Hong Kong offers new visa to woo talent amid brain drain


Hong Kong’s chief on Wednesday unveiled a new visa scheme to woo international talent, as town seeks to stem a brain drain that has risked its standing as a global monetary centre.

Chief Executive John Lee mentioned the new Top Talent Pass Scheme will permit these incomes an annual wage of two.5 million Hong Kong {dollars} (US$318,472) or above and graduates from the world’s high universities to work or pursue alternatives within the metropolis for 2 years.

The bid to entice talent to Hong Kong comes as a whole lot of hundreds of residents have left town in recent times, pushed by an ongoing political crackdown and diminished freedoms following the implementation of a tricky nationwide safety regulation, in addition to strict COVID-19 entry restrictions that had been in place for a lot of the pandemic.

Over the final two years, town’s workforce has shrunk by about 140,000 individuals, Lee mentioned.

“We should be extra proactive and aggressive in competing for enterprises and competing for talent,” Lee mentioned throughout his maiden coverage tackle on Wednesday. “Apart from actively nurturing and retaining native talent, the federal government will proactively trawl the world for talent.”

He additionally introduced a raft of proposals — together with tax rebates and relaxed measures for hiring foreigners — to enhance town’s competitiveness, after its coronavirus restrictions hammered the native economic system and drove professionals away.

Foreign new dwelling consumers can obtain a partial refund of the stamp obligation — a tax levied on property purchases — on their first residential property buy after they change into a everlasting resident.

Processes may also be streamlined for corporations to make use of foreigners in designated professions, with plans to arrange a new process drive to formulate recruitment methods and supply assist for newcomers.

Lee’s inaugural tackle largely centered on efforts to recruit international employees and assist livelihoods in an try to win public belief, in accordance to Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy.

But such measures are unlikely to enhance Lee’s reputation within the metropolis, as insurance policies just like the new visa scheme concentrate on attracting new, international talent as a substitute of retaining native talent, Choy mentioned.

“You are solely making an attempt to entice new blood, however you don’t strive to cease the bleeding,” he mentioned.

Later within the afternoon, Lee mentioned he was dedicated to retaining native professionals as effectively, pointing to town’s schooling efforts and subsidies to assist employees pursue their profession targets.

Lee, a former safety chief handpicked by Beijing to lead Hong Kong, is beneath strain to reposition town as a high enterprise and monetary hub, after an exodus of residents sparked fears that talent would proceed leaving for rival cities like Singapore and Dubai. He goals to recruit 35,000 expert employees to town every year.

The metropolis’s inhabitants in mid-2022 dropped 1.6 per cent from a yr earlier, falling by 113,200 residents, in accordance to authorities statistics in August.

Singapore overtook Hong Kong in a rating of worldwide monetary centres final month and in August introduced a new visa that permits expert, high-earning international talent to work for a number of corporations on the identical time, as a substitute of only one employer.

Despite Hong Kong’s new talent drive, Singapore nonetheless has some benefits over Hong Kong due to its place in Southeast Asia, the place some economies are quickly rising, mentioned Simon Lee, honorary institute fellow at Chinese University’s Asia-Pacific Institute of Business.

He mentioned working in a spot that depends on China would possibly imply some “profession dangers” to expert employees, as China is at present grappling with financial headwinds. Skilled employees who go to Hong Kong could come from mainland China, and the transfer to Hong Kong may be a stepping stone for his or her profession, in accordance to Lee.

“Those mainland skills have extra locations (to select from),” he mentioned. “Hong Kong could also be their first step, but when they’ve a more sensible choice, they may go to different locations.”

Lee, town’s chief government, additionally addressed housing and nationwide safety insurance policies in his tackle.

To meet rising housing demand on the planet’s costliest property market, Lee pledged to present sufficient land to construct 72,000 personal residential residences over the following 5 years.

He additionally mentioned the federal government would pace up the event of public housing by introducing easier layouts to scale back ready time for candidates, who at present look ahead to a median of six years to get an condominium. Other measures embody introducing a minimal measurement restrict for new items.

On nationwide safety, Lee mentioned the federal government would “additional strengthen the authorized system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding nationwide safety” as town prepares to enact its personal safety regulation, which was shelved in 2003 after fears a couple of lack of freedoms sparked huge protests in opposition to an try to implement it.

New legal guidelines and laws may also be applied to regulate crowdfunding actions and improve cybersecurity for vital infrastructure.


Soo reported from Singapore.


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