Chief Executive of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam said on Wednesday that the Government will roll out more measures to bolster the economy.

More efforts will be taken to help enterprises and the public tide over difficult times when necessary, in addition to policies put in place in the past two months, Lam said while delivering the 2019 policy address.

Recent violent incidents have posed an unprecedented challenge to Hong Kong’s economy, with sharp falls in visitors, retail sales and exports. Business sentiment was also gloomy. Local job market is bracing for even bigger pressure as unemployment rate is on the rise.

Lam said the economy is considered to have already slipped into a technical recession since the third quarter, noting that the HKSAR government has lowered the economic growth forecast for 2019 to a range between zero to one percent.

The Hong Kong economy only edged up 0.5 percent year on year in the first half, the weakest growth since 2009.

In the face of an increasingly austere economic situation, Lam said the HKSAR government is seeking support from the relevant central authorities and simplifying approval procedures for Hong Kong enterprises wishing to develop in the mainland.

Lam said efforts were also made to grant Hong Kong businesses favourable policies from the central authorities, which were currently enjoyed by their mainland peers in the Belt & Road markets.

The HKSAR government will continue to support the four pillar industries including finance, tourism, trade and logistics, and foster the development of innovation, environmental protection and other emerging sectors, Lam said.

Lam also stressed new opportunities for local businesses and new growth drivers for the economy in the Belt & Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Despite the looming challenges, Lam still expressed optimism about Hong Kong’s long-term development.

“With our solid foundation, institutional strengths and the opportunities afforded by our Motherland, as well as the perseverance and strong adaptability of Hong Kong people, I firmly believe that Hong Kong will be able to ride out this storm and move on,” Lam said.

Lam also reviewed the work of the HKSAR government in the past two years in the policy address.

  • The number of free trade agreements signed between Hong Kong and other economies doubled in the past two years, and Hong Kong’s 13th overseas Economic and Trade Office was established in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • The number of business operations in Hong Kong with parent companies overseas or in the mainland has exceeded 9,000. Among them, 1,541 have set up regional headquarters in Hong Kong, representing a 9.1 percent increase over 2017.
  • The number of startups in Hong Kong has seen an even more encouraging growth of 42.8 percent to 3,184 during the two-year period between 2017 and 2019.