Hong Kong is looking likely to “open up to the rest of the world” once its latest Covid-19 wave fades, before the lights of Singapore grow too tempting for corporate expats.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she is “very optimistic” the financial hub will soon pull off pandemic restrictions which have blanketed the city since last year.
A coalition of passenger and cargo airlines have called on the city to scrap its rigorous Covid-19 testing for aircrew, Bloomberg first reported, as it deters carriers from flying into the city.
Lam had feared that the city’s financial institutions had begun to lose their patience with the strict measures.
It comes as Singapore, the fellow city-state just a stone’s throw away, lifts most of its restrictions for vaccinated visitors from 1 April.
Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a speech today that the city will “drastically streamline” requirements for vaccinated arrivals, as well as dropping a requirement to wear masks outdoors.
The rival financial centre had been pegged to snap up surplus business, if Hong Kong continued its controversial ‘Zero-Covid’ stance against the virus.
Some 26 per cent of businesses in Hong Kong and more than 40 per cent of corporate expats were thinking of relocating amid tough measures, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong revealed in January – with the lights of Singapore tempting weary travellers.
Around 80 per cent of those polled considered Singapore to be Hong Kong’s biggest business rival.
Though Dubai has also seen an uptick. From both Hong Kong and Russia, amid its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
Managing partner of Dubai-based Growthgate Capital, Karim Souaid said that his adopted home “is a financial hub and business centre that has a solid shot at picking serious business and trade volumes away from Hong Kong (after the Chinese crackdown on democracy protests) and from London (post-Brexit but more so after the war in Ukraine)”.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs, the first Wall Street bank to exit Russia, has reportedly moved half of its 80-strong Moscow workforce to Dubai – which has prompted JP Morgan and Rothschild to follow suit.
The shift to warmer horizons is already showing signs in Dubai’s property market, with a local high-end apartment landlord telling The New York Times earlier this month of the “incredible demand” from Russians in recent weeks.