The Hong Kong Investment Funds Association called on Hong Kong’s government Monday to urgently provide a clear road map for exiting the special administrative region’s relatively tough COVID-19 lockdown measures or risk Hong Kong losing business to competing financial centers.
An HKIFA news release said with quarantine requirements remaining in place for travelers to Hong Kong even as quarantine-free travel becomes the world’s new baseline standard, “if we fail on this, we will increasingly be marginalized and be put in an uncompetitive position.”
“As more and more markets are moving back to normalcy, the gap between Hong Kong and the rest of the world is yawning,” with money managers relocating staff and resources to financial centers such as Singapore where they can come and go freely.
HKIFA CEO Chi Ming (Sally) Wong said in an email that discussions with members have suggested that relocations of professionals, especially those with regional or global roles, have been common, with a pickup in temporary moves in the past few months.
“Our concern is that if we don’t act fast, or at least come up with a road map, these temporary relocations will become permanent,” she said. HKIFA doesn’t have any official tally of how many financial professionals have relocated, she said.
Monday’s news release said once such relocations take root, “it would be very difficult to dial back.”
“We need to have a clear exit strategy and detailed road map as to how Hong Kong can be reconnected with the rest of the world on an unconstrained and unfettered basis,” the news release said.
The HKIFA announcement came on a day when news reports said lockdowns on the mainland that have largely shut down the country’s business capital of Shanghai, a metropolis of 26 million people, have begun spreading to its political capital, Beijing.
That news helped spawn a sell-off of Chinese stocks in Asian trading Monday. On a day when most markets in the region were off 1% or 2%, the mainland’s Shenzhen stock market composite slumped 6.5%, the Shanghai stock market composite dropped 5.1% and the Hang Sang index sank 3.7%.
HKIFA's website lists 56 full and overseas members, 20 affiliate members and 29 associate members.