How Trump’s China Policies will affect Hong Kong Jobs

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Last week, an executive at a large conglomerate discussed with me their thoughts on how Donald Trump’s successful nomination would impact their business environment and the hiring taking place within it.

I’ve been pondering this subject since the final college electoral votes came in to seal the destiny of the USA for the next four years. We’ll no doubt see immediate impacts to the US labour economy and although it may be too early to tell, Hong Kong Jobs could be subject to some major changes.

Donald Trump is a major wild card. Some theorists have stated that his only reason for acting in such a ludicrous manner at times was simply to win. In fact, it may have been the only way he could win. Since he’s been elected we’ve seen financial markets react rather unpredictably – instantly negative, then in fact tracking rather positively. Whilst everyone holds their breath as Trump’s administration begins to unfold itself, I think it would be great to start a discussion as to how Trump’s China policies will affect Hong Kong jobs.

Of all of Trump’s policy positions, it is perhaps his stance on trade with China which is the most concerning economically. He has long accused the Chinese administration of currency manipulation – the weakening of the Yuan that has helped to fuel the export power house to a trade surplus of 40% with the US. Combine this with Trump’s theme of job creation at home, and Hong Kong might begin see a difficult time ahead. If the 400+ Billion USD in exports from China to the US starts to hit intensive trade barriers, then many of us employed in Hong Kong might see jobs go as a result. We’ve already seen a diminishing job market in Hong Kong’s industrial, manufacturing and supply chain sectors in the past decade and a tighter stance from Trump on the US trade policy with China could see a negative ripple effect to Hong Kong’s traditionally steady labour market.

Hong Kong’s geographic advantage has for a long time been the reason why US companies have chosen the city as a base from which to conduct business in Asia – especially those with a focus on China. The ease of doing business here as well as our strong talent pool has been very positive for the Hong Kong jobs market and if we do see trade barriers imposed on China then US companies will likely need to scale back their operations in Hong Kong.

In a more positive scenario we could see more jobs return to Hong Kong. In recent times we’ve seen job losses to some free trade zones in China such as Shenzhen and Shanghai as international employers seek to develop stronger business ties with the nation. With an aggressive stance from Trump, we may see US companies forced to reduce or withdraw operations from inside China. U.S. companies will no-doubt still want to tap in to the world’s largest and hungriest consumer market and running their Chinese businesses from here might be the most suitable option going forward creating a positive result for Hong Kong jobs.

One of the worst side effects of the US election is the endless speculation. When America moves, the world watches, much the same way as when Donald Trump’s toupee blows in the wind we’re all on edge to see whether it is in fact a toupee. Uncertainty hinders forward progress. In the employment world this usually translates to the freezing of hiring budgets. As pollsters now know, it really is impossible to predict the future. However it is fairly obvious that many employers globally are concerned about what February of 2017 and beyond has to bring. Whether this is a step into the abyss, or the break of a new dawn, only time will tell!

How do you think Hong Kong’s labour market will be affected by the Trump administration?

 

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