Following a three-year hiatus, AmCham HK visited Washington, DC to meet with members of the US Administration, Congress and think tank experts, as well as the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Washington, DC. Led by AmCham HK’s chairman, Geoffrey C. Siebengartner, managing director and head of government relations & corporate responsibility, Asia Pacific of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the five-person delegation joined with AmChams of Asia Pacific (AAP) which also meets annually with policymakers in the US capital. This was the first time AmCham HK joined forces with AAP and its 50-member delegation. The first two days focused on regional issues in Asia-Pacific, with a third day of separate meetings on Hong Kong-specific issues. On August 24, Mr. Siebengartner and members of the doorknock delegation briefed AmChamHK members in a closed session under Chatham House rules.
Members of the delegation included AmCham HK vice chairman David L. Butts, president, Asia Pacific & group executive vice president at Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd; board members Sally Peng, senior managing director of FTI Consulting, and Mary McHale, APAC director of strategic accounts at Equinix, Inc.; Benjamin Kostrzewa, head of AmCham HK’s trade and investment committee and international trade and regulatory lawyer at Hogan Lovells and AmChamHK director of communications and government affairs, Queenie Tsui.
After the long interruption caused by travel disruption during the Covid-19 pandemic, the delegation had a four-fold mission. First, it was to remind the Washington policy and legislative community of the importance of the US-Hong Kong economic relationship and Hong Kong’s strategic position as a US trading partner (the US had a trade surplus with Hong Kong of $22.5 billion in 2022). Second, Hong Kong is a hub and gateway not just to China but to the rest of the Indo-Pacific region, which may be forgotten within the Beltway. Third, Hong Kong supports a free flow of information, vital to business as it is to civil society. Fourth, the delegates communicated the value of AmCham HK, in its close-up perspective and access both to the Hong Kong government and through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Liaison Office to the government of China.
The delegates found that US-China relations overshadowed Hong Kong and perceptions about Hong Kong inside the Beltway remain negative. The mood in Washington is one of uncertainty, focused on issues that lack a clear outcome, like the war in Ukraine, artificial intelligence (AI), climate change and China. On China, the Biden administration is starting to put together its China policy and gaining confidence, but without a clear endpoint in terms of technology controls. Hong Kong is seen as part of a bigger picture of a very tense US-China relationship.
The delegation encouraged its interlocutors to visit or transit through Hong Kong when traveling to the region, to better understand the on-the-ground business environment. The delegates also conveyed the Chamber’s impression that the Chinese central government supports Hong Kong as a business-friendly city.
The annual Washington DC Doorknock is part of AmCham HK’s advocacy effort to promote business development in Hong Kong and facilitate dialogue between businesses and governments of Hong Kong, US and Mainland China.
AmCham HK’s Washington Doorknock Partner Airline: