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June 19, 2024
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Hong Kong remains an ‘ideal option’ for international investment despite capital market pressures, finance chief says ahead of World Economic Forum meeting

Hong Kong remains one of the “most ideal options” for international investment despite pressure on capital markets, the finance chief has said, pointing to an ongoing net-inflow of funds into the city.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po struck the upbeat note on his weekly blog on Sunday, ahead of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which he will be attending.

“It is true that in the face of the global high interest rate environment and multiple external adverse factors, Hong Kong’s asset market has been under pressure in the past year,” Chan said.

“However, it is also true that investment opportunities have become more attractive, and many funds are waiting for chances to look for investment opportunities.”

Financial Secretary Paul Chan says the total growth in deposits last year was expected to reach 5 per cent. Photo: Dickson Lee

In the first 11 months of 2023, total deposits reached HK$16 trillion (US$2.04 trillion), a year-on-year increase of 4.1 per cent, of which deposits in Hong Kong dollars rose by 1.7 per cent year-on-year to HK$7.6 trillion, Chan added.

Taken together with preliminary figures from December, the minister said the total growth in deposits last year was expected to reach 5 per cent.

“The figures reflect that between entry and exit, funds are still in a state of “net inflow,” he said.

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Chan’s positive assessment comes amid a four-year slump in the city’s stock markets, and wider economic malaise despite earlier hopes of a post-pandemic rebound.

The Hang Seng Index was down about 13.8 per cent in 2023, according to its year-end report, marking its fourth straight year of decline. It also had its worst start to the year since 2016, as a slowdown in mainland China’s growth and longer than expected policy tightening in the US continued to dent sentiment.

Housing prices have also fallen to their lowest in seven years, down about 20.6 per cent from the market’s peak in September 2021, as the city’s slowing economy and high interest rates undercut demand.

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But Chan said international investors sought out the most “cost-effective return opportunities, and thus were not focused on “past numbers”, but rather “potential for future growth”.

“Many international investors who are familiar with the Hong Kong market agree that the city is one of the most ideal options,” he said.

The finance chief added that there were “great advantages” in Hong Kong’s wealth management sector, pointing to a 2023 report by US-based Boston Consulting Group which estimated that the city would experience a 7.6 per cent growth rate in the industry between 2022 and 2027.

He also highlighted efforts to diversify the city’s economy, including the “vigorous promotion” of innovation and technology industries, including in artificial intelligence, data science and biomedicine.

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Chan said he would introduce and promote the city’s developments while attending the summit in Davos this week.

The summit is an annual event which brings together public officials, business leaders and civil society groups from around the world. This year’s meeting runs from January 15 to 19 under the theme of “Rebuilding Trust”.

“I hope that everyone will strengthen cooperation and achieve better economic growth together,” Chan said.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau Ying-wah will join parts of the summit, along with Airport Authority chairman Jack So Chak-kwong, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chairwoman Laura Cha Shih May-lung and MTR Corporation CEO Jacob Kam Chak-pui.

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