June 29th, 2023
Dear SwedCham Members and Friends,
As we celebrated both Dragonboat Festival (Tuen Ng) and Midsummer Eve last week, I take this opportunity to send my very best greetings for the summer.
SwedCham has kept busy throughout May and June, with recent activities like the launch of results of the 2023 Business Climate Survey and a Hong Kong Legal Update. Please keep an eye on our events listing and weekly emails as there will be opportunities to meet other SwedCham members also during the summer. The weekly runners club, the upcoming SwedCham bicycle trip and our monthly After Work all represent good opportunities to do so.
The Business Climate Survey confirmed that Hong Kong is well on its way back, although not quite “there” yet. Tellingly, 84% of our members indicated that the business climate is now neutral, good, or very good. This can be compared to an all-time low of 43% who gave the same description of business climate in the 2022 survey, which was undertaken while Hong Kong was still deep in its Covid doldrums.
Among concerns listed by our members, shortage of talent was the most common issue, mentioned by 48% of respondents. This should come as no surprise as Hong Kong saw net outward migration of approximately 200,000 people during Covid, with young people being over represented among those leaving (link).
While Hong Kong is facing serious challenges, I think we have reason to be hopeful as the core assets of our city are still intact. Hong Kong remains an unmatched international financial center in Asia, with outstanding professional services and logistics infrastructure. Our location on the map has not changed, and we still have the rule of law.
The rule of law was a theme of the Legal Update that I had the pleasure of hosting in mid-June. While the legal landscape has changed with the introduction of the National Security Law, the Hong Kong legal system, with its independent courts and highly qualified corps of solicitors and barristers, still stands strong, comparing favorably with our peers in the region and beyond in a well-regarded annual report published by the World Justice Project (link).
I am a strong proponent of smoother mobility across the Hong Kong-Mainland boundary. This involves the scrapping of unnecessary immigration red-tape (a.k.a. visa requirement), but work is also needed to make the Hong Kong versions of Mainland payment and mobility apps fool proof. As many of you have found out the hard way, these days you are effectively stranded if you find yourself in Shenzhen without a fully verified Alipay/WeChat/Didi setup.
I am convinced that SwedCham will continue having an important role to play as a hub for the business community in the intersection between Sweden, Hong Kong, and the Mainland. Our work is guided by “Swedish” values such as openness, caring, sustainability, and innovation. Please let me know how you think we are doing. Please also consider going beyond “just” being a member. We are always looking for individuals who would like to get involved in our various initiatives. You may also want to consider our attractive sponsorship packages; you support allows us to create even more impressive content and events for the benefit of our members. See the offering here.
As we enjoy summer – whether in Hong Kong, Sweden or elsewhere – we can look forward to an exciting SwedCham program taking shape for the fall of 2023, starting with our annual crayfish party on September 16. Tickets will go on sale soon on our events page.
Before signing out for the summer, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gabriella and her team consisting of Karain, Leonard, and Kelly, for their outstanding efforts on behalf of our members. All of us are spoiled to belong to an organization that punches well above its weight, putting together innovative content (the first ever chamber of commerce career fair, anyone?) and dazzling events (just think back at last year’s Great Gatsby Gala!) As chairman of the chamber, I could not be happier with our management team!
Kristian Odebjer, Chairman