Given the fast and furious pace of life in Hong Kong, the past two decades since the handover feel like they have spun by in a near instant. For a city of its size, Hong Kong packs a heavy economic punch, and its continued success is a tribute to the strength, work ethic and perseverance of its people.
With a prominent stock market and the world’s second largest inflow of FDI, plus its leading role in China’s outbound investment, Hong Kong is home to the regional headquarters of thousands of international companies. More than 750 U.S. firms are here today, a significant jump from 457 in 1997.
Hong Kong thrives because of its unique “One Country, Two Systems” framework and its high degree of autonomy. Its independent judiciary, strong corporate governance, data protection, and free flow of information are what attract people and companies. This framework is Hong Kong’s core strength, and it is vital that it remains in place for Hong Kong to succeed.
In the past two decades, China’s emergence on the global stage has had a huge impact on Hong Kong. China’s accession to the WTO in 2001 dramatically changed the course of global trade and Hong Kong’s role as a gateway city. A thriving China should be good news for Hong Kong.
The rising cost of living, however, is a challenge. Companies think twice before posting foreign executives to Hong Kong, and in many cases it costs more to employ a C-suite executive in Hong Kong than in New York or London. It is a worrying trend which will require a fresh approach to rectify.
Hong Kong’s workforce has an abundance of talent, but it’s selling itself short without preparing its young generation of workers with crucial skills in language, technology and innovative thinking for the role of a super-connector city.
There is no denying of the considerable challenges we are facing, but there is no doubt that Hong Kong’s core strengths, if allowed to thrive, will provide us with a strong momentum for the next two decades ahead.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong