HK opens the door to China

10-Dec-2016 Intellasia | Tallahassee | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Florida shipped more than $2.5 billion worth of goods last year to Hong Kong. The semi-autonomous region of China is looking to do more business with the Sunshine State.

Hong Kong’s trade representative came to Tallahassee Wednesday looking for business.

In meetings around the capital city with business and political leaders, Steve Barclay explained Hong Kong is the doorway to China and he’s holding it wide open for Florida companies.

Barclay is British and has spent 37 years in Hong Kong. He is not a diplomat of a sovereign nation but the trade representative of a semi-autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China.

“Everything related to Hong Kong and mainland China is complex,” Barclay explained when asked about recent US and China posturing over Taiwan. “We do the overseas economic and trade representation but we don’t do foreign and diplomatic policy. That is the domain of the People’s Republic.”

With that caveat, we had four questions for Steve Barclay, director of Hong Kong’s New York-based Economic & Trade Office after he emerged from a meeting with Gov. Rick Scott.

What does the future of the business relationship between the US and Hong Kong look like with the election of Donald Trump as US President?

There is much potential for growth. Hong Kong is not a manufacturing centre anymore. Hong Kong is not an agricultural or fishery centre. We are a services economy. In other words, we do not manufacture anything we consume. We don’t grow or capture anything we eat. Everything we need to survive we import.

We have no trade restrictions on goods from other countries. We levy duties only four products – tobacco, fuel oil, motor vehicles, and alcoholic spirits, not wine, not beer, only spirits. We are the world’s free trader. The door is open to Floridian products.

There is resistance to free trade in the US You talk as if free trade is a win – win situation. How do you persuade people to your point of view?

I think some people in the US denigrated international trade because they believe the US got a bad deal and that American jobs have been lost as a result. I can’t comment on other countries but what I can say is Americans and Floridians have not lost one manufacturing job to Hong Kong because we don’t manufacture anything.

And, we are also a great shop window. Mainland Chinese look to Hong Kong as a trendsetter. If something sells in Hong Kong the chances are it will do well in mainland China – and that market is much bigger.

How does Florida sell more stuff in Hong Kong?

Well, I just had a meeting with your Governor and he asked me the same question. Floridian businesses have got to put themselves in front of potential customers in Hong Kong. We discussed how we could best get Florida food growers, processors and computer manufacturers to see the opportunities that exist in and through Hong Kong to the Chinese market.

In China, there has been a series of scandals about tainted products, baby food, shampoo, cosmetics. The new middle-class Chinese consumer will pay a premium for a product from a market that is clean, green and has a reputation for good regulations.

The Chinese system and the American political and regulatory system are very different. Though American companies may want access to the Chinese market how do you address their concerns about operating in a different, civil, political and judicial system? This is where you use Hong Kong. Chinese businesses are a bit mistrustful of international regimes they don’t understand. American businesses are a bit distrustful of what the regime is in mainland China. But both know and trust the system in Hong Kong. That is where we have a huge role to play. We have a common law legal system, intellectual property protection, an independent judiciary, low level of corruption, a highly respected arbitration system and we have a business class familiar with the West and connected in mainland China.

www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2016/12/08/hong-kong-opens-door-china/95140016/

 


Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post

Comments are closed.