British Virgin Islands

Thursday, Oct 29, 2020

Hong Kong Protests Continue - Penn Worried About Financial Services

As the protests involving clashes between activists and police in Hong Kong continue, with no immediate sign of ceasing, Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Marlon Penn is concerned about how these protests are affecting the BVI’s financial services industry. The Opposition Leader is concerned because Hong Kong is the gateway to the BVI’s Asia market, where approximately 40 percent of the Territory’s financial services revenue come from.

The BVI’s interest in Hong Kong is physically demonstrated the Territory's financial services arm, BVI House Asia in that jurisdiction.

In recognition of the financial services ties, Hon. Penn raised the matter and the possible implications to the BVI’s bread and butter industry during the September 2 sitting of the House of Assembly.

The Opposition Leader told his colleagues, “There’s been a series of events that’s been happening in Hong Kong that’s creating some concerns for me. I think that’s one of the bigger hurricanes that’s brewing for us in the Virgin Islands. It’s the issues surrounding the protests that are happening in Hong Kong and the level of unrest that seems to be happening in the financial district and all around the Hong Kong area.”

Hon. Penn said that he is concerned because there is a connection in terms of the effects of the protests on BVI’s financial services sector.

“Considering Mr. Speaker that Hong Kong represents a significant portion or the Asian Pacific region, particularly Hong Kong and China represent a large portion or percentage of our financial services business,” he stated.

“Close to over 40 percent is estimated [last time I saw] of our business is conducted in that region. The slightest instability, the slightest concern of takeover or anything of that sort could send shock waves through the industry, and spell a serious concern for us in this Territory in terms of our revenues from that industry,” the Opposition Leader stated.

In calling on the Premier to pay keen attention to the situation, Hon. Penn said, “I think it is something that Premier we need to monitor closely, and I know we have our team in Hong Kong. I’m sure they’ve been giving you regular updates, but I think that it is important for us to communicate to the public what is happening there, how it is impacting what is critical to us – our financial services industry – our daily lives.”

“These issues are bigger than all of us and the time for politics and doing the things that are important for all of us. Important to the livelihood of not just us in this House, but the people of this Territory. If we don’t have this industry...,” he added.

The Hong Kong Protests

Over the last few months, Hong Kong, which is a former British Colony, has been marred by protests which commenced in June and continued up to this week.

Hong Kong has enjoyed a level of autonomy from China under a "one country, two systems" deal. The series of incidents were sparked by a Bill that was geared towards allowing extradition to mainland China. The proposal outraged citizens of Hong Kong because they felt that it would weaken the city's judicial freedom and endanger dissidents.

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