The ongoing trade war between China and the US, and the current situation in Hong Kong have deeply impacted Macau’s economy, chief executive candidate Ho Iat Seng said on Tuesday, adding he believed that next year’s situation for the local economy won’t be bright.
Ho attended a Q&A session with representatives of the city’s returned overseas Chinese on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting at the headquarters of the Association of Returned Overseas Chinese Macau in Rua de Sacadura Cabral was attended by 150 representatives of various overseas Chinese organisations.
A total of 15 participants asked Ho questions during the seminar focusing on issues such as housing, the economy, medical care, human resources and smart city development.
Youth Association of Returned Overseas Chinese Macau board member Lo Siu Chung, who works in the engineering sector, asked about the impact of the China-US trade war and the current Hong Kong situation on Macau, as well as the city’s urban renewal plans.
Ho noted that the US presidential election will be held next year, adding that he expected the escalating trade war between China and the US to continue. At the same time, Hong Kong’s current situation could further dampen economic growth in Macau, Ho pointed out.
Ho underlined that the city’s economy has already been hit by the trade war and the Hong Kong situation, resulting in negative growth in the first half of the year. He forecast that the economic downturn will continue in the second half of the year.
“The economic situation will not be bright next year, so we need to focus more on our local market in order to maintain the city’s development and ensure employment. For example, China has put a lot of effort into developing highways and high-speed railways during previous financial crisis. Conversely, China has focused on developing its export industry during the period of economic prosperity,” Ho noted.
Ho went on to say that one of the government’s functions is economic regulation and control, adding that next year will be the “golden time” for the city’s construction sector.
“When the city’s economic growth slows down, it’s the time to prepare ourselves well. We will do more on the city’s infrastructure and the urban development next year. Macau has more than 5,000 old buildings, our Macau Urban Renewal Limited needs to do more in the near future,” Ho said.
Macau Urban Renewal Limited is a newly-established company fully owned by the government. The firm works on the preservation of old and dilapidated buildings, safety conditions of existing buildings and the development of urban facilities on land reclaimed from the sea.
Ho acknowledged that some people have complained that his election campaign platform lacks new ideas. He underlined that the next government must follow up on the previous government’s plans so it was hard to have too many new ideas in his political programme.
“The Macau government must keep its promises and its public governance must be coherent beyond the chief executive changes. I can’t discard those promises otherwise Macau will be a mess. The next government must complete, improve and strengthen the previous government’s unfinished work,” Ho said.
The next government will be sworn in on December 20. The chief executive election is slated for August 25. As Ho is the only candidate, his election is a foregone conclusion.
Meanwhile, when a participant asked about Macau’s smart city development, Ho said that he was not fully aware of the current development progress, adding that the development of the smart city concept involved many laws and personal data. According to the Macau Post Daily, he said the concept needed to be developed step by step.