Why cutting quarantine won’t be enough to revive Hong Kong’s economy: Experts urge reopening of borders, full travel resumption


Cutting the quarantine time period for arrivals in Hong Kong will not significantly enhance local gross domestic solution stunted by Covid-19 restrictions, economists have warned, as they predicted anaemic development of involving .75 for every cent and 1.5 per cent for the 12 months.

The specialists all explained that only reopening the city’s borders with mainland China and resuming quarantine-free of charge journey would assist revive the financial state as the actions would reboot tourism-related sectors, such as retail, lodge and aviation.

In an distinctive job interview with the Post this 7 days, Monetary Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po indicated he might have to further more downgrade the city’s yearly gross domestic product (GDP) forecast in August, pointing to the weak restoration of an financial state even now reeling from the effect of the fifth wave of the coronavirus.

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Chan pointed out that when usage experienced picked up, exports and investments remained sluggish, declaring quarantine guidelines had been the “most critical constraint that we are facing and we have to overcome” in trying to make improvements to financial restoration.

The Submit before noted that wellness officials were “actively considering” chopping the week-very long hotel quarantine period for arrivals to 3 or four days, with authorities hoping at the exact same time to start a mainland China-type two-color health and fitness code to greater regulate the motion of infected sufferers and incoming travellers.

Iris Pang, main economist for Larger China at economic services organization ING, said that even if the quarantine interval was lowered, the economic impact would be particularly restricted so long as the border with the mainland remained shut.

“The go could assist spur the financial system but the impression will be quite minimal,” she claimed. “It can improve air vacation small business, as effectively as bookings of air tickets and accommodations. But it won’t support our inbound tourism as international travellers will no extended check out Hong Kong where by they are continue to required to go through quarantine.”

Pang estimated GDP would contract by 1 per cent in the 2nd quarter but rebound to .75 for every cent progress for the entire calendar year supplied Hong Kong reopened its borders with the mainland in the closing quarter.

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Completely vaccinated travellers are at present demanded to stay at designated quarantine lodges for 7 times and bear four polymerase chain reaction exams in the initial two weeks of their arrival, as perfectly as get day-to-day quick antigen exams while in isolation.

A overall of 148,009 men and women have entered the town so much in July, which has surpassed the year’s month-to-month arrival document set in June, when there ended up 136,994 site visitors. By comparison, Hong Kong welcomed just 63,141 arrivals in January when travellers were being needed to endure a few weeks’ quarantine in inns. The Tourism Board said there had been 41,112 visitors arriving in Hong Kong in June, up 563 for every cent calendar year on 12 months.

Before the pandemic, the city logged 65.15 million visitor arrivals in 2018, making a complete of HK$331.7 billion (US$42.25 billion) tourism pounds, when compared with just 91,398 arrivals in 2021, a drop of practically 99.9 for each cent.

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Chinese University economist Terence Chong Tai-leung estimated Hong Kong wanted to entice additional than 1 million guests just about every month prior to the economic system loved major development.

“That could only be achieved by opening up its borders with the mainland. Except there is a thing drastic normally, a piecemeal evaluate won’t assistance significantly with the city’s GDP,” he claimed. “Singapore is a great illustration as it has recorded a strong financial rebound after easing vacation limits for vaccinated travellers.”

Chong forecast that the overall economy would improve by 1.5 per cent for the yr following a robust rebound in the next 50 % of the yr. But he warned no growth was possible in the next quarter as exports slowed due to lockdowns on the mainland.

Hong Kong’s economy contracted by 4 for every cent calendar year on 12 months in the first quarter, which led the federal government to downgrade its forecast for 2022 to 1-2 for each cent advancement from 2-3.5 per cent. Singapore, by comparison, noted 3.7 for every cent development in the to start with quarter.

“I expect that China’s financial system will decide up strongly with financial stimulus actions and Hong Kong will greatly advantage from it,” Chong stated. “Hong Kong will want to completely open up up like Singapore to definitely revive the overall economy.”

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Gary Ng Cheuk-yan, a senior economist at Natixis Company and Expense Lender, mentioned the business ongoing to predict neighborhood GDP would raise by 1 for each cent in 2022, introducing that any reduction of the quarantine time period would not support the economic climate significantly.

“When global travellers can go to other quarantine-free of charge sites these types of as South Korea and Singapore, why would they hassle to come to Hong Kong, which nonetheless sticks to its Covid-19 policy and necessitates travellers to endure quarantine for a several days?” he claimed.

The predicted slice in the quarantine interval could at most boost arrivals by one particular fold, accounting for about 8 for each cent of the once-a-year quantity in advance of the pandemic, or around 56 million in 2019, he stated.

Ng agreed the city’s economic climate would be considerably boosted if it reopened its borders with the mainland, furnished there were not as well a lot of situations imposed on travellers.

“It all relies upon on whether or not there will be a alter in the Covid-19 plan,” he explained.

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