Travel restrictions in Hong Kong are pushing members of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) away as more than half of respondents said they would leave the city, while the majority of businesses felt the government was “unconcerned” or “dismissive” about business concerns.
In its 2022 Business Sentiment Survey Report, AmCham examined a wide array of issues among its members. Around 53% of respondents said the restrictions related to the pandemic had spurred them to leave Hong Kong. Only 10% of them said they were "less unlikely" and "much less likely" to leave the city.
Hong Kong’s international travel restrictions to contain COVID-19 weighed heavily on both company and personal sentiment. With six out of 10 businesses based in Hong Kong as part of the global or regional headquarters, hefty quarantine rules and travel restrictions continued are said to be creating “significant disruptions” in offices outside Hong Kong. Over 30% of respondents had to delay new investments in Hong Kong, and 30% struggled to fill senior executive roles.
Travel restrictions also weighed heavily on sentiment about living in Hong Kong, from both a company and personal perspective. Over 40% were more likely to leave the city from a personal perspective, and over 25% of companies said they were more likely to leave Hong Kong.
The National Security Law was also of a concern for the respondents. Over 8 in 10 businesses operations felt the impact of it, particularly when it comes to staff morale and loss of employees who had emigrated. Meanwhile, nearly 60% of respondents said Hong Kong’s rule of law had worsened in the last 12 months, and 23% did not feel confident in the rule of law in Hong Kong.
There was also a perception that foreign businesses were less welcome in Hong Kong than in 2020. More than half of respondents felt the Hong Kong government was “unconcerned” or “dismissive” about business concerns.
Globally, 86% of companies agreed that the US-China relationship had some impact on their business, leading to uncertainties in the business outlook. There was also a general pessimism about the outlook for improved relations.
Although the respondents had many concerns the study also highlighted some positive issues. For example, businesses were generally optimistic about Hong Kong’s business outlook with plans to expand in investments for the next 24 months. Hong Kong’s transport and logistics and the financial services sectors were among the most optimistic.
"Hong Kong has always renewed and refocused after challenging times, and hopefully business, government and residents can work together to surmount challenges. Given the challenges of the past few years, it is now more important than ever to remain vocal in areas that are relevant to Hong Kong’s sustainable success," said AmCham president Tara Joseph.