Traders 'to suffer in the next 12 months'
Hong Kong traders would suffer in the coming year as the global market continued to struggle, the General Chamber of Commerce predicted as it picked its new chairman last night.
Former MTR Corporation chief executive officer Chow Chung-kong (pictured) was elected the chamber's chairman at the annual general meeting, taking over from Anthony Wu Ting-yuk. The new deputy chairman is Pang Yiu-kai, a director of Jardine Matheson.
Chow said Hong Kong would face great challenges in the coming year because of the gloomy global economy. The chamber said revenue from exports fell 5.8 per cent in the first three months of the year, while imports were down 2.7 per cent.
David O'Rear, the chamber's chief economist, said that as Europe and the United States were China's two largest customers, the fiscal crisis - especially in the EU - would greatly affect the city's trading performance.
'If there's any growth at all in this year's trade, that will be a positive sign,' he said, adding that the retail, tourism, finance and investment sectors would remain stable.
O'Rear said 90 per cent of the city's tourism growth was from the mainland and the city should work to keep mainland tourists happy. 'That's the one aspect of our economy that offsets the international situation,' he said.
Wu said his two-year term had been eventful, and the city's commercial sector had overcome several crises, including the Japanese earthquake and the floods in Thailand.
Shirley Yuen, the chamber's chief executive officer, said the government had taken on board some of the chamber's suggestions regarding the competition law, but the chamber was still discussing the wording of some parts of the ordinance before it could accept the bill. She said clarification had to be made to let businessmen know what actions could 'cross the line',
Law Society vice-president Dieter Yih Lai-tak was elected president last night. Ambrose Lam San-keung and Stephen Hung Wan-shun won the vice-president positions.