CHAMBER NEWS: Five Minutes with… Agnes Tsang


AmCham’s Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs explains the significance of the upcoming annual Washington Doorknock and describes her crucial role at the Chamber

By Jennifer Khoo

Tell us a little about your role at AmCham.

Externally, this role covers relations with government stakeholders in HK, the U.S. and sometimes the Asia Pacific region; developing advocacy agendas for the Chamber, handling media relations, and producing policy submissions and press releases. Apart from organizing meetings, we also take delegations to the U.S. and other Asian countries.

Internally, Government Relations and Public Affairs is also the Secretariat of the AmCham Board of Governors and the Secretariat of the Board of Trustees for our Charitable Foundation.

What is the Washington Doorknock and why is it important?

The Washington Doorknock is an annual AmCham tradition of bringing Asia-based American and international business perspectives back to Washington D.C. to emphasize the importance of the U.S.' presence and engagement in Asia. The delegation usually consists of core AmCham members and industry experts who get the chance to meet with leading think tanks, as well as staffers and representatives from the U.S. Administration and Congress.

The “soft” power of American presence and influence in the Asia Pacific region is no less important than the United States’ “hard” power, and many businesses here proudly see themselves as ambassadors for American values and best practices. Face-to-face interaction is always the best way to communicate candid views and exchange different perspectives. To this end, the annual Doorknock provides an excellent platform upon which senior American executives can voice their views to decision makers back home.

What are three top issues that AmCham hopes to address in Washington this year?

1) Hong Kong's unique role and strengths in U.S.-China relations and trade under One Country, Two Systems;

2) U.S. competitiveness overseas in relation to double taxation; and

3) Getting an on-the-ground view of the U.S.' trade position in this region post-TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership)

A lot of planning and preparation goes into the annual Doorknock to ensure its success. Could you share some of your to-do list with us?

This year, we have an exciting event taking place during our Doorknock trip - a symposium to reflect on the "One Country, Two Systems" and to mark the 20th anniversary of the HKSAR. The symposium, co-hosted by AmCham and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and supported by the Hong Kong Trade and Economic Office in Washington, will be broadcasted via a live webcast so that viewers in Hong Kong can also tune in. U.S. Consul General Kurt Tong will deliver a keynote address during the event.

With a new U.S. Administration and hundreds of government appointments still being confirmed, we have encountered a few more challenges than in previous years in scheduling some of the meetings.

Finally, what is your advice to anyone considering a career in government relations?

This job is a hectic one with few breaks, as you are in constant communication with key stakeholders to foster relations on behalf of the Chamber. You can't miss emails or delay in response as everyone is important, from members internally to government officials externally. Their perceptions about the Chamber are down to what they see and experience of us. Fortunately, I have a SUPER team - Queenie and Dannio - and some very dedicated and smart interns from Hong Kong and the U.S. It is my wish to groom these students to become future young AmCham ambassadors.