Singapore central bank chief hopes Hong Kong, China will open up

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) – Singapore’s central bank chief would like Hong Kong and China to open up quicker and more decisively over the next year as their strict border restrictions may impact business ties between the key Asian financial hubs.

“I would hope that China and Hong Kong will be able to open up faster over the next year,” Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon said in a recent interview, responding to a question on whether Singapore can gain from the different border situations.

As Singapore has strong ties with both , “not being able to travel to these places without considerable frictions, does stand in the way of strengthening our business links.”

The divergence between Singapore’s strategy of living with the virus and the “Covid-Zero” one still pursued by China and Hong Kong has become more stark in recent months. While Singapore has been establishing several vaccinated travel lanes, including with the United States, parts of Europe and most recently with its neighbor Malaysia, China and Hong Kong have stuck to strict border measures, notably lengthy quarantines on arrival.

Plans for a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore have been shelved repeatedly as the cities saw a rise in infections. Eventually, Hong Kong said it will not pursue such a travel lane due to the two cities’ differing Covid strategies.

The city is instead prioritising opening its borders with China first.

Mr Menon said that when Singapore opens up, it wants to strengthen links to all geographies, and both China and Hong Kong are important parts of these ties.

China was Singapore’s largest merchandise trading partner last year, while Hong Kong and Singapore compete as key financial hubs in the region.

“I’d very much hope that they would be able to open up more decisively over the course of next year,” said Mr Menon. “That’d be good for Asia. That’d be good for Singapore.”

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