Hong Kong seeks to revive global banking status with major summit


A general view of Two International Finance Center (IFC), the headquarters of HSBC and Bank of China in Hong Kong, China July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

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HONG KONG, May 27 (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s central bank plans to hold a major conference in November which it hopes will attract global banking bosses, sources said, as the financial hub seeks to welcoming international businesses back after two grueling years of closed borders.

For most chief executives of major global banks, the meeting would be their first visit to Hong Kong – historically a massive global conference venue – in at least three years, sources familiar with the matter said.

The Chinese-controlled territory closed its borders in early 2020 to most non-residents to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and maintained some of the world’s toughest restrictions, which have starved its economy of tourist arrivals and d ‘business.

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Visitors to Hong Kong must quarantine for seven days in hotels and face mandatory testing before and after arrival as the city sticks to its near-zero COVID-19 strategy to curb all outbreaks. as soon as they occur.

Those rules, combined with temporary measures this year that have separated families and children in quarantine facilities, have sparked an exodus of expatriate workers, particularly in financial services, from the city.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is working with Hong Kong-based foreign investment banks on the event, which is scheduled for early November and will run alongside the prestigious rugby 7s tournament, the sources said.

Rugby 7s are due to take place from November 4-6, having been postponed several times since the start of the pandemic.

For the HKMA conference to attract global bankers, mandatory seven-day hotel quarantine rules would need to be relaxed, said the sources, who declined to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

After a two-year ban, the borders reopened to non-residents this month, although their entry is subject to the seven-day hotel quarantine.

While the exemptions allow senior financial executives visiting Hong Kong to leave their hotels for meetings, very few have taken advantage of the program as itineraries must be filed with regulators, the sources said.

Hong Kong authorities have so far given no public indication of their intention to ease quarantine restrictions by November.

A spokesperson for HKMA told Reuters the authority was working on a “high-level investment summit” and would release more details later.

“The HKMA maintains regular dialogue with relevant government authorities to share with them the financial industry’s observations and suggestions regarding Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic measures,” the spokesperson said.

“We will defer to the competent government authorities for border control.”

Hong Kong’s outgoing chief executive Carrie Lam said this week that quarantine rules are unlikely to be changed until her term ends on June 30. John Lee, who takes over as CEO on July 1, has said he wants Hong Kong to remain a global financial center.

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Reporting by Scott Murdoch; additional reporting Selena Li. Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Sam Holmes

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