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Govt shrugs off expat exodus over security law

Govt shrugs off expat exodus over security law thumbnail

Commerce Secretary Edward Yau said on Wednesday that Hong Kong remains an attractive place for foreign firms to do business, even though a survey suggests many expats are losing interest in the city.

Yau made the comment after the American Chamber of Commerce said 42 percent of more than 320 members it recently surveyed were considering or planning to move out of the SAR within the next five years, with more than a quarter saying they would do so before the end of this year.

Almost two-thirds of the respondents were said to be uncomfortable with the national security law.

The chamber called on the government to “pay close heed to the sentiment of expatriates in Hong Kong and work towards allaying major concerns through stronger understanding of Hong Kong’s international talent, lest the city lose competitiveness versus other business hubs.”

But speaking to reporters after attending a Legco meeting, Yau appeared unmoved by the latest findings.

He said the government had taken the time to explain the importance of the law to the business community, and most people had said they were grateful that the legislation had “brought back stability” to the territory following the 2019 social unrest.

“Different business entities would have different reasons to stay or otherwise, but I think figures also speak for themselves,” he said, adding that according to a business survey, the number of overseas firms with regional offices in Hong Kong has remained steady at around 9,000.

“Of course, there is no ground for complacency; we believe that business decisions would best be made by people who actually stay and operate in Hong Kong, and I also see from similar surveys that the majority of foreign firms still believe Hong Kong is the place for doing business, particularly with the opening up of opportunities,” he said, citing the Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative as examples.

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