BUSINESS HK retail sales may see sharp decline due to pandemic: official

BUSINESS

HK retail sales may see sharp decline due to pandemic: official

Global Times

05:01, March 30, 2020

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Only a few people arrive at Hong Kong International Airport on Friday, one day before the local government imposes a mandatory quarantine on anyone arriving from Italy, regions of France, Spain, Germany, and Japan. (Photo: GT)


Hong Kong's retail sales figure for March is expected to show a continued sharp decline, and the economy of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)  will maintain weak in the coming months, HKSAR Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-Po said in his blog on Sunday.

Chan urged the Hong Kong public to be mentally prepared for difficult times in the second quarter of this year, citing experts at the Hong Kong health authority as predicting the global coronavirus pandemic may last for more than one year.

"The economy may not be able to bounce back as quickly as it did in 2003 [when SARS broke out], during which the economy bounced back a few months later," he said.

The SAR government is aware that the new anti-epidemic measures are adding to the already difficult situation of some small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Chan said.

"The government has pledged to support the affected industries," said Chen, adding that the authorities were studying different measures, including a second round of "anti-epidemic funds" to support struggling industries and employees.

Hong Tao, director of the Institute of Business Economics at Beijing Technology and Business University, told the Global Times that Hong Kong, an international commercial and logistics hub, will experience a relatively bigger impact amid the coronavirus outbreak and more efforts should be made to alleviate its predicament.

"Hong Kong is a hub of global supply chains and a financial center. Recently, the US stock market suffered four circuit breakers, which greatly affected Hong Kong, a city that is highly dependent on the global economy and trade," Hong said.

He noted that although the outbreak in the Chinese mainland has largely eased, prevention and control policies have not been well adapted in the HKSAR.  

In addition, society in Hong Kong remains volatile from time to time, making the city have to face an even longer impact from the crisis, he added.

However, Hong said that the HKSAR government has taken the lead in launching corresponding measures, such as e-coupons, which may stimulate the economy and alleviate the impact of the outbreak.

Chan said in his speech on the 2020-2021 budget on Thursday that the HKSAR government will give a HK$10,000 ($1,409) cash handout for all permanent residents over the age of 18 to stimulate local consumption.

It is estimated that the measures will benefit about 7 million people and involve the expenditure of about HK$71 billion, Hong Kong media outlet on.cc reported on Thursday.


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