The Hong Kong Government has released the First Quarter Economic Report 2020. It advises:
real GDP contracted sharply by 8.9% in the first quarter from the previous year, after declining by 3% in the preceding quarter.
total exports of goods plunged by 9.9% in real terms in the first quarter of 2020 from a year earlier, visibly larger than the 2.5% fall in the preceding quarter.
exports of services plummeted by a record 37.8% year-on-year in real terms in the first quarter, following an already very steep decline of 24.2% in the preceding quarter.
The Hong Kong Government reported a deficit of HK$16.1 billion for April 2020, the first month of the current financial year. Expenditure for the first month was HK$45.5 billion and revenue HK$29.4 billion. The fiscal reserves stood at HK$1.14 trillion as at 30 April 2020.
On 8 April 2020, HKSAR Government announced a HK$137.5 billion (US$17.6 billion) economic relief package to help individuals and industries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board has suggested Hong Kong should form ‘travel bubbles’ with regional neighbours that have similar success in containing the coronavirus pandemic as a way to bring back visitors who stopped travelling due to the health crisis.
This takes the economic relief package to HK$287.5 billion (US$36.85 billion) - about 10% of GDP - the total pledged by the HKSAR Government to help offset the economic fallout from COVID-19.
The Hong Kong Government has further enhanced the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales (BUD Fund) and the SME Export Marketing Fund (EMF). View the Funding Schemes.
The Hong Kong Government will distribute free reusable masks to each HK residents. All holders of a valid HK Identity Card may commence online registration from 6 May until 6 June 2020 and masks will delivered within two weeks of successful registration.
The government will also distribute 30 million single-use face masks to all families starting from the end of June 2020. A packet of 10 face masks will be delivered by local post and no registration is required.
On air movements:
Air freight cargo is constrained due to reduced passenger flights.
However, the combination of repatriation flights through Qantas and Virgin, and new IFAM supported services direct to Hong Kong via Cathay Pacific and Qantas are improving connectivity from Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
The new Singapore Airlines ex-Adelaide services, also supported by IFAM, is allowing South Australian exporters and importers to connect to Hong Kong via Singapore.
On border/people movement:
Hong Kong Port, the fifth busiest in the world, remains operating and fully functional.
All non-Hong Kong residents travelling from overseas by plane, are denied entry to Hong Kong until further notice, including transit.
Non-Hong Kong residents coming from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan will be denied entry if they have been overseas in the last 14 days.
From 8 April 2020, all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport will be mandated to undertake testing for COVID-19, followed by compulsory quarantine.
From 13 April 2020, asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving on flights from the UK, the US and other areas in Europe are required to undertake testing for COVID-19 and wait for test results. If positive, they will be admitted to hospital, while close contacts who travelled with them will be sent to designated quarantine centres. Those who test negative can go home or to a designated place to continue the 14-day compulsory quarantine.
Transit through Hong Kong Airport to and from mainland China has not been allowed in the first phase of opening up from 1 June 2020. Airlines were told of restrictions in meetings with Hong Kong Government officials earlier this week.
As part of HKIA opening up, airlines are utilising existing schedules and have been asked not to add extra flights beyond 29 May so as not to overwhelm transit facilities.
Passengers will be able to transit in Hong Kong as long as their existing flight is still operating. Passengers with stopovers of more than eight hours in Hong Kong will not be permitted to travel, with the AAHK hoping to avoid the risk of contact and transmission of COVID-19 among passengers.
The exemption to the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation was broadened to include:
registered practice units of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (18 May).
enterprises with provision of construction-related professional services in the mainland, (18 May) .
persons engaged in technological R&D cooperation-related activities in the Mainland, Macao or Taiwan (18 May).
The University of Hong Kong - Shenzhen Hospital and Hong Kong enterprises providing medical or dental services in the Mainland (18 May).
Legal dispute resolution service providers (19 May).
Specific categories of persons in respect of logistics, port and/or shipping business activities in the mainland (19 May).
The Hong Kong Tourism Board has reported that arrivals dropped 99% in March 2020. Only 3.49 million people visited the city in Q1 2020 (down 80.9% from same period last year.
The Shenzhen Municipal Government require all cross-boundary goods vehicle drivers who enter Shenzhen via Shenzhen ports to present the ‘iShenzhen’ health certification code and proof of a negative result of a nucleic acid test conducted within the previous seven days to Shenzhen customs officers for examination before entering Shenzhen.
Concurrently, the Zhuhai Municipal Government will require all cross-boundary goods vehicle drivers who enter Zhuhai via Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge to present proof of a negative result of a nucleic acid test conducted within the previous seven days. Drivers must acquire a negative result of a nucleic acid test before entering the Mainland ports.
Tests for the Hong Kong cross-boundary goods vehicle drivers will be centralised at the site of ports and the cost will be HK$350. The HKSAR Government will bear the cost involved.
With effect from 8am on 28 April 2020, travellers entering Shenzhen via Shenzhen ports will be required to stay at a designated quarantine centre for 14 days for medical observation.
With effect from 4 May 2020, the exemption of person or category of persons from compulsory quarantine arrangement under the ‘Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation’ will be broadened.
The revised dates of some trade shows postponed remain unknown. It is recommended that South Australian exporters continue to track relevant event websites or email the event organiser for updated information:
Mines & Money Asia (postponed from April 2020 to TBC).
Vinexpo Hong Kong (postponed until 23 to 25 February 2021).
Hong Kong Medical and Healthcare Fair (postponed from May to 25-28 July 2020).
BioHK 2020 (postponed from Jan to 19-22 August 2020).
Asia Fruit Logistica (relocated to Singapore in September 2020).
As of 20 May 2020 the prohibition of group gatherings with more than eight persons in public places will remain in force for 14 days until June 4.
For scheduled premises which may continue to operate, some adjustments have been made to the conditions currently in force.
From 29 May 2020 karaoke parlours, nightclubs, bathhouses, and party rooms will be allowed to re-open as social distancing measure are relaxed.
From 1 June 2020, all Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s performance venues will reopen.
HKSAR Government’s Anti-epidemic Fund has been announced to boost local consumption and revitalise the economy:
Cash payout of HKD10,000 per HK permanent residents aged 18+.
SMEs in all sectors have access to concessionary low-interest loans and loan guarantees by HKSAR Government (total HKD20 billion).
Aviation industry has received a HKD1 billion package expecting to benefit 400 companies (airlines, aviation support and associated passenger services, airport retail tenants and restaurants, airport staff).
Retail Sector Subsidy Scheme provides one-off subsidy of HKD80,000 for each retail store.
Construction provided HKD50,000 per company and HKD1,500 per worker.