Hong Kong trade official: Missouri exports welcome

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Hong Kong is one of Missouri’s largest export markets and is poised to become an even bigger trade partner in the future.

Gov. Jay Nixon met Friday with Anita Chan, the director of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in New York, to discuss the future of trade between Hong Kong and Missouri. Following her meeting with Nixon, Chan said she was glad to see his initiative in growing Missouri exports through the Export Missouri program and plans to set up a trade office in Hong Kong.

“That means you will have someone designated in Hong Kong to help promote your strengths,” Chan said.

Last year, Missouri exported $151.8 million in goods to Hong Kong, with many of those goods pertaining to medical devices, transportation equipment, computers and agricultural products. 

Hong Kong’s close relationship with China is a plus for smaller businesses looking to break into the Chinese market. Hong Kong is a special administrative region within China. This means Hong Kong is a highly autonomous territory with an independent government, legal system and economy. 

“Especially for smaller companies, it would be quite difficult for them to go to China because, No. 1, it’s a big country, and the system is so different,” Chan said.

Hong Kong’s history of investment in and doing business with China allows foreign companies to establish partnerships in Hong Kong and then expand their business to China.

“It’s a two-way bridge. A lot of Chinese companies use Hong Kong as a platform,” Chan said. With more than 700 companies listed on Hong Kong’s stock exchange, “China uses the system in Hong Kong to invest in other countries.”

As a trade partner with the U.S., it may seem that Hong Kong gets an unfair deal. The U.S. exports more products to Hong Kong than it imports. But Chan said that every time Hong Kong imports or exports something, it benefits their logistics and trading companies. Plus, by pegging its dollar to the U.S. dollar, Hong Kong keeps domestic consumption high.

Hong Kong is a major financial market, as well, with the world’s freest economy, according to the Heritage Foundation, and the sixth-largest stock exchange in the world. This helps companies raise capital and puts other Asian markets in reach for foreign investors and companies. 

“Hong Kong is not just for the big boys. We welcome start-ups; we welcome small businesses. As long as they have a good thing to sell, Hong Kong welcomes them,” Chan said.

Recently, a New York pizza shop opened a restaurant in Hong Kong. Now, business there is doing so well that it has decided to open a second restaurant in Hong Kong.

Chan expects Missouri’s major export industries to remain strong and sees Missouri’s wine market as a huge potential for future trade.

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