HONG KONG, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Speakers at the 15th Asian Financial Forum (AFF) voiced their optimism on Tuesday about Hong Kong's economy despite challenges, including the recent resurgence of COVID-19 in Hong Kong.
"I am still optimistic for what is in store for Hong Kong this year and beyond," Adrian Cheng, chief executive officer of New World Development, said in a video speech at the forum.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government has been implementing tighter anti-epidemic measures in view of the local COVID-19 situation, including a ban for dine-in services from restaurants for 14 days starting from Jan. 7.
According to the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, the local catering industry is estimated to experience a loss of approximately 1.5 billion Hong Kong dollars (about 192 million U.S. dollars) during the ban, and if the measure continues for two months, a loss of up to 8 billion Hong Kong dollars could be expected, making it even harder for small restaurants.
At the two-day virtual forum that concluded on Tuesday, speakers pointed to a future of Hong Kong full of opportunities.
"There are plenty of opportunities ahead for Hong Kong," said Norman Chan, former chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, noting that none of the other financial centers in Asia have the same conditions and qualifications as Hong Kong, which connects with both the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world.
Paul Chan, financial secretary of the HKSAR government, said tremendous opportunities for Hong Kong's financial market arose from the mainland's continuing development. He said earlier this month that major economies are expected to further recover in 2022, which will provide support to Hong Kong's exports.
"Hong Kong is consolidating our strengths as an international financial center and capitalizing on our ever-deepening ties with the mainland," Chan said, believing that the mainland will create mutually rewarding relations with Hong Kong, and through Hong Kong, with the world at large.
As a highlight event celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the two-day 15th AFF presented the insights of more than 170 global business leaders, policymakers, financial experts, investors, entrepreneurs, tech giants and economists.
The forum was organized by the HKSAR government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.