Hong Kong – July 29, 2019 – International businesses are feeling pessimistic about the short-term prospects for Hong Kong as escalating violence and political deadlock take their toll on operations and fuel perceptions that the city is becoming a riskier place, a survey of AmCham members has found. The government should take immediate and tangible actions to address the root causes of recent demonstrations and restore confidence in the city’s status as Asia’s preeminent international business and financial center, members said.
“AmCham urges the government to stem any further damage and show clear leadership in meeting the expectations of Hong Kong people and in restoring the city’s international reputation for effective governance under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework,” said AmCham President Tara Joseph.
“A clear majority of our membership surveyed over the past week said the government needs to address the underlying causes of the protests and not simply to paper over the cracks of social instability with a short-term law-and-order fix,” Joseph said.
AmCham members representing sectors ranging from financial services to logistics and tech suggested the following ideas for restoring confidence in Hong Kong: To formally and completely withdraw the Extradition Bill in order to remove any room for continued public doubt; to convene an internationally credible independent inquiry into all aspects of recent unrest over the bill, a move that will demonstrate fairness and justice under the rule of law.
A healthy environment for businesses is one that is governed by the rule of law, an open, transparent framework of governance, and free and fair exchange of information, features which have made Hong Kong a first-rate center for international trade and the establishment of Asian corporate headquarters. AmCham feels that a core component of those ingredients for success is the right to peaceful protest and political expression. However, the chamber also recognizes that violent and destructive acts will be costly to the city’s economic and cultural success and urges all Hong Kong people to refrain from violence and engage the government in constructive dialogue.
Survey reports serious consequences from violent and destructive acts
In light of last weekend’s continued and escalating violence surrounding political protests in Hong Kong, AmCham began surveying members on July 23 to gauge the ongoing impact – if any – on business sentiment. About 12 percent of our membership responded as of midnight on July 25.
This survey was not intended as a scientifically rigorous statistical analysis, but rather as a straw poll to capture the zeitgeist of member views.
Based on the responses and additional qualitative comments, the chamber found valuable insights, as well as a clear mandate to continue our advocacy based on the genuine interests of the business community and the values that we believe drive prosperity and help to differentiate Hong Kong as a global financial and commercial hub.
The survey found that businesses are already reporting serious consequences from the disruption caused by weeks of mass demonstrations, political paralysis and outbreaks of violence and destructive acts in a city that has won an enviable reputation as one of the world’s safest places.These range from an immediate hit to revenue caused by disruption to supply chains and consumption, to longer term doubts over cancelled events and shelved investments. Respondents also reported a deepening perception within their companies and among overseas customers that Hong Kong has become less safe and a riskier place in which to conduct business.
While members made clear Hong Kong’s many unique competitive advantages remain largely intact, they voiced concern that a failure to address the instability and worsening perceptions toward the city now may lead to irreparable damage over the long term. The primary beneficiary of Hong Kong’s decline will be Singapore, the survey found.
AmCham is not, and has no ambition to become, a political organization. However, the feedback from members underscores the crucial intersection between good governance, political inclusion and social stability that provide the essential ingredients for economic prosperity and sustainable business performance.
Government Relations Executive
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ABOUT AMCHAM HONG KONG
With about 1,400 members, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong is one of the largest American chambers outside the United States, the largest international chamber in Hong Kong, and one of the most dynamic and influential international business organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. AmCham’s mission is to foster commerce among the United States, Hong Kong, and Mainland China; and to enhance Hong Kong's stature as an international business center.