Any outflows from Hong Kong are temporary: govt

Financial Services Secretary Christopher Hui said on Wednesday that any outflows of professionals or capital from Hong Kong are a “temporary phenomenon”, pointing to increases in bank deposits and non-local companies registered in the city as evidence of the SAR’s attractiveness to businesses and talent.

Hui was responding to a question in Legco from lawmaker Paul Tse, who commented that “the Immigration Department has pointed out that the number of applicants for renunciation of Chinese nationality hit a record high in 10 years in 2021, the Securities and Futures Commission has remarked that its overall staff turnover rate surged to 12 percent in 2021, and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has reportedly met with the top management in the banking sector regarding a number of senior bankers’ successive exits from Hong Kong.”

Hui said: “As Hong Kong residents travelling abroad are not required to inform the government of their purpose of travel, we do not have direct statistics on emigration of Hong Kong residents. The necessary anti-epidemic restrictive measures we put in place might have affected enterprises and individuals to varying degrees.

“Nevertheless, Hong Kong has always been a highly open economy. Any outflow of talents is likely to be a temporary phenomenon as long as we are able to maintain our competitive edges.”

The secretary said that while the numbers of mainland professionals coming to Hong Kong dropped in 2020, they rebounded by nearly 20 percent in 2021.

He also cited figures showing that the number of non-Hong Kong companies registered in the city had increased from 13,572 at the end of 2020 to 14,418 in February of this year, and said that total bank deposits in Hong Kong had increased by 4.6 percent in 2021.

“The recent responses of the government to address public concerns by making appropriate adjustments to arrangements such as the post-arrival quarantine period and the flight ban are well received by the business and financial services sectors. I believe that Hong Kong will come out stronger after the epidemic and will be able to attract more talents to pursue career development in Hong Kong,” he added.