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No exodus of US capital from HK: AmCham chairwoman

2021-01-22 HKT 15:01
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  • No exodus of US capital from HK: AmCham chairwoman
The new chairwoman of the American Chamber of Commerce, Jessica Bartlett, said on Friday that she does not anticipate there will be a mass exodus of US capital from Hong Kong due to the implementation of the national security law last year.

Bartlett made the comment during a social media live stream, where she outlined AmCham's priorities for the coming year.

In her opening remarks, she said the SAR was currently at what she called “an inflection point” and that the political developments of the last two years have challenged the reputation of Hong Kong as a place that's “open for business”.

"We have to recognise those challenges and monitor the political and legal environment closely," she said, as she called on private enterprises to continue to advocate for a Hong Kong that is "globally and regionally relevant", and that still adheres to values such as free trade, rule of law, responsible business and a free flow of information.

When asked about whether or not she foresees an exodus of American capital from the SAR following the implementation of the national security law, she said: "There's not an all-in or an all-out".

Bartlett referred to AmCham’s business outlook survey for 2021, which found that more than half of those polled were cautiously optimistic that the business environment will be better in Hong Kong this year, but that some were concerned about the SAR’s future as a major business hub.

However, she said that while all businesses are constantly evaluating what their strategies are for the mainland, Hong Kong, and the Asia Pacific region, there has not been a mass exit of businesses.

"With some exceptions, so far we haven't seen mass exits. I think we've seen a lot of investors that remain very keen to be in Asia and to be in Hong Kong. They still have a lot of confidence in the Hong Kong market and that's a place they want to continue to invest," she said.

"They see this region as a growth region as compared to other regions in the economy, those fundamentals aren't changing."

Bartlett also sounded an optimistic tone on US-China relations under the Joe Biden administration, and said a top priotity for AmCham will be to build new relations with Washington DC as well as strengthen old ones.

She said she doesn’t anticipate an immediate relaxation of US sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on mainland companies in the near term.

But she said the Biden administration should look at making adjustments, especially how the programme of sanctions is implemented given the challenges the private sector and US government are facing.

"Usually in the sanctions world, a sanctions programme lasts for a long time, it's not like an on-and-off switch," she said.

Bartlett said a review of those sanctions by Treasury Secretary-designate Janet Yellen could take three to six months, and that the best they can hope for is "micro changes".