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In a presentation to Fox School of Business MBA students and staff, Hong Kong’s commissioner for economic and trade affairs emphasized Hong Kong’s many business ties to the U.S. and the ease of doing business with Asia’s world city.
Donald Tong, who directs the Hong Kong government’s efforts in promoting U.S.-Hong Kong trade ties and constituency-building activities in the U.S., described Hong Kong as a “global business platform” that cherishes its autonomy from mainland China but works closely with it, respects civil liberties and strongly believes in free trade.
Tong’s Jan. 30 presentation highlighted the many organizations that have recognized Hong Kong’s global status as a model economy. The island ranks first on the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index, and the International Institute for Management Development ranks its economy as the most competitive in the world. Investors seem to agree, as Hong Kong is the world’s fourth largest recipient of foreign direct investment.
Much of Hong Kong’s success can be attributed to the institutions it adopted while
administered by Great Britain. Even after responsibility for the island-metropolis was passed from Britain to China in 1997, Hong Kong maintained British-style civil liberties, an independent judiciary and its own currency, which has been pegged to the U.S. dollar since 1983.
Importantly, Hong Kong has also maintained its own economic policies. Independent monetary policy and trade agreements have allowed the island to uphold its core principals of free trade, simple taxes, diligent protection of intellectual property and clean government. Hong Kong displays the efficacy of its governance by its 3.3 percent unemployment rate and GDP growth rates of 7 percent in 2010 and 5 percent in 2011.
While Hong Kong essentially operates independently of China under the “one country, two systems” principle, Tong said Hong Kong serves as a critical two-way gateway to China, helping overseas companies access the mainland market and assisting mainland companies to go global.
During a post-presentation interview, Tong reinforced his message of building even stronger ties to the U.S., particularly in the Keystone State. “Pennsylvania is a big economy, lots of talented people, lots of colleges,” he said. “We believe there’s a lot we can do together, be it R&D or helping colleges to help students seek jobs in Hong Kong.”
Tong joined the Hong Kong civil service in 1983 and assumed his current position in 2008. As commissioner, he oversees the three Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices in Washington, New York and San Francisco.
Anita Chan, director of the New York office, has also presented to Fox MBAs. Gregory DeShields, managing director of business development for Fox and its affiliate School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, organized both visits.
Corinne Snell, executive director of the Fox School’s Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD), said Chan’s and Tong’s presentations “are two examples of the many ways in which the Fox MBA program prepares leaders for the global economy.”