Hong Kong commerce minister warns of long U.S. - China trade war but says American investors will not abandon city

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Photo: AmCham President Tara Joseph and Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau shared their insight from the recent trip to Washington DC with SCMP

Investors are not pulling out of Hong Kong, and American business dealings with it on a practical level should continue, regardless of the raging U.S. - China trade war and the political belligerence from Washington, the city’s commerce minister and business leaders say.

In a panel discussion with the South China Morning Post on Sunday, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah insisted the campaign for free global trade must continue, but also warned “the situation could get worse before it gets better” and the fallout would “play long”.

Yau, who flew with a trade delegation to Washington last month to meet Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and other officials from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, said his American counterparts had assured him they would honour their commitment to a separate trading status for the city under its “one country, two systems” governing policy.

“In mid-February, Hong Kong was taken hostage as part of China in trading status at the beginning of the trade war,” Yau said. “In meeting with Wilbur Ross, I reminded him that Hong Kong has a different trading status and that is fully recognised.”

Video panel discussion featuring Secretary Edward Yau, AmCham President Tara Joseph and HKGCC Chairman Aron Harilela on the impact of US-China trade war on Hong Kong

“Tough and gets tougher” was the forecast for the next six to 12 months from Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, who also attended the Washington talks.

But investors were not pulling out of Hong Kong or mainland China, she noted.

“They see Asia as important,” she said. “Hong Kong is an important place and it is not the time to abandon ship.”

Read more at SCMP