Chinese New Year’s reception - Renwick Gallery of Art

Remarks by Sylvester Wong
Director, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
Renwick Gallery of Art
January 27, 2023

Thank you for joining us as we usher in the Year of the Rabbit. Happy New Year, Kung Hei Fat Choi and Gong Xi Fa Cai! During this festive season, we come together to exchange greetings and reinforce bonds of friendship. I am delighted to see so many familiar faces and to welcome new friends.

I’ll start by sharing with you some encouraging developments in Hong Kong around the New Year. Hong Kong has removed virtually all pandemic control measures. There are no mandatory quarantine requirements. Visitors fulfilling the vaccination requirement can freely enjoy the city.

Illustrating the city’s reopening, in November we hosted three major events: the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit, Hong Kong Fintech Week, and the Rugby Sevens. The response to the first Hong Kong Sevens in over three years was particularly boisterous, with over 65,000 charged spectators.

But it is not just Hong Kong reopening its doors to the world; the city is also venturing out. In September, in this very room, a quartet of renowned musicians from Hong Kong embraced a quintessential American art form: jazz – or as the late Dr. Billy Taylor described it, “America’s classical music.”

And this month Hong Kong Ballet kicked off its US tour with an adaptation of “Romeo + Juliet” with a full house at New York City Center, followed by performances at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Some of you may know that Hong Kong Ballet’s artistic director, Septime Webre, previously served as artistic director for The Washington Ballet and Halcyon. Both of these performances personify Hong Kong’s unique bonds to the US.

It is through a shared appreciation of the arts that Hong Kong appointed Dr Tan Dun, dean of the Bard College Conservatory of Music in New York, as our new Ambassador for Cultural Promotion. Dr Tan will elevate Hong Kong as the East-meets-West epicenter for international cultural exchange.

The US and Hong Kong enjoy mutually beneficial economic ties. In 2021, US exports to Hong Kong reversed a four-year downward trend, with exports totaling US$30 billion, a 25.6% (US$6.1 billion) increase from 2020. In the first 11 months of 2022, US goods exports to Hong Kong totaled nearly $24 billion. Among its trading partners, the US enjoys one of its highest trade surpluses with Hong Kong, nearly $20 billion up to Nov 2022.

Hong Kong people love to wine and dine, and this is reflected in our trade figures with the US. In 2021, Hong Kong was the US’s 4th largest single market for wine exports, 7th largest market for beef products, and 14th largest market for agricultural products.

Over 1,300 American companies operate in our city. US nationals also represent one of the most significant foreign presences, with about 70,000 Americans residents.

In addition, the US remains one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment. US FDI in 2021 was nearly $87 billion.

With its high degree of connectivity, free market credentials, strategic location, advanced infrastructure and world-class talent, Hong Kong is a place where American companies can capitalize on market opportunities throughout our region. Our Invest Hong Kong teams in New York and San Francisco help American companies do just that. They offer free advice and customized services, from the planning stage right through to the launch and expansion of their business. Companies as diverse as a San Francisco-headquartered payroll solution startup to Boston-based global investment firm Cambridge Associates have leveraged Hong Kong’s comparative advantages.

The Year of the Rabbit radiates with positive energy. In Chinese culture, the rabbit is a symbol of liveliness, peace and prosperity. We hope that we can continue to count on the support of friends to enrich people-to-people exchanges.