HONG KONG (Reuters) – Authorities in Hong Kong and China said a meeting on Thursday brought them closer to a partial reopening of the border between them, as the two governments move on as among the last to world to pursue a zero COVID-19 strategy.

The global financial center has followed Beijing’s lead to implement some of the world’s toughest travel restrictions, in the hopes that this would convince China, its main source of economic growth, to allow some cross-border movement.

Delegations from the two governments met Thursday in the technology hub of Shenzhen.

“Good progress was made at the meeting on exploring the resumption of non-quarantine travel between the mainland and Hong Kong in a gradual and orderly manner,” the government of the former British colony said in a statement.

The Chinese Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Bureau said in a separate statement that the epidemic situation in Hong Kong was “stable and controllable.”

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Cross-border travel is expected to resume next month, subject to a limited quota, the South China Morning Post reported, citing two unnamed sources from the mainland.

In the short term, Hong Kong is to launch its own version of China’s “Health Code” mobile tracking app and prepare border checkpoints for opening, the semi-autonomous city government said. .

Despite virtually no local cases this year and a virtually COVID-19-free environment, Hong Kong has imposed a mandatory hotel quarantine of up to 21 days for arrivals from most countries at the expense of travelers.

International trade lobby groups have warned that Hong Kong could lose talent and investment, as well as competitive ground for competing financial centers such as Singapore, unless it eases its travel restrictions.

The president of the Hong Kong American Chamber of Commerce resigned, saying she could not appeal to authorities to ease COVID-19 restrictions at the same time that she had to self-quarantine.

JPMorgan Chase & Co chief executive Jamie Dimon said the city’s COVID-19 policy made it harder to retain staff.

(Reporting by Marius Zaharia and Josh Horwitz; editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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