Hong Kong firms look to Singapore to escape protests: Poll

Some 80 per cent of respondents said the protests have impacted their future investment decisions regarding Hong Kong.
Some 80 per cent of respondents said the protests have impacted their future investment decisions regarding Hong Kong.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Almost a quarter of businesses in a new survey are thinking of leaving Hong Kong to escape ongoing protests, with most looking to Singapore as their favoured location.

Some 23 per cent of surveyed companies with an office in Hong Kong are considering moving business functions from the city, while 1 per cent already have plans to relocate, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore poll.

Of those firms, nine in 10 see Singapore as the best option - beating any other destination in South-east Asia or elsewhere.

Some 80 per cent of respondents said the protests have impacted their future investment decisions regarding Hong Kong.

The chamber conducted the poll from Aug 21-29 across 120 companies with regional head offices mainly in Singapore. Almost two-thirds of the firms had an office in Hong Kong.

While the survey represents a modest sampling of businesses in the two financial centres, the data shed light on corporate sentiment around a sensitive issue.

There's no indication that Hong Kong's turmoil will end soon, even as the city's Chief Executive Carrie Lam last week gave in on one of the protesters' demands by scrapping the extradition Bill that initially drew people onto the streets three months ago.

In the meantime, Singapore officials have been reluctant to celebrate any wins on the sidelines.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing warned on Sept 2 that "continued disruptions to Hong Kong's stability will have negative spillover impact on Singapore and the region given these close linkages" in trade and investment.

 

Firms in the survey appear more optimistic. Among those considering relocation out of the territory, 86 per cent said Singapore will reap gains, while almost two-thirds of those staying put agreed.