This undated file photo shows John Siu, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield's Hong Kong office. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)
Hong Kong’s fundamentals as an international financial hub--its free flow of capital, well-established legal system, low tax rates and favorable business environment--remain unchanged despite the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, according to John Siu, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield’s Hong Kong office.
Siu told China Daily on Wednesday that the stringent measures implemented to contain the coronavirus are temporary, and will not jeopardize the city’s attractiveness to international businesses in the long run.
John Siu, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield’s Hong Kong office, told China Daily on Wednesday that the stringent measures implemented to contain the coronavirus are temporary, and will not jeopardize the city’s attractiveness to international businesses in the long run
“In fact, we have consistently seen expansions or new set-ups in the banking and finance sectors, such as asset management companies, fintech service providers, crypto traders, and hedge funds, in Hong Kong in recent years,” he added.
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Total assets of banks in Hong Kong increased by 8.8 percent to HK$22.9 trillion ($2.9 trillion) in 2020, according to a KPMG report. The city’s financing and insurance sectors generated HK$155.58 billion in the value chain in the third quarter of 2021, expanding 2.9 percent year-on-year, according to the latest data from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
“This actually shows that financial institutions are still very much optimistic about Hong Kong’s future as a key hub for doing business,” Siu said.
With the Chinese mainland’s aid and the Hong Kong Special Administrative government’s anti-pandemic measures, Siu is hopeful that normal business operations can resume in the second half of the year.
More than 100 medical workers from the mainland have arrived in Hong Kong since last week to lend a hand in curbing the city’s surging infections. The Hong Kong government invoked the Emergency (Exemption from Statutory Requirements) (COVID-19) Regulation on Thursday to allow these professionals to treat COVID-19 patients without securing a license or registration.
Hong Kong reported 8,798 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
As the majority of employees in the city are currently working from home, Siu suggested that companies consider investing in audio visual equipment and making use of cloud storage and other computing services for virtual meetings.
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Siu said that some tenants of commercial properties are taking advantage of the current market situation to look for bigger office premises, as an upgrade from their existing offices.
An index representing rents of grade-A offices in Hong Kong, released by the Rating and Valuation Department, showed a 1.9-point drop in December 2021, compared to January last year.
Siu said with new completions providing up to about 3 million square feet (278,700 square meters) of space, this year would be a great time for tenants to go bargain hunting.
“We expect a positive annual net absorption of about 0.3-0.5 million square feet by the year-end. The rental reduction will be moderated when compared with the previous year,” he said.
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