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Financial Secretary


Telling good stories of Hong Kong

I still remember how I took the opportunity to introduce the attractions of Hong Kong as a tourist destination to the locals and visitors in the streets of Davos, Switzerland when I attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in the city early last year. With the epidemic coming to an end and the resumption of convenient travel between Hong Kong and the rest of the world, the number of inbound visitors rebounded gradually and reached a total of some 34 million last year. Our overall economy has improved as compared to the situation early last year. New opportunities and developments are gaining momentum and reaping early results. While attending this year’s WEF Annual Meeting, I will explain to the political, economic and financial leaders from all over the world the latest developments and opportunities in Hong Kong, as well as the Mainland’s economic situation and directions of development, appealing to them to strengthen co-operation and achieve a better economic growth for all.

Attending and speaking at a conference on global investment last week.

In fact, since the fourth quarter of last year, some economic indicators of the Mainland have continued to improve. Industrial production, services production and retail sales, among others, have seen accelerated growth, while fixed asset investment has remained stable. Foreign capital inflows into the China Interbank Bond Market (CIBM) increased by RMB251 billion last November, the second largest monthly increase to date, reflecting the gradual improvement in the investment market sentiment, and that the market is redeploying and waiting for opportunities. The Central Economic Work Conference held last month called for continued efforts to pursue progress while ensuring stability, consolidate stability through progress, and prioritise development before addressing problems. It emphasised counter-cyclical and cross-cyclical adjustments of macro policies, and further solidified the future priorities.

Indeed, Hong Kong's asset market has been under pressure over the past year given the high interest rate environment and a number of unfavourable external factors. However, it is also true that investment opportunities have become more attractive, and capital is looking for investment opportunities. Total deposits in Hong Kong amounted to about HKD$16 trillion, increasing by 4.1% in the first 11 months of last year, of which Hong Kong dollar deposits amounted to HKD$7.6 trillion, an increase of 1.7% from the same period last year. Along with the preliminary figures in December, the projected growth of total deposits for 2023 is estimated to be over 5%. Last year, Southbound trading of Stock Connect brought an inflow of HKD$250 billion to the Hong Kong stock market. The two-way capital flow figures have indicated that there continues to be a net inflow of funds.

In fact, our wealth management business is well-positioned to bring enormous opportunities to Hong Kong’s financial and professional services industry, with relevant industry report (BCG Global Wealth Report 2023) projecting a 7.6% annual growth for our wealth management business from 2022 to 2027. Hong Kong’s professional, reliable and efficient wealth management services, coupled with our efforts to promote the development of the family office business, and the re-launch of the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, etc. over the past year, will provide further impetus to Hong Kong’s asset and wealth management business.

In addition, the development of industries has also accelerated. In recent years, we have actively spurred the development of the innovation and technology industry in Hong Kong, such as artificial intelligence and data science, biomedicine, fintech, green finance and Web 3.0. After years of efforts, their ecosystems have gradually taken shape. Entrepreneurs and scientists are racing hard on the new technology track, hoping to seize the first-mover advantage. With the strong support of our innovation and technology policies and resources, a number of strategic enterprises have gradually settled in Hong Kong, followed by quite some private equity and venture capital funds in search of quality investment opportunities here.

In fact, the rule of thumb in global investment is always about looking for the most worthy investment opportunities. What international investors are concerned with is not past figures but potential growth for the future, which is more crucial to them. Many of those who are familiar with the Hong Kong market agree that the city is one of the most ideal options for investment. At the WEF Annual Meeting this year, I aim to introduce the latest developments and opportunities in Hong Kong and the Mainland to investors who have not visited here for some time.

The theme of the WEF Annual Meeting 2024 is "Rebuilding Trust". There are about 200 countries across the globe, which are at different stages of development with diversified economic situations and social needs. Building an atmosphere of trust is therefore a matter of not only whether various countries could join hands to foster greater global economic growth, but also how people all over the world could benefit from such economic growth in general. This is what fostering economic growth is all about, and why rebuilding trust is so important.

January 14, 2024

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