Hong Kong and Alabama trade ties are bound to grow further given Hong Kong's unique strengths as the gateway between the Mainland and other economies, the Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs, USA, Mr Donald Tong said on June 5 (Alabama time).
Speaking at the first Hong Kong-Alabama Day reception in Montgomery, the state capital, with the distinguished presence of the Governor of the State of Alabama, Mr Robert Bentley, and the Lieutenant Governor, Mr Kay Ivey, Mr Tong said that the state's exports to Hong Kong had increased threefold over the last decade and increased by almost 10 per cent year-on-year in 2011.
The state's main exports to Hong Kong comprise food products, computer and electronic products and non-electrical machinery.
Mr Tong urged Alabama companies to leverage on advantages under the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement and to use Hong Kong's facilities for trade settlement and issuing bonds in Renminbi.
Thanking the Governor for proclaiming June 5, 2012 as Hong Kong-Alabama Day, Mr Tong said it showed Hong Kong and Alabama are strongly committed?to developing stronger economic and trade ties and further facilitating the development of mutually beneficial business relationships.
The reception was hosted by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York and the Alabama-China Partnership at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival Theatre. Around 150 guests including Alabama cabinet officials, state senators and House Representatives, mayors and business dignitaries attended.
Earlier in the day, Mr Tong called on Mr Bentley and met with the Alabama Secretary of Commerce, Mr Greg Canfield. During the meetings, Mr Tong highlighted Hong Kong's unique role as a global financial centre and gateway to China as well as a platform for Mainland companies to go global. As such, Hong Kong can play a key role in helping Alabama reach out to Chinese investors.
"We are very glad that Secretary Canfield will be visiting Hong Kong next week to explore new business opportunities with Hong Kong, and through Hong Kong with the Mainland, and that Governor Bentley is planning to lead a delegation of business leaders to Hong Kong later this year," said Mr Tong.
"The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York, will continue to provide full support and assistance to help ensure that these visits contribute to closer economic partnership and friendship between Alabama and Hong Kong."
In Montgomery, Mr Tong also met with Director of Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel, Mr Lee Sentell, and the Chief Executive Officer of Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), Dr David Bronner. The RSA is a public pension fund with assets in excess of US$24 billion providing benefits for over 325,000 public employees and retirees. The RSA is ranked 117 of all private/public pension funds in the world. He also spoke to a group of 80 university students on Hong Kong's latest developments.
Earlier on June 4, Mr Tong visited Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama, where he met with President and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, Mr Brian Hilson. He also met with the President of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), Mr Bill Taylor. The EDPA is a state-wide organisation that works to attract and retain business and industry in Alabama. Both organisations play a leading role in the promotion of economic development for the region and the state.
In both Birmingham and Montgomery, Mr Tong met with top business executives of leading Alabama firms that have expressed interest in establishing offices in Hong Kong.
In between the student speaking engagement and the evening reception, Mr Tong conducted interviews with local state media and national TV to talk about the role that the Hong Kong Government and business community could play in assisting Alabama companies to explore new business opportunities in and through Hong Kong.
Before leaving Montgomery today (June 6), Mr Tong will have a breakfast meeting with faculty members of Troy University and also meet with the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, Mr Mike Hubbard, and Senate President Pro Tempore, Mr Del Marsh.
Source: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government