President’s memo

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Swirling U.S.-China trade tensions have several times been compared to an oncoming typhoon; no one quite knows how strong it will be, or how much damage the winds will leave in their wake.

So far, I have been hearing similar reports about U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods and their impact on Hong Kong, though the heavy addition of US$200 billion could be measured as similar in strength to Hong Kong’s recent experience with typhoon Mangkhut.

AmCham Hong Kong has over 20 committees representing a variety of sectors, ranging from logistics to financial services to education. It’s hard to draw a single, unified view on how the typhoon-like trade war will affect business. However, the general view across sectors is that tariffs will have a negative impact on companies doing business in China and in Hong Kong.

There is also a growing wariness that business challenges will increase, not decrease, in the coming year.

While members are not pulling out of China deals, they are starting to notice a slowdown in approvals, including of pending licenses, and an up-swing in non-tariff barriers. In certain sectors these non-tariff barriers may include visa approvals, employee and business documentation approvals, and product approvals.

From a Hong Kong perspective, however, now is also a crucial time to hone this city’s unique position as an international hub with a longstanding and strong trade and economic partnership with the United States and American companies. There is no more important time to value that partnership and see how the chamber and Hong Kong can work together to keep it alive and well in these turbulent waters.