Protests and civil unrest in Hong Kong have affected the normal routine. Yes, I realize this is what protests are meant to do. However, as an exporter to Hong Kong, what does the U.S. agriculture industry need to know about the effects these protests are having on markets and consumers? The U.S. Meat Export Federation’s (USMEF) Senior Vice President for the Asia Pacific Joel Haggard talks about what is going on.
Joel Haggard is a longtime resident of Hong Kong. He highlights the disruption that protests have been able to achieve. Haggard says the protests are localized. However, when you can cause a disruption in one area of the city, you can paralyze a larger area.
What does this mean for the economy in Hong Kong? Haggard talks about the fact that Hong Kong is in a technical recession. There has been a 30-50% revenue drop in the hotel, restaurant, and institutional (HRI) sector. He says rent for space is coming down. This would be good; except they have no customers.
Haggard says, despite the decline of activity in the main tourist areas, local neighborhood shops are doing well. Haggard says this is because nobody is wanting to venture further from home than they have to.
Haggard says while these protests have affected the meat trade, it isn’t the only factor. He cites the decline in the ability of Hong Kong traders to re-export products and the impact of African Swine Fever. Haggard says shipments of pork from mainland China have dropped dramatically.
Hong Kong has political and economic issues to work out. Each one of them seems to compound the effects of the others. The damage to meat exports to the city has been minimal, but there is still a ripple effect being felt.