Hong Kong – January 22, 2021 – The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham)’s new Chairman Jessica Bartlett delivered her inaugural remarks today highlighting the Chamber’s priorities for 2021 and underscoring American and multinational businesses’ presence in shaping the future of Hong Kong and the Asia region.
“After the last few years, Hong Kong is at an inflection point, but there is a choice about what the future looks like. I believe that there is a significant and constructive role that the Chamber, private enterprise, and American and multinational businesses can play in shaping that future as one that cements Hong Kong’s unique role in the global economy, in the Asia region, in respect of Greater China, and locally, for each of the individuals who call this city home,” Bartlett said.
“The most important thing we can do is to act and to do so in a way that moves forward constructively. And by that I mean, in a way that reflects our Chamber values, which are just as relevant today – the values of private enterprise, free trade, rule of law, ethical and responsible business practices and transparency and free flow of information,” she added.
“During this time of inflection, to move Hong Kong forward, our priorities for this year of 2021, should be guided by the values that have and continue to support and promote American businesses thriving in Hong Kong for now and in the future.”
US Consul General Hanscom Smith attended the inaugural and spoke about the importance of government-business dialogue in the current period of great uncertainty. “Every US business here plays a key role in demonstrating US business values and practices. In the current environment, close coordination and good communication between government and business is more important than ever,” he said.
Under Bartlett’s leadership, in 2021, AmCham will provide thought leadership on the following priorities laid out today:
AmCham will continue to actively participate in conversations with its members, Government and key stakeholders on business recovery from the pandemic.
“A particularly challenging and important topic for international business – getting employees on the road again, whether for business or personal reasons – is an urgent need to address. I think we need to think critically about our advocacy here – where can business propose to add value. What efforts should we support, and where do we need to bring a critical eye to ensure policy is calibrated to address the risk but keep the Hong Kong economy going as much as possible,” said Bartlett.
“Although it is very early days, our current read of the Administration is that it will view the relationship with China as one marked by competition and cooperation. It will be more important than ever that the Chamber represent the American business community to provide the new Administration and officials with key insights and facts on the ground and to advocate for U.S. and multinational companies when policies are having negative and/or unintended consequences,” said Bartlett.
Future of Hong Kong
Bartlett emphasized that AmCham’s focus would be on building a Hong Kong for the future, and enabling private enterprise to be a constructive voice and source of support.
“We have to recognize those challenges and monitor the political and legal environment closely. Complimenting that, private enterprise needs to advocate for a Hong Kong that is globally and regionally relevant, and continues to adhere to the values that have driven this city to success – values the Chamber very much shares, free trade, rule of law, responsible business, free flow of information,” she noted.
Situated in a hub of legal and business intelligence, AmCham will leverage its members’ expertise to identify resources and awareness for risk management.
The New World of Work
As COVID has pushed businesses to adopt new approaches to work dynamically and remotely, AmCham will provide thought leadership on dealing with workplace challenges and building a sustainable employment environment.
“There are lots of opportunities here to advocate for positive, long-term change,” said Bartlett. “But again, that won’t happen by accident. Transforming the way we work also means facing new challenges to diversity and inclusion, identifying opportunities for employees, mobility, retention/recruitment, etc.,” she added.
“What we term AmCham 2.0, as the future of work changes, so does the Chamber. Quite a lot of hard work and sweat has been expended to transform the Chamber for the digital age, and the COVID age. We can build on that hard work to reap the advantages,” said Bartlett.
This year’s inaugural was held in a virtual format, with over 200 Chamber members and members of the public participated live on Facebook.
For full text of Chairman’s remarks: click here.