New poll says 56pc of Hong Kong professionals expect city’s competitiveness to decline in 2017

45pc suggest political environment may negatively affect growth, amid increased competitive pressure from mainland China and Singapore

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 October, 2016, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 October, 2016, 10:39pm

The majority of Hong Kong business professionals are cautious about the city’s economic prospects next year, amid pressures from other markets and political uncertainty, a new report says.

In a survey by CPA Australia, one of the world’s largest accounting bodies, of industry-wide finance, accounting, and business executives in the city, 56 per cent said they expect Hong Kong’s competitiveness to decline, under increased pressure particularly from mainland China and Singapore.

A third of respondents believe Hong Kong’s GDP in 2017 will increase between 1 and 1.9 per cent, following the economic slowdown this year that set growth predictions between 1 and 2 per cent. GDP growth in 2015 was 2.4 per cent.

“Respondents are cautious about Hong Kong’s economy in 2017,” the report concluded.

The three biggest economic positives for the city were growth in the mainland, low interest rates, and infrastructure projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

With its increasing integration into the mainland’s economy, business-friendly environment, low taxes, well-developed capital markets and a large pool of professional talent, Hong Kong is very well placed to build on its reform agenda
Alex Malley, CPA Australia’s chief executive

But on the flipside, 45 per cent of respondents indicated Hong Kong’s political environment may negatively affect growth in 2017.

Moody’s Investor Service recently warned that newly elected lawmakers in the Legislative Council, which now contains a larger pro-democracy contingency than before, may damage the city’s credit rating with filibustering tactics.

In light of those findings, CPA Australia said it “encourages the SAR government to provide even greater support to spur business and entrepreneurs to undertake innovation in Hong Kong”.

The accounting body also recommended the government attract more multinational corporations to set up regional headquarters in Hong Kong, provide greater support for the fintech industry, and better inform small and medium-sized enterprises about opportunities within Beijing’s “One belt, One Road” economic initiative.

“With its increasing integration into the mainland’s economy, business-friendly environment, low taxes, well-developed capital markets and a large pool of professional talent,” said Alex Malley, CPA Australia’s chief executive, “Hong Kong is very well placed to build on its reform agenda.”