AmCham President’s Takeaways from Recent Visit to Washington, DC

Tara Joseph, AmCham President

When it comes to US-Hong Kong relations, the last few years have been both intense and challenging from a chamber perspective. As business leaders, US-China friction has affected us after decades of cooperation and friendly open dialogue with the Hong Kong government. Hong Kong has been a sweet spot for multinational Companies, SMEs business executives and their families and employees. Now we are experiencing a new, and sometimes, uncertain normal. 

I have worked in the US over the past few months, holding meetings and discussions with officials and interlocutors to share the Chamber’s view on Hong Kong’s crucial role as a business hub. I have also sought to understand how the US government views Hong Kong, in order to better serve our membership.

The last few months have been busy and sometimes head spinning. I have met with congressmen, senators, administration officials, think tank experts and academics*. All of them speak with respect and admiration for the business community in Hong Kong, but worry about future challenges given political shifts. Many people I met have visited or lived in Hong Kong/China in years gone by, and express a deep love and past admiration for the city we call home.  

Hong Kong has been experiencing profound changes, but business remains brisk in several key sectors

Many people are wrestling with adapting to changes in Hong Kong and the deepening US-China rift. Some individuals are finding the changes in Hong Kong painful from a personal perspective, others are more sanguine and optimistic, though draconian quarantine measure have added to a negative tone. From the Chamber’s viewpoint, Hong Kong remains a key business hub. US-China tensions are a crucial issue and businesses are measuring rising risks. 

I also asked that Hong Kong people should be remembered and welcomed in the US as a key talent pool. We have lost crucial educational and exchange programs through COVID-19 and political changes, and it is not helpful for youth and talent.

Finally, I mentioned that a form of TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) would be tremendously helpful for business throughout Asia. 

Takeaways from discussions

  • Hong Kong still remains high on the radar for the Biden administration and as part of US-China friction and along with human rights concerns. 
  • None of the people I met expect US/China/Hong Kong relations to significantly improve in the near or medium term. 
  • Administration officials are trying to assess whether Hong Kong can maintain its strength as a financial centre in light of recent political changes. They are also keenly watching supply chain changes in trade.

AmCham and its role

AmCham surveys were frequently mentioned as highly useful and closely read. Our Chamber continues to be recognised as an important resource. Lawmakers feel frustrated that they have not been able to travel due to COVID-19, and also hope if they will be allowed to enter Hong Kong to restart dialogue. 

As Chamber President it is my role to serve you and our collective views. Please feel free to contact me. I am always keen to engage with you!

* Here’s the list of interlocutors I have met:

  • State Department
  • National Security Council
  • US Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Treasury Department
  • Commerce Department
  • 2 Senators
  • 3 Representatives
  • Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Washington, DC
  • US-China Business Council
  • CSIS
  • US Chamber of Commerce
  • Former Administration officials
  • Corporate members based in Washington, DC