Amcham weighs in on Hong Kong

The American Chamber of Commerce has released a thoughtful, in-depth position paper on the situation in Hong Kong, which it has presented for CE Carrie Lam’s consideration, ahead of her Policy Speech, scheduled for next month. 

At 16 pages, in small type, it’s not a quick read. Nevertheless, its detail is impressive, with concrete, specific recommendations across many sectors of the economy and society.

The tone is what impresses us the most, however. We can’t remember a US business group decrying the problems of adopting a laissez-faire mindset in economic management. Then again, perhaps we have been numbed by tweets coming from the White House these past few years. But try this on for size:

“Given the additional headwinds from US-China trade tensions and a global slowdown, adhering to a laissez-faire mindset will undermine Hong Kong’s unique position and long-term economic viability. AmCham feels the Hong Kong government should make a priority of strengthening its governance and working more closely with the private sector to reduce bureaucratic disconnects and the departmental, siloed mindset, as well as to devise tangible measures to restore business confidence and rebuild Hong Kong’s reputation as a global hub for trade and investment.”

That doesn’t even remotely sound like what we have come to expect from US representatives of late. It is no doubt because this is the work of business representatives based here, rather than trade negotiators in Washington. But still, it’s refreshing.

The cover page of the document sums up its contents as follows: 

Review governance style to include private sector’s input for effective policy formulation that meets Hong Kong’s economic development needs. 

Restore international and business confidence by acknowledging the pressing need for effective public communication strategies and stakeholder engagement. 

Rebuild and promote robust public-private partnership in policy initiation, formulation and execution, tapping private sector and community wisdom to address needs precisely and minimize red tape.

Read the full document. It is well worth the time.

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