Overall consumer prices in September fell 2.2% year-on-year, larger than the corresponding decrease of 0.4% in August. The increase was mainly due to the rising cost for meals bought away from home and the upward adjustment in public housing rentals. Looking ahead, overall inflationary pressures should stay mild in the rest of the year as global and local economic conditions remain weak amid the threat of COVID-19.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.4% (Jul – Sep) while the underemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8%. With the weak overall economic situation amid the evolving global pandemic, the labor market will remain under pressure in the near term.
The HKSAR Government is committed to supporting research on a wide spectrum of health issues with a view to safeguarding public health and curing diseases. Speaking at the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole 20th Anniversary Opening Symposium (Oct 21), Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the tripartite partnership with academia and industry will create an open platform for multi-sectoral collaboration and facilitate the translation of biomedical innovations into commercial value and industrial impact. It will also contribute to Hong Kong’s transformation into an international innovation and technology hub. In the area of medical research and to combat COVID-19, the Government has allocated nearly US$35 million under the Health and Medical Research Fund in support of some 50 COVID-19 research studies. Separately, the Innovation and Technology Fund is supporting nearly 60 trial projects focused on detection, diagnosis and surveillance of the COVID-19 virus.
Practicing solicitors and barristers in Hong Kong can practice law in nine cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area after obtaining their Mainland practice qualifications under a new pilot program announced by the State Council General Office (Oct 23). Welcoming the program, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said the arrangement will foster the mutually complementary co-operation relationship between Hong Kong and Guangdong. She encouraged practicing solicitors and barristers to capitalize on the development of the Greater Bay Area and further enhance Hong Kong’s legal service.
Hong Kong FinTech Week 2020 will take place virtually from Nov 2-6 to allow global fintech businesses and experts from around the world to participate. The week-long event, themed “Humanizing FinTech”, will explore how fintech can unlock the power of financial services to drive positive impacts for society and business. The event will comprise five channels, focusing on the resilience and development of Hong Kong and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, future fintech trends and finance sector growth opportunities. It will also provide a reinvented virtual event experience with artificial intelligence-powered matchmaking, live chat networking opportunities and Hong Kong cultural side events. Co-organized by Invest Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Securities and Futures Commission and the Insurance Authority, Hong Kong FinTech Week is expected to attract more than 25,000 participants from over 70 economies and 350 speakers, along with more than 500 exhibitors and over 30 delegations.
Hong Kong, with its clear and compelling advantages, is well-positioned to be a green finance hub, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam at an online symposium (Oct 23). The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has been implementing measures for the city to offer the needed financial services and capture the available opportunities. These included the launch of Green Bond Grant Scheme and the establishment of the Hong Kong Green Finance Association in 2018, and the launch of the green bond issuance program in May 2019. Later this year, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange will launch the Sustainable and Green Exchange as a first-of-its kind central hub in Asia for data and information on sustainable and green-finance investment.
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Hong Kong’s vibrant fashion and style took to the runway at New York Fashion Week (Feb 6), presenting 36 unique creations by three leading Hong Kong fashion brands – Harrison Wong, Heaven Please+ and Sun=Sen. Aside from the Fashion Hong Kong show, industry elites and style influencers learned more about the latest in Hong Kong’s fashion at the after-show event – Fashion Hong Kong Night. To further promote the city’s fashion brands and foster exchange and collaboration between Hong Kong designers and international buyers, emerging Hong Kong fashion accessories and apparel brands are featured in Fashion Hong Kong Showroom (Feb 4 – Mar 5).
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, welcomed the passage of the funding application for the Anti-epidemic Fund by the Legislative Council (LegCo) Finance Committee (Feb 21). Mrs Lam conveyed her heartfelt thanks to LegCo Members for their support and approval of the funding application for the HK$30 billion (US$3.8 billion) Anti-epidemic Fund to achieve the objective of fighting the COVID-19 virus. “The Government will continue to assess the impact of the epidemic on society and listen to comments from all sectors, while introducing more support measures as necessary,” she said.
Recognizing that Innovation and Technology is an important growth engine for future economic development, the Government is also supporting a series of measures in this aspect, including the exploration of the development of a third InnoHK research cluster.
The Financial Secretary has also earmarked US$385 million (HK$3 billion) to take forward Phase 2 of the Hong Kong Science Park Expansion Programme and injected US$256 million (HK$2 billion) into the Innovation and Technology Fund to provide matching-basis support for manufacturers setting up smart production lines. The Government will continue to provide enhanced tax deduction for qualifying R&D expenditures and proposed a US$25.6 million (HK$200 million) Green Tech Fund to support the R&D and application of decarbonization and green technologies.
The Financial Secretary also set out a series of proposals to fortify the city’s competitiveness as an international financial center. Over the next five years, the Government will issue green bonds totaling US$8.5 billion (HK$66 billion). We will also continue to issue inflation-linked retail bonds and Silver Bonds, totaling at least US$1.6 billion (HK$13 billion). To encourage the development of private equity funds in Hong Kong, tax concessions for carried interest issued by private equity funds will be provided.