The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) said the city should reopen its borders as soon as possible to tackle its brain drain.
The chamber warned earlier that the SAR is facing an exodus of skilled professionals – mainly engineers, accountants and IT workers – on a scale not seen since the early 1990s, following a survey conducted in January that involved 220 firms.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the group's annual general meeting on Friday, HKGCC chairman Peter Wong said tough travel restrictions have weakened the city's attractiveness.
"As far as Hong Kong opening borders to the international arena is concerned, I think that we should open as quickly as possible," Wong said.
"We have experienced some loss of talents from the various sectors. It has been reported to the chamber and under our survey that we saw some loss of talents. I hope that the borders can reopen quickly and Hong Kong is still a very vibrant place for business. The sooner that we can open, the better it is going to be."
Wong also said the chamber has told Chief Executive-elect John Lee that it wants Hong Kong to reopen its border with the mainland as soon as possible.
On the revised full-year economic growth forecast from 2 to 3.5 percent to 1 to 2 percent, the business group's CEO, George Leung, described the downgrade as "quite appropriate".
The chamber has earlier lowered its local GDP forecast to 1.2 percent for the year when the fifth Covid wave hit the SAR.
With the economy shrinking 4 percent in the first quarter of 2022, Leung said he expected a contraction in the second quarter as well, but he expressed optimism on the way forward.
"Following the relaxation of social restrictions, I hope that there would be some rebound in economic activities in the second half of the year, so it would end up with somewhat a very mild increase throughout the year," Leung said.
"I hope by 2023, we hopefully if there's no more further, another round of pandemic, we would positively see a stronger positive growth."