Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu speaks to the media ahead of an Executive Council meeting on May 2, 2023. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

HONG KONG – Snapping four consecutive quarters of contraction, Hong Kong’s economy grew 2.7 percent in the first quarter of 2023, leader of the special administrative region said ahead of official data due to be released on Tuesday.

Speaking before the weekly Executive Council meeting, John Lee Ka-chiu said despite the drop in export in the first three months of the year, the city’s economic performance would further improve as the economy on the Chinese mainland and the recovery of the city’s aviation sector picked up the speed.

"The GDP (gross domestic product) growth in the second quarter will be better than the first quarter," the CE said.

"The economy this year will be better than last year," said a confident Lee.

The latest figure compared to a 4.1 percent contraction in the last quarter, he added.

The GDP (gross domestic product) growth in the second quarter will be better than the first quarter … The economy this year will be better than last year.

John Lee Ka-chiu, Chief Executive of the HKSAR

Speaking on government measures to relieve the pressure of tourism on the local community, the chief executive said tourists had diverse choices of what they wanted to do in Hong Kong.

"I am in support of diversity, and creating more attractions for tourists to come. This will not just help tourism, but also make local developments go hand in hand with the development of tourism, helping overall job creations and development of the economy, and also create a positive image of Hong Kong being a very vibrant and attractive city," Lee said.

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Regarding the "Northbound Travel for Hong Kong Vehicles" scheme, he said there was a rising demand for vehicle examination. He ordered the city’s Transport and Logistics Bureau to coordinate with the mainland authorities to cope with the demand.

On the District Council election, the CE said a review of the council was going to conclude and the government would announce the details of the new arrangements very soon.

Meanwhile, Lee hailed a Hong Kong delegation for its outstanding performance at the Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions 2023, saying that the international recognition had highlighted the city’s strong innovation and invention capacities.

Hong Kong's innovation and technology community presented a record high 293 projects in total, winning the Prize of the State of Geneva and Prize of the International Federation of Inventors' Association, eight special awards and about 30 gold medals with Congratulations of Jury. 

“As long as we break our bottleneck and work hard, we can compete with other cities,” said the CE.

Asked about a recent drop in the number of students at local educational institutions, he said it was a long-term trend and stressing that the decrease was not a temporary situation based on the statistics.

“The Education Bureau is doing a lot to ensure there will be ‘soft landing’ in all regards, so that there will be a smooth transition and changes that will handle the drop in the overall student population.”

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The EDB would be working hand in hand with the education sector so as to ensure that things will work out smoothly, the CE added.