Asia update - February 2020

11 February 2020

Here is the latest update from Asia Representatives Wendy Weng & Dorothy Kwok

The outbreak of the coronavirus has unsurprisingly caused disruption to business in Hong Kong and China. Cities and provinces are blocked and most people are working from home at the moment. A range of business events have either been cancelled or delayed. Hong Kong banks are closing up to 30% of branches and schools will remain closed until 2 March as the regions do their best to minimise the threat of the virus spreading in the wider community.

Before all that, Wendy had business trip to Wuhan and Beijing to follow up with potential clients for a captive structure, and is preparing for an in-house presentation in March for a fund and lawyer exchange programme. There is positive news that a potential captive insurance client signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a reinsurance company in January.

Dorothy attended in the Asian Financial Forum in January. Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam acknowledged the struggles Hong Kong has faced over the last few months, not only local political unrest but also from an ongoing global slowdown and US-China trade war. She stressed that the financial system’s strength and resilience have not been undermined. Financial Secretary Paul Chan highlighted Hong Kong's strengths as a global financial centre underpinned by its solid linked exchange rate system, its fully convertible currency and the free flow of capital. He added the city would also step up efforts to capitalise on emerging opportunities from green finance and fintech, as well as the Greater Bay Area development and the Belt & Road Initiative.

During the panel discussion, Global Outlook and Opportunities for 2020, the speakers shared their thoughts and insights on the global outlook, including how policymakers can support the economy and financial institutions in this context. 38% of the attendees polled China-US tensions on trade, technology and cross-border investment is the major challenge for global growth in 2020; 36% of them polled intensifying geopolitical risks; 19% polled limited headroom for monetary and fiscal policies to support growth; 6% polled elevated corporate debt restraining business spending.

In the panel discussion of 2020 Green and Sustainable Finance Opportunities, the Hong Kong Green Finance Association announced that The Greater Bay Area Green Finance Alliance will be launched in May this year. Under the new Alliance, three projects will be led by Hong Kong including the Green Buildings Project, Blockchain Solar Project and Carbon Trading, while the waste management project will be led by Shengzhen and green supply gain will be led by Guangdong. An MoU for the exchange of green project information was also signed during the event.

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