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Hong Kong is facing its first recession since the global financial crisis in 2008.
Influenced by unprecedented factors.
Including its own ongoing anti-government protests and the trade stalemate between Washington and Beijing.
In February, the government predicted Hong Kong's economy would grow up to 3% this year.
Six months later, that forecast was slashed to 0 to 1%.
This time, the economic downturn has been fast.
Someone has described it as a tsunami.
Compared with past downturns that we have handled, such as those caused by SARS, and past economic storms, I'm afraid this is more serious.
Since June, the city's tourism industry has suffered from the increasingly violent and disruptive pro-democracy protests.
In August, normally a strong month for tourism, arrivals in Hong Kong dropped nearly 40% from a year ago.
It's the worst decline since May, 2003 when Hong Kong was grappling with the deadly SARS virus.
Occupancy rates of hotels in some districts fell around half while room rates decreased 40 to 70%.
Mainland Chinese tourists make up over 70% of total tourist arrivals in Hong Kong.
But when protests started in June, that number has dropped.
And there's also increase in anti-China sentiment in the city.
16 years ago, once the all-clear came after the SARS outbreak, visitor arrivals and business confidence swiftly recovered.
But, as the anti-Beijing mood grows in Hong Kong, so does opposition to the protests in mainland China.
The protests and the drop in tourists have disrupted the city's retail sales.
In August, sales dropped 23% from a year ago.
The worst monthly decline on record.
Luxury items were among the biggest victims.
Sales of jewelry, watches, and other valuable gifts fell nearly 50%, marking a record low.
The protests have been disruptive for life especially on the weekends.
In early October, there was a time when entire department stores were closed and major train stations were also shut down.
And also, if you go to popular shopping districts like Causeway Bay, it's actually a popular destination for protests now.
And then there's the trade dispute between China and the U.S..
Though the two sides emerged from the latest round of trade talks with a truce in place, there's still a lot to be worked out.
The effects of the stalemate have been felt in Hong Kong which relies heavily on reexporting Chinese goods.
Total exports are expected to shrink nearly 4% this year.
So far, the finance sector has weathered the protests.
Prohibition on face covering regulation.
However, when the government invoked colonial-era emergency powers, it put to the test Hong Kong's rule of law.
The authorities say they will only use the emergency provision to ban people from wearing masks at public gatherings.
But it also allows the chief executive to enact drastic regulations such as censorship, arrests, and foreign exchange controls.
The government said it had no such plans.
Declining reexports and the government's struggle to restore order to the city have erased any economic momentum from the start of 2019.
Experts believe numbers for the third quarter will confirm Hong Kong is in technical recession.
Despite the major decline in Hong Kong's economic indicators, Hong Kong's financial buffers still remain strong.
That can come under pressure if Hong Kong's status as a global financial and business center comes under fire.
And that could be really difficult and challenging for its longterm growth prospects.
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Why Hong Kong Is Facing a Recession Amid Protests and Trade Wars | WSJ

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Nina 2019 年 10 月 15 日 に公開
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