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Extended US-China trade war may see Hong Kong employers hold back on hiring

Extended US-China trade war may see Hong Kong employers hold back on hiring

Hong Kong’s strong employment market could take a hit from an extended US-China trade war, headhunters said, as companies watch carefully for any effects stemming from a new round of tariffs implemented last week.

Manufacturing, freight, and re-export businesses are likely to bear the brunt if the two nations are unable to reach a truce, but technology and financial services sectors are expected to remain unscathed, buoyed by government incentives and investment in Greater Bay Area development, the recruiters said.

“In general, most companies will be very cautious in making big investment plans including big numbers of new recruits at the moment. It’s a very, very cautious situation,” said Felix Lee, head of KPMG China’s executive search and recruitment services, noting that the employment outlook for 2019 remains positive.

Hong Kong’s decade-low unemployment rate has so far avoided any ill effects from the trade war, as only a narrow subset of its export businesses have been affected by tariffs since the trade war began last year, according to several recruitment firms.