Hong Kong should focus on maritime insurance and Brexit – legislator

Saving struggling insurance sector and capitalising on economic shift could lift Hong Kong’s global status

Hong Kong should focus on maritime insurance and Brexit – legislator

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

To increase international competitiveness, Hong Kong must strengthen its maritime insurance sector and seize post-Brexit opportunities, a legislative councillor said.

Holden Chow, a member of the Legislative Council and vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, recently stressed the need for the special administrative region to focus on its maritime sector and attract new business in the wake of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

In an op-ed published by the South China Morning Post, Chow said that Hong Kong’s maritime insurance sector is falling, while that of fellow Asian financial hub Singapore is rising.

He noted that despite 10% of the world’s vessels being registered in Hong Kong, only 0.6% of the global maritime insurance premium – worth HKD200 billion – was purchased in Hong Kong.

Chow believes that Hong Kong authorities are too restrictive and are stifling the sector’s growth.

“Too much red tape can prevent [the maritime insurance] sector from expanding in Hong Kong,” Chow wrote. “The government has to be flexible and create an atmosphere where these companies can operate with the minimum of restrictions.”

According to Chow, these actions will strengthen Hong Kong’s status in the international community and nurture more business and employment opportunities.

Chow also highlighted the opportunities presented by Brexit, which will lead to the UK losing many of the favourable trade conditions it had as part of the European single market. According to Chow, many British companies will begin looking for new business opportunities outside Europe, most likely in Asia, especially in the Greater China region.

“We should make a concerted effort in Hong Kong to welcome these British firms and encourage them to set up offices, including regional headquarters, in Hong Kong,” he wrote. “This could create jobs and enhance Hong Kong’s reputation as an international finance centre.”

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