Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, USA
Hong Kong

News Release - April 2020

First batch of Hong Kong residents stranded in Pakistan to return home on chartered flight
April 29, 2020 - A spokesman for the Security Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government said today that the first batch of around 300 Hong Kong residents stranded in Pakistan would take a chartered flight tentatively scheduled for departure from Islamabad in the morning on April 30 (local time) and expected to arrive in Hong Kong in the afternoon on April 30. The cost for taking the chartered flight is borne by the users.

Provisional financial results for the year ended March 31, 2020
April 29, 2020 - The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government announced today its provisional financial results for the year ended March 31, 2020.

Exchange Fund at US$535.6 billion
April 29, 2020 - The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced today that the total assets of the Exchange Fund amounted to HK$4,094.6 billion (US$524.9 billion) as at March 31, 2020. This is US$10.6 billion (HK$83.2 billion) lower than that at the end of February 2020.  Foreign currency assets decreased by US$14.6 billion (HK$114.5 billion) while Hong Kong dollar assets increased by US$4 billion (HK$31.3 billion).

External merchandise trade statistics for March 2020
April 27, 2020 - The Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government released today the external merchandise trade statistics for March 2020. In March 2020, the values of Hong Kong's total exports and imports of goods both recorded year-on-year decreases, at 5.8% and 11.1% respectively.

HKSAR Government mapping out plans to bring back Hong Kong residents stranded in India and Pakistan by chartered flights
April 25, 2020 - In response to media enquiries, a Government spokesman said today that the Security Bureau is mapping out plans to take Hong Kong residents stranded in India and Pakistan back to Hong Kong by chartered flights.

Consumer Price Indices for March 2020
April 23, 2020 - The Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government released today the Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for March 2020. According to the Composite CPI, overall consumer prices rose by 2.3% in March 2020 over the same month a year earlier, larger than the average rate of increase in January and February 2020 (1.8%). The comparison to the average rate of increase in January and February is to neutralize the effect caused by different timing of the Lunar New Year between two years, which occurred in late January this year but in early February last year. The larger increase in the Composite CPI in March compared to January and February combined was mainly due to the Government's payment of public housing rentals and waiver of two-thirds of rent for tenants of Group B estates by Hong Kong Housing Society in January 2020.

Government announces appointment and removal of Principal Officials
April 22, 2020 - The State Council, on the recommendation by the Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, today approved the appointment of Mr Patrick Nip Tak-kuen as the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr Caspar Tsui Ying-wai as the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Erick Tsang Kwok-wai as the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Christopher Hui Ching-yu as the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury and Mr Alfred Sit Wing-hang as the Secretary for Innovation and Technology as well as the removal of Mr Joshua Law Chi-kong from the post of Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr Lau Kong-wah from the post of Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Nip from the post of Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr James Henry Lau Jr from the post of Secretary for Financial Services and Treasury, Mr Nicholas W Yang from the post of Secretary for Innovation and Technology and Mr Tsang from the post of Director of Immigration.

US Dollar Liquidity Facility
April 22, 2020 - The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced today the introduction of a temporary US Dollar Liquidity Facility (the Facility) to make available US dollar liquidity assistance for licensed banks. 

Triggering of the Strong-side Convertibility Undertaking
April 21, 2020 - The strong-side Convertibility Undertaking (CU) of HK$7.75 to US$1 under the Linked Exchange Rate System (LERS) was triggered today (April 21) during the Hong Kong trading hours. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) sold HK$1,550 million to the market in exchange for US dollars, and the Aggregate Balance will increase by the same amount. Taking into account the reduction of HK$5 billion of Exchange Fund Bills issuance earlier today, the Aggregate Balance will increase to HK$60.6 billion on April 23. This is the first triggering of the strong-side CU since October 2015.

Latest directions under Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation and Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation
April 21, 2020 - With the joint efforts of the healthcare sector and the community since early this year, the various public health measures that aim to enhance social distancing and border control have begun to deliver results. As a result, the number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong appears to have stabilized in recent days.

Unemployment rate rises to 4.2%
April 20, 2020 - According to the latest labor force statistics (i.e. provisional figures for January - March 2020) released today by the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 3.7% in December 2019 - February 2020 to 4.2% in January - March 2020. The underemployment rate also increased from 1.5% in December 2019 - February 2020 to 2.1% in January - March 2020.

Government enhances testing arrangements for asymptomatic inbound travellers
April 20, 2020 - The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government announced today that starting from April 22, all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) will be mandated to wait for test results at a designated location after collecting their deep throat saliva samples for conducting testing for COVID-19 at the Department of Health (DH)’s Temporary Specimen Collection Centre (TSCC) at AsiaWorld-Expo under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap. 599).

HKSAR Government’s response to Fitch’s announcement of change to Hong Kong's credit rating and outlook
April 20, 2020 - In response to the announcement by Fitch today (April 20) on downgrading the credit rating of Hong Kong to “AA-“ from “AA”, and changing its outlook to “stable” from “negative”, a Government spokesman made the following comments:

Chief Executive welcomes passage of funding application for second round Anti-epidemic Fund by LegCo
April 18, 2020 - Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, today welcomed the passage of the funding application for the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund and other relief measures by the Legislative Council (LegCo) Finance Committee.

Hong Kong residents returned safely from Morocco
April 10, 2020 - A Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government spokesman said today that 27 Hong Kong residents who left Morocco on a chartered flight arranged by the Chinese Embassy in the Kingdom of Morocco arrived in Guangzhou this afternoon. Among them, 26 people subsequently took the coaches arranged by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to leave there and returned to Hong Kong via the Shenzhen Bay Port. 

