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Transcript of remarks by FS at media session (with video)
     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, at a media session after attending the Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit this morning (November 3):
Reporter: Mr Chan, some say that you are enjoying this privilege by not having any restrictions, so what do you think? And also, about the interest rate hike, so what impact will that have on Hong Kong's economy, which recorded a contraction in the third quarter?
Financial Secretary: As I said earlier on, I came back to Hong Kong and before boarding the plane I took RAT (rapid antigen test), and the result was negative. Before boarding the plane, I also filed electronically a health declaration. So, before boarding the plane, what I did was similar to that of any Hong Kong citizen to qualify myself for coming back to Hong Kong.
     On arrival, I did a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test and then went home. This "test-and-go" policy also applies to every Hong Kong citizen coming back from overseas. The health authority looked at my PCR test result, took into consideration the details of my health declaration and the fact that I did not have any symptoms on arrival. They finally decided this was a case of recovery similar to the other 400 cases that they handled before. So the treatment that I had been given was the same as anyone's. There is no particular privilege at all.
     As to interest rate hikes, the interest rate hike in the US (United States) was as expected, at 0.75 per cent. Now the interest rate of the US is at a high level, unseen for almost four decades. The Fed Chairman (Chair of the Federal Reserve of the United States) told the media that they would look at the result of the successive interest rate hikes and its impact on the US economy as well as inflation, because there was a delaying effect. He also said that going forward, the pace of interest rate hikes could be slower.  But at this stage, it would be too early to conclude that the interest rate hike cycle is going to stop. The US inflation at the moment still stands at over 8 per cent. Unemployment rate is still very low. So there is still a high chance that the US will continue to raise interest (rates).
     For the Hong Kong situation, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority also raised the base interest rate accordingly. Given the interest rate environment, external demand would continue to be depressed, which will affect our export. A couple of days ago the GDP (gross domestic product) of Hong Kong for the third quarter was released. It dropped by 4.5 per cent. Yes, the economic situation has been challenging. But if we are able to put COVID-19 under control; if we are able to continue to have more travels between Hong Kong and the rest of the world, that would provide additional impetus to our economic growth. So let's work together to build our economy.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Thursday, November 3, 2022
Issued at HKT 17:20
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