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Financial Secretary


My visit to Davos

Last week, I attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting held in Davos, Switzerland. The Annual Meeting this year received over 3,000 participants from more than 120 countries and regions. During the event, I joined a range of meetings, thematic discussion sessions, luncheons and dinners, and roundtable meetings where I met government heads, financial officials, senior management of international organisations, as well as representatives from the industrial, commercial and professional sectors of different countries. In addition to discussing matters of mutual interest with them, I also briefed them on the latest economic and social conditions of Hong Kong and the new business opportunities offered here.

I joined and spoke at one of the thematic discussion sessions of the WEF Annual Meeting held in Davos, Switzerland last week.

We have achieved our objectives in this trip. First, we told the good stories of Hong Kong and China. The overall trend of China’s long-term growth will not change, and China will stay committed to the fundamental national policy of opening up, and continue to provide a strong impetus to the development of the world economy. On the other hand, with the long-term implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle in Hong Kong, we will play our continued role as an important gateway, bridge and platform connecting our country with the rest of the world. We will step up efforts to promote financial services and innovation and technology (I&T) as the dual engine of Hong Kong’s future growth. At the same time, we will facilitate regional green transformation through harnessing green technology and developing green finance; press ahead with developing emerging fields such as digital assets in an orderly manner; and proactively attract enterprises, investment and talent, so as to drive Hong Kong’s economy towards higher quality development.

Joining me on this trip were the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, representatives from the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, the Airport Authority Hong Kong and the MTR Corporation Limited, as well as a few other members of the Hong Kong Inc. Together we exchanged views extensively with global political and business leaders, and engaged actively in publicity and promotional activities as a collaborative effort to tell the good and true stories of Hong Kong to the world.

Meeting with Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF.
Meeting with Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) during the WEF Annual Meeting.
Meeting with Mr Ajay Banga, President of the World Bank Group.

Second, we have expanded Hong Kong’s circle of friends and established a wider network of contacts, laying good foundations for future in-depth exchanges and co-operation. During this visit, I met with representatives of the political and business communities from various countries, including the Middle East (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar), the Belt and Road countries (e.g. Kazakhstan, Mongolia), as well as Europe and the Americas (e.g. Italy, Peru). I also met with the heads of international organisations, e.g. the President of the World Bank Group and the Director-General of the WTO, to brief them on the latest developments in Hong Kong as it enters a new stage.

Our efforts of inviting visitors to come and reaching out to the world have begun to bear fruits. At this Annual Meeting, quite a number of delegates from the political and business communities proactively contacted and arranged meetings with me and other members of the Hong Kong Inc. They hoped to gain a deeper understanding of the latest developments in the Mainland and Hong Kong, and the opportunities that came with us. Officials and delegates we met generally share the view that China and the developing Asia are the key drivers of global economic growth. They were keen on exploring the markets and developments in the Mainland as well as the entire Asia through Hong Kong, an international platform that connects the Mainland with the rest of the world.

Meeting with Mr Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai, Prime Minister of Mongolia, during the WEF Annual Meeting.
Meeting with Mr Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Minister of Finance of Saudi Arabia, together with the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Mr Algernon Yau.

Third, the trip has paved the way for our work in the future in attracting enterprises and investment, as well as opening up new markets. During the visit, I met with business leaders from major multinational corporations and unicorn companies in the I&T sector, as well as representatives from international financial institutions, investment funds, airlines and logistics copmanies, insurance groups, professional services organisations, fintech firms, etc. I explained to them Hong Kong’s advantages in financial services, professional services and I&T, as well as our first-rate business environment. More importantly, I invited them to come to Hong Kong to see for themselves the development opportunities in the relevant industries. I also encouraged them to invest and establish a presence in the city, and use Hong Kong to grow their business.

The theme of the WEF Annual Meeting 2024 is “Rebuilding Trust”. The complicated global environment at present, coupled with geopolitical tensions, unilateralism, protectionism, etc., has fragmented the world economy and made it more fragile. This has put a drag on global economic growth and made recovery more difficult. As indicated by the Global Risks Report 2024 published by the WEF, most respondents took a negative view of the global economic outlook in the next two years. They also pointed out that economic uncertainties would put tremendous pressure on many economies across the globe, and people in the low and middle income groups would suffer.

Speaking at the “Davos-Caixin CEO Luncheon” during the WEF Annual Meeting.
Receiving an interview with Bloomberg during my visit to Davos.

In light of the challenges ahead, many political and business leaders attending the Annual Meeting agree that countries around the world should strengthen communication and rebuild trust, strive for the return of a rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core, and work together to facilitate free trade and investments. Only by doing so could we achieve better global economic recovery and mutually beneficial, inclusive and sustainable development.

As Premier Li Qiang said in his special address at the Annual Meeting, in the current global environment, countries should cherish and enhance cooperation, and work more closely in the following five areas: macroeconomic policy coordination, international industrial specialisation, technology, green development and North-South and South-South co-operation. His five proposals are in line with the trend of progressive human history, and provide specific and solid options for fostering further global economic recovery in the macro environment currently full of uncertainties.

Given the various external uncertainties, Hong Kong, as a small and fully open economy, will face challenges in the short term. In preparing for the upcoming Budget, we will continue to keep a close watch of the latest developments of our economy, and try our best to roll out appropriate and balanced measures with due regard to our fiscal position. We will endeavor to maintain our economic vitality and strengthen public confidence in the future of our economy.

January 21, 2024

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