Dr Charles YEUNG (Chairman of the 48th, 49th terms of office) October 2016
As long as our people put aside all their prejudices and shift their focus back to economic development and improvement of people’s livelihood to make more practical efforts for Hong Kong’s long-term economic and social development, Hong Kong will still have a promising future.
The new term of the Legislative Council (LegCo) will officially begin this month, with many new faces coming into the fold. We look forward to the new term of the LegCo taking on a new approach by adopting a rational and pragmatic attitude to communicate with the HKSAR Government in order to join hands in response to the challenges brought about by external uncertainties. Also, we hope that the LegCo can make more practical efforts in promoting economic and livelihood development, actively reinforcing Hong Kong’s competitive strengths, and capturing the opportunities arising from the country’s development in order to inject new impetus into Hong Kong’s economy.
Filibustering is hindering Hong Kong’s economy
As many disagreements have arisen over various issues in Hong Kong recently, the Chamber is concerned about the negative impact on our social stability, economy, people’s livelihood and business environment. At the same time, the filibustering of some LegCo members has caused the stalling of several major projects, which has not only affected the livelihood of workers in the construction industry, but also other related industries such as retailing, real estate and professional services. In addition, many projects involving people’s livelihood and youth development are not making any progress.
So far this year, Hong Kong’s economy has been inevitably affected by the increasing downward pressure on the global economy and the fluctuations of financial markets and interest rates. In the first half of this year, Hong Kong’s economy recorded only 1.2% growth in real terms, significantly slower than that in the same period of 2015, as the prospect of an economic slowdown began to emerge. Furthermore, the persistent weak performance of exports, tourism and retail spending had added more pressure on business operations and the job market. Global rating agency Moody’s pointed out earlier that if filibustering continues in the LegCo, Hong Kong’s credit rating may be affected. This indicates that filibustering has aroused the concern of the international community, and the resultant negative impact on Hong Kong’s economy and investment environment indeed cannot be ignored.
Strengthening Hong Kong’s competitive advantages
While Hong Kong’s economy is faced with many challenges, there are also huge opportunities. Particularly, the country’s “13th Five-Year” Plan and “Belt and Road” initiative are providing strong support for Hong Kong’s economic development. The key is whether members of our society can stand united in order to actively consolidate and capitalise on Hong Kong’s strengths to capture the new opportunities arising from the country’s development.
In our view, deepening interaction between Hong Kong and the neighboring areas is an important factor for promoting sustained economic progress. For example, as Hong Kong’s financial industries have a considerable competitive edge globally, they should be able to provide appropriate support services such as financing arrangements, financial advisory and asset management for infrastructure projects along the “Belt and Road”. In response to market needs, the HKSAR Government can consider further improving its financial policies and related measures to encourage the industries to develop more RMB-denominated financial products and bonds. It can also promote stronger ties between the industries and government departments such as the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office, working together to provide an effective platform for Hong Kong’s enterprises to specifically participate in the “Belt and Road” initiative.
In addition, Hong Kong and Guangdong province signed several cooperation agreements on areas such as trade, tourism, environmental protection, health care, innovation & technology and youth exchange at the meeting of the Hong Kong-Guangdong Cooperation Joint Conference held last month. We look forward to Hong Kong’s trades and professions actively supporting the implementation of the relevant agreements, and create more new business opportunities for each other’s industries by deepening cooperation between Hong Kong and Guangdong on professional services through platforms such as the Guangdong FTZ.
It is indeed essential to have the infrastructure in place in order to strengthen Hong Kong’s external economic and trade relations as well as its competitiveness. We hope that all stakeholders in our society could more comprehensively consider the long-term economic benefits when discussing projects such as the three-runway system for the airport and the cross-border transport infrastructure, and provide greater support and facilitation for their development.
Standing united for development
In summary, Hong Kong’s economic success today depends on the perseverance across all sectors of our society. We sincerely hope that the HKSAR Government, the business community, the public and the entire LegCo can strengthen communication on important issues relating to people’s livelihood and economic development to ensure the timely adoption and early implementation of policy measures that are favourable to Hong Kong’s long-term development.
We believe that as long as our people put aside all their prejudices and shift their focus back to economic development and improvement of people’s livelihood to make more practical efforts for Hong Kong’s long-term economic and social development, Hong Kong will still have a promising future.