Reducing the issuance of Exchange Fund Bills
April 9, 2020 - The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced today a plan to suitably reduce the issuance size of Exchange Fund Bills in order to increase the overall Hong Kong dollar liquidity in the interbank market.  The additional liquidity will help ensure continued smooth operation of the Hong Kong dollar interbank market amidst a volatile global macro environment brought about by the spread of coronavirus.

Tax payment deadline automatically extended by three months
April 9, 2020 - The Chief Executive announced on April 8 that to ease the financial burden and cash flow of businesses and individuals arising from COVID-19, tax payment deadlines for salaries tax, personal assessment and profits tax demand notes for the year of assessment 2018/19 which fall between April to June of this year are automatically extended by three months.

Government further strengthens support for enterprises
April 9, 2020 - To strengthen support for enterprises facing operational difficulties amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government will further enhance the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales (BUD Fund) and the SME Export Marketing Fund (EMF). The Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation (HKECIC) has also launched a new round of measures to support the export trade of Hong Kong. All the new enhancement measures will be rolled out within this month to provide timely assistance to enterprises.

Hong Kong residents stranded in Morocco to leave the country on chartered flight arranged by Chinese Embassy in Morocco
April 8, 2020 - A Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government spokesman announced today that to assist Chinese citizens stranded in Morocco to leave there, the Chinese Embassy in the Kingdom of Morocco (Chinese Embassy in Morocco) will arrange a chartered flight to bring the Chinese citizens, including 27 Hong Kong residents, back home. The chartered flight is scheduled to depart at 4pm on April 9, local time (11pm on April 9, Hong Kong time) from Casablanca to Guangzhou. The cost will be borne by the passengers.

Latest directions under Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation and Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation
April 8, 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic remains severe around the globe. As of noon on April 7, the number of cases reported globally had exceeded 1.25 million. Meanwhile, the number of local confirmed cases as at noon on April 7 had reached 936 (including one probable case), a drastic increase from the number of 387 confirmed cases a fortnight ago. Many of the cases are locally acquired infections without travel history.

Government announces measures involving to support enterprises, employees and the public
April 8, 2020 - In response to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 virus, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, today announced a series of measures involving over HK$130 billion (US$16.66 billion) to help businesses stay afloat, keep workers in employment, relieve financial burdens of individuals and businesses and assist the economy to recover once the epidemic is contained.

Hong Kong’s foreign currency reserves at US$437.5 billion
April 7, 2020 - The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced today that the official foreign currency reserve assets of Hong Kong amounted to US$437.5 billion as at the end of March 2020 (end-February 2020: US$445.7 billion).

Health quarantine and testing arrangements for inbound travellers strengthened
April 7, 2020 - The Department of Health (DH) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Govenrment will strengthen health quarantine and COVID-19 testing arrangements for all inbound travellers starting tomorrow (April 8). All asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) will be mandated under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation (Cap. 599A) to collect their deep throat saliva samples at the DH's Temporary Specimen Collection Centre at the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) for conducting testing for COVID-19.

Entry restriction on non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas extended
April 6, 2020 - A Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government spokesman said today that the Government will extend, until further notice, the entry restriction on non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries or regions by plane and those having been to overseas countries or regions in the past 14 days preceding arrival at Hong Kong.  All transit services at the Hong Kong International Airport will also continue to be suspended until further notice.

Hong Kong residents safely returned from Peru by chartered flights arranged by HKSAR Government
April 5, 2020 - A Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government spokesman said that 65 Hong Kong residents who took the chartered flights arranged by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government safely arrived Hong Kong from Peru today (April 5) in the afternoon. They subsequently proceeded to the Centre for Health Protection's testing center at the AsiaWorld-Expo for COVID-19 testing and are now awaiting the testing results. If tested negative, they can return home or proceed to a designated place to continue completion of the 14-day compulsory quarantine.

Chartered flights arranged by HKSAR Government for Hong Kong residents stranded in Peru
April 3, 2020 - A Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government spokesman said today that a chartered flight taking Hong Kong residents out of Peru is scheduled to depart from Lima to London at around 4pm on April 3 local time. Upon arrival in London, the Hong Kong residents concerned will take an ordinary connecting flight with secured flight bookings back to Hong Kong. The cost will be borne by the users.

HKMA and banking sector join forces to help Hong Kong’s economy overcome outbreak of COVID-19
April 3, 2020 - The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) together with the major banks and Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation Insurance Limited (HKMCI) met representatives from the commercial sector (including Members of the Legislative Council) today to exchange views on the effectiveness of banks’ measures to support SMEs and discuss future follow up work in this regard.

Latest directions under Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation
April 2, 2020 - In view of the emergence of 62 confirmed COVID-19 cases related to the bar and band cluster with further spread to additional 14 secondary, tertiary and quaternary cases (including a 40-day old infant) who had not visited any bar, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will introduce new measures to regulate businesses that sell or supply intoxicating liquors for on-site consumption.  In accordance with the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (The Regulation) (Cap. 599F), the Secretary for Food and Health (SFH) has issued directions through notices in the Gazette today (April 2) to be effective for 14 days from 6pm on April 3, 2020 (i.e. till 5.59pm on April 17).

Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirement and Directions) (Business and Premises) (Amendment) Regulation 2020 gazetted
April 1, 2020 - The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government published in the Gazette today the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirement and Directions) (Business and Premises) (Amendment) Regulation 2020 (the Amendment Regulation).

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