From the Commissioner

Dear friends,

First of all, Kung Hey Fat Choi or happy Chinese New Year!

As 2014 came to a close, Hong Kong faced one of the most contentious and divisive chapters of its political development.

After blockading major thoroughfares and government institutions, the 79-day Occupy protest movement ended in mid-December.  While the roads were reopened, we have not yet reached a consensus within our community on how to take forward Hong Kong’s democratic development.

In the more composed post-Occupy environment, our government launched another public consultation that lasted for two months.

We received more than 100,000 submissions during the consultation period which ended March 7.  The consultation was an opportunity for our community to express its views for implementing universal suffrage for the next Chief Executive election in 2017.

Our government will summarize the views collected and aims to release the results in April.

We aim to introduce a resolution in our Legislative Council in the second quarter of this year to amend the method for selecting our next Chief Executive.

We are on the cusp of a historic step in Hong Kong’s democratic development.  If we are successful in obtaining a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council to approve the resolution, we can implement universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election in 2017 – there is no going back.  Five million voters will directly elect our next Chief Executive via “one person, one vote.”  Otherwise, the status quo will carry on; i.e. a committee of 1,200 people determines our next Chief Executive.

On the economic front, our economy achieved 2.3 percent growth last year despite the strong headwinds in the global economy.

We are in a state of full employment with a jobless rate of just 3.2 percent.

Looking ahead we see challenges as slower growth in Mainland China’s economy is expected.  A stronger U.S. dollar will likely put a drag on our trade performance.

In particular, we are monitoring the U.S. Federal Reserve’s plans to normalize interest rates.  The timing and pace of monetary policy normalization will have an impact on us as the Hong Kong dollar is linked to the U.S. dollar.

So, 2015 will be a challenging year.  The Financial Secretary forecasts our real GDP growth at one to three percent this year.

A bright spot remains our strong commercial ties with the United States.

Although Hong Kong is a city of just over 7 million people, we are the 10th largest export market of the U.S.  We bought about US$40 billion worth of “Made in America” goods last year.

In addition, nearly 1,400 U.S. companies continue to manage their local, regional or global operations out of Hong Kong.

With our open markets, free trade policies, business friendly environment and low tax rates, I believe there are huge potentials for strengthening our bilateral relationship and for American companies to do well in our city.

Despite the challenges, Hong Kong presses ahead.  We are, if anything, a spirited community.

In the Year of the Ram, I wish all of you a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Yours sincerely,

Clement Leung

Hong Kong Commissioner to the United States

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HONG KONG ECONOMIC AND TRADE OFFICE IN WASHINGTON D.C.

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