September 26, 2023

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Hong Kong’s tough COVID curbs hobble its environmentally friendly finance ambitions

A standard perspective of Two Intercontinental Finance Centre (IFC), HSBC headquarters and Bank of China are noticed in Hong Kong, China July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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SYDNEY/HONG KONG, March 2 (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s ambition to become a hub for green and sustainable company is below menace as its persistent rough border controls in opposition to COVID-19 make the undertaking of attracting senior professionals more difficult for fiscal institutions.

Bankers and advisers claimed the threats of Beijing’s “zero-COVID” policy, which has now triggered a expertise crunch in the Chinese territory, are expanding as most other nations slash back again coronavirus curbs. examine much more

Flight bans, lengthy and expensive quarantine norms, limited obtain to general public expert services and the threat of separation from loved ones associates who examination optimistic have all spooked potential expertise.

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“It is obtaining harder and more durable to locate staff in Hong Kong,” said Tony Wong, founder of ESG professional Alaya Consulting, a strategy and reporting organization.

“The city is seeking to be a eco-friendly investment hub globally, but we can’t get the employees. COVID and the constraints have created it harder to bring in staff members.”

Hong Kong has stepped up attempts in current decades to develop into a chief in Environmental and Social Governance (ESG), including development of performing teams with authorities officials and world-wide companies to acquire a community talent pool.

And the metropolis stays fully commited to the effort and hard work to turn out to be a environmentally friendly finance hub, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) mentioned in a statement on Wednesday.

“These pandemic-associated troubles should be transitory and we are self-confident that the fundamentals underpinning Hong Kong’s standing … its strong monetary technique and ample development prospects, like ESG-similar company … remain potent and intact.”

The priority of evolving into a regional green and sustainable finance hub was declared previous Oct by the HKMA’s deputy chief government, Edmond Lau.

As a world wide transition to a reduced-carbon financial state gathers tempo, ESG investments exceeded $35.3 trillion, the World-wide Sustainable Investment decision Alliance claims, as institutional buyers are progressively graded on the sustainability of their holdings.

But Hong Kong’s ambitions are currently being set to the test as the tricky COVID curbs shrink its current pool of foreign expertise.

Introducing to the negative information was this week’s delay of the start of its inaugural retail eco-friendly bond value HK$6 billion ($768 million) since of the swift distribute of infections.

That surge has spurred Hong Kong to adopt some of the world’s hardest curbs, even with the increasing skepticism of some enterprise leaders, health-related authorities and diplomats about the viability of a zero-COVID plan. read through more

Flight bans on arrivals from 9 international locations, from Australia to Britain and the United States, will previous until eventually April 20.

Other zero-tolerance measures involve the closure of enjoyment places, compulsory screening on entire buildings and near contacts sent to quarantine camps. In some cases, mom and dad were being divided from young young children admitted to medical center.

“The demand from customers for ESG expertise is large but a person would search at Hong Kong imagining they can not journey and meet up with their spouse and children,” a senior sustainability executive at a world-wide asset supervisor explained to Reuters.

He spoke on situation of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.


The stringent curbs adhere to political ructions, including worsening Sino-U.S. ties, that prompted an before exodus of expatriates from Hong Kong.

The ESG depletion is also staying exacerbated by an easing of curbs in Singapore, a rival regional finance and ESG hub.

Ordinarily observed as risk-averse, Singapore is opting for a extra well balanced strategy of residing with COVID, so as to shield its dense inhabitants when reopening its overall economy and borders.

In 2019, the rich city-state’s central financial institution established up a $2-billion inexperienced investments program and encouraged asset professionals to beef up area ESG teams.

A senior government at a global asset manager said the central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), was incentivising companies to enhance staff members and favored senior administration to be centered there.

The MAS mentioned its investments application will assist moves to bring in sustainability-concentrated asset supervisors to Singapore. The central lender has claimed that asset professionals chosen for the system had to clearly show a agency commitment to deepening their green investment decision abilities and have professional teams to regulate their tactics.

Andrea Wong, an associate director at headhunter Robert Half, said she was conscious of a pair of ESG gurus relocating to areas such as Singapore in new months.

“The journey and quarantine limits do inevitably make relocating expertise from abroad to Hong Kong extra hard,” added Wong.


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Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney and Selena Li in Hong Kong Modifying by Clarence Fernandez

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Concepts.