Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Toronto) (HKETO), Ms Emily Mo, joined the “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong in the New Normal” webinar hosted by the Hong Kong-Canada Business Association (Greater Toronto Area Section) (HKCBA) as a panellist on May 28.
Ms Mo first updated participants on the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong. “While the disease has infected over 5.6 million people worldwide, in the very densely populated Hong Kong, it recorded only a total of 1,066 cases so far,” Ms Mo said. “Unlike many other cities, Hong Kong did not adopt a complete lock-down approach and most of the restaurants and commercial outlets are in operation with anti-pandemic measures. In early May, businesses re-opened with social distancing measures. Further opening up of the city is being planned, including the gradual resumption of airport transit services in Hong Kong with effect from June 1,” Ms Mo continued.
Ms Mo pointed out that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has deployed a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach to contain the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining Hong Kong’s position as an international city. The measures adopted included early screening at ports, a robust health care system, extended school closures and society-wide adoption of face masks and personal hygiene practices.
Noting the HKSAR Government is currently distributing free reusable facemasks (CuMask+) to all citizens, Ms Mo highlighted that the mask is a local invention developed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel, and its design was awarded a Gold Medal at the International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva 2018.
On the business front, the HKSAR Government has launched a package of measures which costs over CAD48 billion to preserve the vitality of the economy. Measures included wage subsidies to employer and self-employed persons, labour skills upgrading grants,; subsidies for enterprises to apply technology, and one-off grants and low-interest loans, etc.. “Canadian companies registered in Hong Kong can receive the same level of support as their local counterparts,” Ms Mo said.
Though COVID-19 has imposed pressure on economies and financial markets worldwide, Hong Kong’s fundamental strengths remain intact. Examples include its world-class financial and common law systems, free economy, low and simple tax system, as well as easy access to the Asian and Mainland Chinese markets.
Ms Mo highlighted that Hong Kong’s resilience and innovation have been helping the city to withstand the COVID-19 challenges and mitigate risks brought by the pandemic. “The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has developed a new geo-fencing technology specifically for individuals under home quarantine. The Hong Kong International Airport is the world’s first airport featuring full-body disinfection channels, which rapidly zap viruses and bacteria on people passing through. The MTR deploys robots for disinfection of the trains which is a great way to protect its staff and passengers,” Ms Mo said.
Before closing, Ms Mo encouraged Canadian companies to get prepared to expand their businesses to Asia through Hong Kong, and to contact HKETO which offers free consultancy service and tailor-made advice to companies that are interested to set foot in the city.
The webinar, moderated by HKCBA Board Director Mr Zoheir Hasanbhai, was also joined by other speakers including HKCBA National Chair, Mr Arthur Chan, Vice President of C4P Inc., Ms Jenny Lo, and Director (Canada) of Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Mr Andrew Yui.