Helping US-Hong Kong links

Updated: 2014-08-26 04:27

By Amy He in New York(China Daily USA)

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With a rebounding US economy, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council wants to make sure it can do its part to strengthen US-Hong Kong trade relations by helping small- and medium-sized enterprises expand into Asia, it says.

"We're hoping that more US companies will use Hong Kong as a platform to conduct more business," said Ralph Chow, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's (HKTDC) regional director of the Americas.

"About 99 percent of US small- and medium-sized businesses don't export their goods. That means only 1 percent does exports, and we want that number to grow," he said. "There's a lot of space for us to expand our services in, and there are a lot of small US companies that provide the goods and services that Asia needs. Collaborative opportunities are vast."

Chow is HKTDC's newest regional director for the Americas, having previously been director of product promotion at the main office in Hong Kong before moving to New York in July.

He said that HKTDC wants to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the US grow their exports sector so that a better balance of trade can be achieved.

The US is Hong Kong's second-largest export market, with Hong Kong exporting $42.5 billion in 2013. The US is Hong Kong's fifth-largest import market, importing $28.2 billion the same year, according to figures from the HKTDC.

Established in 1966 with three offices in the US — New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles — the HKTDC is a semi-government-funded not-for-profit that helps SMEs establish a foothold in Asia via distribution and business expansion, and Asian investors find investment matches in the US.

"We're at the frontline, working very closely with individual businesses on their day-to-day operations, especially when it comes to their business venture in Asia," Anthony Mak, HKTDC's regional director of New York, told China Daily. "A lot of them lack the resources, they lack a marketing budget or international presence — unlike the Fortune 500 companies that need no particular assistance from any external parties, because they're already very resourceful."

The HKTDC helps companies build their brand and brand their products, highlighting them to the Asian audience. The council holds trade fairs and trade missions globally to help businesses network. In September, the HKTDC will be bringing over 40 investors from China who are looking for investment opportunities in the green technology sector in the US. The group will visit Toronto, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles over 10 days.

"When it comes to cross-border investment, there are a lot of services required before conducting the investment — including due diligence, risk assessment and making sure of compliance requirements," Mak said. "All of this can be done via Hong Kong because we have an abundance of all these professional service firms. We want them — Chinese corporate investors — to partner with these firms from Hong Kong when it comes to investing in America."

China's economy is not growing as fast as it once was, but the region is still a huge draw for companies looking to grow in Asia, Mak said.

China is still one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, and not only can HKDTC help businesses expand there, it can help companies expand into other emerging markets in Asia as well, such as Vietnam, Myanmar, and Indonesia, he added.

"We reach out to businesses to let them know that Asia is too big a market to miss. We want to have this idea implanted into their minds," Mak said, "so that when it comes to their eventual business expansion, we stand ready to help them."


Helping US-Hong Kong links
Anthony Mak, left, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) director of New York, and Ralph Chow, HKTDC regional director of the Americas, greet the press. The HKTDC helps small and medium-sized enterprises find trade opportunities in Asia through Hong Kong. AMY HE / CHINA DAILY