New Zealand’s “Auckland Programme” Could Be a Loss of Talent

Hong Kong offers new visa to woo talent amid brain drain – but some fear backlash

For those interested in a new visa program for foreign recruits, there’s a choice to be made.

It’s called the “Auckland Programme”. It offers a path to permanent residency for foreigners who join one of three major financial centres: New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

New Zealand is the most popular destination, but Hong Kong and Singapore have attracted big-name talent in recent years, while Singapore has its own unique visa program for young professionals moving to the city-state.

Hong Kong has its own version of these programs as well, but it allows entry of professionals from countries with fewer restrictions on who can apply for visas — even people who have arrived in Hong Kong before 2010.

Hong Kong was one of the first countries in Asia to sign up to the New Zealand program, which now allows most foreigners to obtain residency in just one year.

Many of those who go on to work in Hong Kong are attracted to the city’s business scene and the prospect of being a permanent resident.

But some say the program has created a “brain drain” and could mean a loss of talent to other parts of the world.

Auckland, New Zealand’s economic powerhouse, offers most of the same financial benefits as other parts of the world. But it can’t compete on scale.

Auckland alone has more than 1,000 financial companies and a network of more than 500 small specialist banks, offering savings, lending and trading services. Its population exceeds 2.3 million, yet it receives just 2,500 people a year to fill vacancies in its specialist industries.

Hong Kong has similar companies. It has more than 1,000 financial and insurance firms, more than half of them publicly listed. The city has an average of 1,200 new appointments a year to the services sector.

There are 1,100 financial and insurance companies in Singapore, of which 300 employ more than 1,000 people each.

More than a million people are working in Hong Kong’s manufacturing sector.

“Auckland, New Zealand’s economic powerhouse, offers most of the same financial benefits as other parts of the world, but it can’t compete on scale,” said Dr. Alan Leong

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