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Hong Kong – Foreign labour controls may be loosened

21 January 2014

Chief Executive and President of the Executive Council of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying has dropped what trade union leaders see as the strongest hint yet that controls on imported overseas labour may be relaxed in a bid to ease the city’s worker shortage, reports the South China Morning Post.

Mr Leung took to his blog to call on citizens to be aware of the shortage as unemployment continues to fall. He wrote that the government would: “Continue to develop the city’s economy, including industries that need new blood from the grass-roots labour force, to provide more employment opportunities.”

However, Mr Leung added that it was impossible for the city’s workforce to keep growing. “Even though the government has been providing incentives for people to help themselves through employment, we have to notice that it is unlikely for the city to enlarge its labour force as we did in the past.”

He supported his argument using the unemployment data released yesterday, which showed a rate of 3.2% for the three months from October to December last year, down -0.1 percentage points on the three-month period that ended in November. The city’s workforce now numbers 3,760,400, a record high.

“The shortage of labour and land will be the two major factors hindering economic development. To keep the growth ... we have to take notice of the problem,” Mr Leung wrote.

Commenting separately on the unemployment figures, Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said his department had recorded 1.2 million private sector vacancies last year, an all-time high and a +6.3% increase compared with 2012.

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