AmCham temperature test gets feel of nervous firms

Top News | Bloomberg and Winnie Lee 14 Jul 2020

A majority of US companies in the SAR are concerned about the national security law, with more than one-third considering moving their business out from the city in the long term, says a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

The survey was conducted from July 6 to July 9 and received responses from 183 US firms - or 15 percent of its members - more than half of which have headquarters in the United States.

The lobby group said 76 percent are concerned about the sweeping security measures barring subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion, with most being extremely concerned.

AmCham described the poll as a "temperature test" of members' sentiments rather than a scientific study.

Major concerns included the ambiguity in the scope and enforcement of the law, the independence of the judicial system and the potential loss of freedom of expression and speech that will undermine Hong Kong's status as an international business center and the risk the city could lose its status as a global financial hub.

Nearly 70 percent aid they have gradually become more concerned about the law and 56 percent thought the released article is harsher than expected. Nearly half of the interviewees claimed that the law has a negative effect on their business and 13 percent of them reckon it has positive impacts.

However, 26 percent of the companies said the law makes them feel safer living and working in Hong Kong, echoing the government's arguments about the need for stability - compared with slightly more than 50 percent who said the law makes them feel less safe. About 22 percent said they are not concerned about the legislation.

About half said they personally are considering leaving Hong Kong and 41 percent of them are pessimistic about the future of Hong Kong.

Most companies said they are adopting a wait-and-see approach to the law, while some firms are planning to reduce trade and investments in Hong Kong, as well as business travel between the city and the United States.

Two-thirds said they have no plans to leave, about 30 percent are considering moving out their capital, assets or business in the mid to long term while five percent will do it soon.

AmCham chief Tara Joseph said:"Nobody wants to leave, but there are some question marks that are arising. And what makes people most uncomfortable as the survey is telling us is they really want to hear some answers."


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