantine restrictions will be lifted.

Hong Kong has some of the most strict travel restrictions in the world and is virtually COVID-19 free, however unlike regional rival like Singapore, which is slowly re-opening its borders, the Chinese-ruled city right now has no public plan for opening up to international travelers.

Hong Kong local leaders say that their focus is removing restrictions on travel from Hong Kong to mainland China, which also has strict entry restrictions. Currently, the travelers from Hong Kong to the mainland must still undergo quarantine.

Mark Austen chief executive of ASIFMA wrote in open letter to Hong Kong's financial secretary Paul Chan, "Hong Kong’s status as an (international financial centre) is increasingly at risk along with its long-term economic recovery and competitiveness as a premier place to do business."

Reuters added in the report that the letter made a series of recommendations including publishing "a roadmap for exiting Hong Kong’s ‘zero-case’ based COVID-19 strategy beyond solely the immediate goal of opening borders with China", as well as prioritizing vaccinations.

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