Hong Kong’s homes, already the world’s most expensive, are set to reach new record highs this year, according to financial giant JP Morgan. As quoted in SCMP, the city is expected to see its housing market continue to inflate this year, with prices likely to rise by another 10%-20%, JP Morgan’s head of Asian property research, Cusson Leung, says.
Quantitative easing – more money in the hands of investors, in other words – and short supply, combined with demand from local users, are driving the market’s climb, Leung says.
This is despite “real and painful” talk of Hongkongers leaving the city, as a Bloomberg opinion piece states, following the protests of 2019 and the implementation of new national security legislation. Leung questions whether people leaving Hong Kong are mostly home-owners, and if they are, how many would be selling their properties now.
On a more light-hearted note, the SCMP also carried a report comparing the cost of a luxury flat in Hong Kong and an ancient Italian castle, asking whether anyone would rather live like a duke or squeeze into a few thousand square feet of space.
Yantian International Container Terminal, which manages southern China’s largest port, in Shenzhen, has announced that operations have been fully restored, as of midnight last night:
All berths (including the Xigang operation area) have basically resumed normal operations;
Reservations for entering the gates has been increased to 9,000 vehicles per day, while withdrawal of empty containers is operating as usual;
Receipt of export heavy containers will return to normal ETA-7 days (that is, seven days before the expected arrival date of the ship).
However, it is not yet disclosed how many containers are awaiting offloading or onloading at the port, which handles a quarter of all goods shipped between the US and China. A report by Week in China quoted business executives as saying the recent lockdown has had a much bigger effect on global trade than the closure of the Suez Canal.
A former partner of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. is suing its local subsidiary in Macau over the 2002 awarding of its license in Macau, in a claim worth a staggering US$12bn.
Lawyers for the Asian American Entertainment Corp. are claiming that LVS broke their joint-venture contract unlawfully just before pairing up with Galaxy Entertainment in February 2002 for the license bids. The LVS-Galaxy venture went on to win one of two new licenses that were awarded just weeks later (the other one went to Wynn Resorts). AAE is claiming the astronomical amount because it says it is entitled to 70% of the profits of LVS subsidiary Sands China in Macau from 2002-2018.
In recent testimony, the former head regulator of Macau’s gaming industry said the addition of LVS to the Galaxy bid was clearly advantageous to Galaxy’s success, given the American company’s experience in Las Vegas. (The two companies split their license later that year, citing irreconcilable differences. This led to the creation of sub-licenses, two of which later were sold, by Wynn Resorts to Melco Resorts, and by SJM to MGM China.)
Although Shenzhen officials say Yantian Port should be back to normal operation by the end of this month (June), it would appear that the recent lockdown of the area due to a small Covid-19 outbreak has had a major disruptive effect on global trade. Some sources in the shipping industry are saying the disruption is far worse than the recent jam of the Suez Canal in Egypt, affecting twice as many containers of goods.
According to a report in Week in China, at least 50 ships are waiting at anchor outside Yantian, while cargoes have not been collected for more than 16 days, with more than 600,000 TEU of containers impacted.
Week in China quotes sources as saying the strain is being felt in supply chains. “The longer operations in Yantian are restricted, the worse the delays will become and the more the need to find alternative routes, particularly with the peak pre-Christmas season coming and supply chains already stretched to breaking point,” says Tim Huxley, chairman of Hong Kong’s Mandarin Shipping. “Coming after the crisis in Suez, this is just the latest blow to a stretched industry and it might be the end of ‘just in time’ inventories and a return to warehousing being a good investment. One thing is for sure, costs will rise and this will have to get passed down the supply chain along with these delays”.
Guangdong has given out more than 100 million Covid-19 vaccination shots – 101,124,300 doses, to be precise – yet only 35.7 million people have received both doses, suggesting a coverage rate of just 28.35%.
The vaccine rollout is accelerating, however. Officials say the first 10 million doses took 108 days to administer, while the tenth 10 million doses took just five days. At this rate, a 40% coverage ratio is expected by the end of June for the province’s registered residents. In the second half of the year, Guangdong says it will further accelerate the vaccination rate for people over 18 years of age to build a population immune barrier before the end of the year.
Shenzhen’s Yantian Port, which was heavily disrupted by the recent Covid-19 outbreak, should be back to normal by the end of the month, officials say. At present, daily throughput is nearly 24,000 TEUs, around 70% of the level prior to the outbreak, which resulted in the lockdown of the area, home to one of the world’s biggest container ports.
“The operation of the port terminal is steadily improving, the reservation system is operating effectively, traffic in the port area and its surroundings is smooth, and all sectors of society have responded well,” Chen Biao, secretary of the board of Yantian Port Group, told reporters. Lin Lixin, deputy general manager of South China COSCO Shipping Container Lines Co., Ltd., told reporters that the company is confident that Yantian will resume work and production steadily. “The company has already made plans to re-berth in Yantian Port Area, and I believe that the liner routes in Yantian Port Area will soon return to normal conditions.,” Lin said.
Hong Kong companies will be invited to participate in official projects related to the Belt and Road Initiative, according to a senior Commerce Ministry official, starting with four based in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesdia. Li Yongjun, a deputy director of the ministry, said Hong Kong companies would improve the quality of the projects, which have access to preferential state-supported financing. He was referring to the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park, the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Park, the China-Indonesia Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, and China Fortune Happy Indonesia Karawang Industrial Park.
Li said he believed Hong Kong companies would be best in focusing on the fields of law, financing, taxation, auditing, and environmental protection. Construction companies would also be welcome to improve standards and services.
An official of the Hong Kong government, Denis Yip, who heads the BRI Commission under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, said such projects are ideal entry points for Hong Kong enterprises to “go out” and expand overseas markets.
Hong Kong’s former Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying (CY), has spoken of his concerns that Hong Kong businesses could suffer lasting damage from not being able to travel into the mainland, as they are increasingly replaced in vital supply chains and partnerships. Travel restrictions have made it difficult for many business executives based in Hong Kong to see their suppliers, customers and partners on the mainland for more than a year as the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in closed borders and strict quarantine rules.
At least Hong Kong residents of Chinese origin holding home-return permits have been able to travel into the mainland. Many other nationals based in the city have not even been allowed in. This is resulting in many of them questioning whether permanent damage has been done to the international business environment in China, according to an analysis by the SCMP.
Read more about CY’s views here and foreign business concerns here.
Construction has begun on a new project in Shenzhen’s Longgang district called the Universiade Culture and Art Park, which is aimed at promoting cross-border interaction between Shenzhen and Hong Kong artists. Covering an area of 73,800 sqm, the project, being developed by the Shimao Group, will have small art galleries, art exhibition halls, conference and exhibition centers, performing arts centers, theaters, youth activity centers, community sports venues, libraries, cultural activities centers, and various outdoor areas.
A cultural activity center sits at the heart of the project, covering 8,000 sqm. It is expected to open in 2023.