Chan urges stronger trade links

ANSON Chan, chief secretary, is urging American companies to use Hong Kong as a springboard into the Asia/Pacific region.

Mrs Chan, who has been the keynote speaker at business seminars in New York, Chicago and Atlanta, is leading a delegation of business and government leaders from the territory.

She said that in the 10 years since the Sino-British Joint Declaration was initialled the territory's per capita income has more than trebled to US$20,000.

American audiences at the Trade Development Council seminars have been told within six years Asia is expected to have more than 400 million middle-class consumers and will account for 40 per cent of world trade.

During this period, the region's total capital needs will be around US$1 trillion. China alone is expected to spend US$233 billion on power, transportation and telecommunications.

Over 10 years, the Asia/Pacific region could produce up to US$1.3 trillion more in annual savings, audiences were told.

Mrs Chan is urging American companies to forge closer links with their Hong Kong counterparts to break into the China market.

C H Tung, the chairman of the Hong Kong/US Economic Co-operation Committee, said: 'By developing a long-term comprehensive strategy that integrates America's capital, management systems, and technological expertise with the lower labour costs, vast savings and huge markets of Asia, the US could reap economic benefits for years to come.' Mr Tung, who is also the chief executive of Orient Overseas, added: 'There has been an unmistakably higher level of attention and commitment to Asia by the American business community.'