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Most businesses in Hong Kong plan to halt recruitment in 2020 due to economic turmoil

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The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce’s (HKGCC) annual survey has revealed that businesses in Hong Kong are predicting a bleak outlook for the coming 12 months, resulting in a possible hiring and salary freeze.

When asked how their business had been affected since the start of the protests in June until October 2019, a total of 84% of respondents said their business had been affected (29% significantly, 30% moderately, 25% slightly affected). A total of 13% said they had not been affected.

For the coming 12 months, 37% of respondents expect their business turnover to continue to fall, while one third predicted business would be flat. Only 13% expected to see in increase in turnover.

Conversely, 11% of employers plan to hire more staff, and 28% of businesses said they planned to increase staff pay in 2020.

“Businesses have been battered by internal and external turmoil, which is also impacting employees,” Aron Harilela, HKGCC’s chairman, said.

The protests and trade war were the two biggest factors affecting respondents’ businesses, followed by China’s slowing economy. A total of 67% of respondents said that the protests in the city were either a very important (40%) or important (27%) factor impacting their business, compared to 61% for the trade war.

“Our survey was conducted in early November, which does not take into account the intensified disruption and violence in mid-November, so businesses are most likely suffering even more than the results of our survey show,” Shirley Yuen, HKGCC’s CEO, said.

“It’s also important to note that about half of the respondents were SMEs, who have limited reserves to carry them through these very challenging times. Restoring order and normality, not concessions, are the key to their survival, because at the end of the day businesses will not be able to recover, nor investors return, unless things get back to normal.”

The Business Prospects Survey was conducted from 4-8 November 2019. A total of 416 responses were received from member companies, 46% of which were SMEs.

Photo/The Shining

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