A third of US companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said they are struggling to fill senior roles, while half of the members of the business group are considering leaving Hong Kong on personal grounds.
Hong Kong has pursued a zero-Covid policy that involves a three-week quarantine to enter the territory and recently imposed a flight ban on passengers from eight nations including the US.
According to the results released on Wednesday, about 45% of the 262 companies surveyed said they had lost local Hong Kong staff who had emigrated in wake of the law, mostly due to the UK offering a path to citizenship.
The survey was conducted from September 10 to October 8 last year, before the city became further isolated by the flight bans this month after the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
“I hope this survey will serve as a launch point for discussion and collaboration to make Hong Kong a top destination for businesses from across the world,” AmCham Hong Kong president Tara Joseph said.
“Hong Kong has always renewed and refocused after challenging times,” Joseph, a former Reuters journalist, added.
AmCham found that 32% of respondents delayed new investments because of the city’s Covid-19 travel restrictions.
More than half said the Hong Kong government was “unconcerned or dismissive about business concerns”. However, only 5% of companies surveyed said that they had concrete plans to move their headquarters out of Hong Kong.
The city has also been hit by political unrest. Beijing introduced a tough national security law last year and cracked down on freedom of expression and the media after pro-democracy protests in 2019.
- George Russell