Hong Kong is on course to assist 250 foreign companies to set up or expand operations in the city this year despite an increasingly difficult economic environment, InvestHK director-general Mike Rowse said. 'If the US economy is weak or has negative growth, then the world economy is going to be affected. Even if China is growing at 8 per cent or 9 per cent, this is not going to offset a serious fall in the US economy, if one occurs,' Mr Rowse said. 'But Hong Kong's economy is still enjoying reasonable growth.' InvestHK completed 148 projects in the first half, just one more than recorded a year ago, but they represented the creation of about 4,800 jobs over the next two years, down from about 5,300 jobs last year. InvestHK completed 253 projects in 2007 and is aiming for 250 this year. Its annual survey, conducted on June 2, showed Hong Kong was home to a record 6,612 overseas and mainland firms that had overseas parents - a year-on-year increase of 2.7 per cent. Of those, 3,882 were regional headquarters or offices. 'In recent years, two emerging trends have further strengthened Hong Kong's status as a regional and even international hub: more multinationals have upgraded their Hong Kong operations by adding regional and even global responsibilities, while more and more mainland companies have established local offices here to capture the business opportunities,' Mr Rowse said. As of June 2, there were 1,298 regional headquarters, 2,584 regional offices and 2,730 local offices in Hong Kong, representing overseas parent firms. Of the regional headquarters, the United States was home to the most with 311, followed by Japan with 238 and Britain with 119. They employed 142,000 staff. Most regional headquarters were involved in wholesale, retail and import/export trades as well as business and transport services. Of the regional offices, the US was home to the most at 612, followed by Japan with 494 and Britain with 234. They were mainly involved in wholesale, retail and the import/export trades, finance and banking. They employed about 97,000 people. The mainland had the highest number of local offices at 499, followed by the US with 452 and Japan with 440. They employed about 131,000 people.