Dear SwedCham Members and Friends,
I would like to thank you for re-electing me as the chairman of SwedCham at our April 24 Annual General Meeting. Representing the Swedish business community in Hong Kong has been one of the greatest honours of my life. Having already completed two terms since 2017, I now look forward to leading the chamber for three more years.
Hong Kong is in the middle of several transitions that are taking place at the same time. We are at long last re-emerging on the world stage after three years of restrictions brought about by the pandemic. We have some catching up to do as others were quicker to re-open and, at least in some cases, provided guidance that allowed businesses to plan ahead. Still, it is reinvigorating finally to see visitors return to Hong Kong. As most of them will realize that rumors about Hong Kong’s demise were greatly exaggerated, we should see a rebound in the economy, and with that renewed confidence in this place that we call home.
We are also in the middle of a transition whereby Hong Kong becomes more closely integrated with mainland China. This is natural and should be welcomed, but will take some getting used to. I would like to see steps taken to facilitate mobility across the Hong Kong-mainland boundary, for example by allowing all holders of Hong Kong identity cards visa-free access to the Greater Bay Area. I would encourage each of you to spend a weekend in Shenzhen or Guangzhou. They are both very impressive cities and are, quite literally, on our doorstep.
With One Country Two Systems as the bottom line, I am convinced that Hong Kong is in a position to retain and even strengthen its position as the premier international business hub in Asia. I would be the first to admit that One Country Two Systems looks different today compared to a few years ago. As a chamber, we will continue to speak out when we have concerns about the business climate, as we did in 2019, and as we have done repeatedly based on what you tell us in your survey responses. Our voice matters and we need to remind ourselves that we actually have a role in shaping the future of Hong Kong.
The results of this year’s Business Climate Survey will be published in June. I would like to thank those of you (60% of the Swedish community) who responded, providing valuable input. “Armed” with the survey results, we will engage with our Hong Kong counterparts in and around those issues that you have flagged as being of chief concern.
Before I leave you, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Consul General Per Augustsson on his appointment as Sweden’s new ambassador to Beijing (starting August, 2023). During his three years in Hong Kong, Per has been an outstanding partner. Per’s personal style – relaxed and approachable, yet always prepared and on the mark – sets a great example for the business community to follow. His renditions of Abba on the grand piano, and Små grodorna on the accordion will live long in memory. Sweden will be well served with Per Augustsson at the helm in Beijing.
Kristian Odebjer, Chairman