David Solomon shared at a conference that the challenges of doing business in Hong Kong and China for his investment bank are significant. But are his words enough to spur change for the strict travel restrictions? Probably not.
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said on Wednesday that he does not expect Hong Kong and China to ease their tight travel restrictions anytime soon and this posed a challenge for staff.
“I think there are some challenges, China, Hong Kong have a certain approach right now to COVID and therefore they are relatively closed,” Solomon said at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.
Solomon said he was making his first trip to Asia since February 2020, in a region he would normally visit 4-5 times a year.
“I haven’t been to Hong Kong or China and don’t expect that I’ll be able to go for quite some time.”
Hong Kong has among the toughest coronavirus quarantine rules in the world, with requirements that visitors spend up to three weeks in a hotel after arriving from many countries around the world.
Solomon’s comments come days after JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon said he believed Hong Kong’s strict pandemic measures are making it tougher for the investment bank to retain staff in the financial hub, Bloomberg News reported.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday defended the decision to grant Dimon an exemption from having to serve quarantine when he visited the city this week, saying JPMorgan was a major bank which meant he had “very important business” in Hong Kong.
Solomon said many of Goldman’s staff in Hong Kong and China have passports from other countries and have been caught up in the travel restrictions in terms of leaving or coming back.
“That’s not a great dynamic for talent but we’re in a moment of time where we’re going to have to navigate that and that’s certainly a headwind for global talent in that part of the world, right at this moment,” he said.
Solomon said he did not expect the travel restrictions to loosen up in the next couple of months.
Business lobby groups have pushed the Hong Kong government to ease the strict requirements, saying the rules are undermining the city’s status as a financial hub.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Scott Murdoch; Additional reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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