REUTERS

HONG KONG — Hong Kong might not reopen till early 2024 due to its strict coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) insurance policies, which might set off an exodus of international companies and workers and jeopardize the town’s position as a monetary hub, its European Chamber of Commerce stated in a draft report.

The restricted effectiveness of domestically developed vaccines has pressured mainland China to keep up tight restrictions on journey, the chamber stated within the draft, which was reviewed by Reuters however has not been made public.

The European Chamber of Commerce declined to touch upon the report.

The probably state of affairs for Hong Kong can be that it might not reopen till China rolls out its mRNA vaccine throughout its 1.4 billion inhabitants, which might take till late 2023 or early 2024, it stated.

In that case, the chamber stated there was a danger of a “cascade impact” of companies leaving the Asian monetary hub.

“We anticipate an exodus of foreigners, most likely the biggest that Hong Kong has ever seen, and one of many largest in absolute phrases from any metropolis within the area in current historical past,” it stated.

Whereas Hong Kong succeeded in maintaining the virus below management for a lot of 2021, it has change into one of many world’s most remoted locations due to its journey restrictions and intermittent lockdowns which have accelerated a mind drain from the previous British colony.

Hong Kong has seen a surge of infections this month, which authorities have struggled to regulate. Well being authorities reported 107 new instances on Wednesday, the fourth consecutive day of triple digit infections.

Given the state of affairs, multinational companies would more and more relocate China-focused groups to the mainland or shift their Asian regional groups to Singapore or Seoul, the chamber stated.

Hong Kong might lose its enchantment as a global enterprise hub in addition to its potential to contribute to China’s financial system.

The departure of worldwide expertise might additionally undermine the town’s “potential to keep up world class universities,” it stated.

FASTER VACCINES, SHORTER QUARANTINE 

Not like the mainland, Hong Kong is dependent upon enterprise vacationers and imported items.

Its position as one of many world’s principal transhipment and passenger hubs has been curtailed by robust flight restrictions, which imply only a few individuals are allowed to land and hardly anybody is allowed to transit.

In distinction, the rival monetary hub of Singapore has eased its coronavirus curbs together with border controls.

Solely about 70% of individuals in Hong Kong have been double-vaccinated in contrast with 91% of Singapore’s eligible inhabitants.

Most of Hong Kong’s aged individuals haven’t been vaccinated.

The chamber outlined different situations of “common probability” together with the potential for an uncontrolled outbreak within the mainland resulting in Hong Kong sealing its boundary with China and reopening with the remainder of the world.

One other state of affairs was an uncontrolled outbreak in Hong Kong, which might make any further restrictions meaningless. This might trigger as much as 20,000 deaths among the many aged.

The chamber made suggestions to the federal government together with accelerating vaccinations and shortening quarantine from 21 days to 7 to 14 days, which might please the worldwide enterprise group.

International companies ought to assume that Hong Kong would very seemingly be “semi-closed for worldwide journey within the coming 12–36 months.” Expertise, and holding on to it, can be “a valuable commodity,” it stated. — Farah Grasp/Reuters  

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