Founding - In 1968, a group of executives formed an organizing committee to propose the establishment of an American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. This new chamber was designed to represent the ever-growing range of American business interests in the colony. In addition, the Chamber was to serve as a forum for the exchange and development of ideas among members of the business community, both in Hong Kong and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Membership - Importantly, the founding Articles of Association included an item on membership that reflects American - and as well as Hong Kong - inclusiveness: "The Chamber shall be international in its character and shall be open to persons of all races and nationalities."This idea of having an 'American Chamber with international characteristics' has remained a foundation principle of AmCham since its beginnings and is a continuing matter of pride for the organization.
Early History - The Chamber's registration was approved by the Hong Kong government in March 1969. The first office was opened at 322 Edinburgh House and the first official Chamber meeting was held on May 17, 1969 at the American Club. The 1970 membership directory lists 128 corporate charter members and 13 individual charter members. An early goal of the Membership Committee was to recruit all of the estimated 400 American companies and individuals resident in Hong Kong. By year-end 1970, total membership had increased to 319.
Founding Member of APCAC - The officers of ACCHK, as the Chamber was then known, participated as observers in the first meeting of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) October 6 and 7, 1969. The very first item on the agenda was the "Gore Amendment' which proposed to eliminate the statutory tax exemption for income earned by overseas U.S. citizens. The amendment was subsequently dropped from the final tax reform bill - a major victory for APCAC!
Advocacy History - Soon after its founding, the Chamber began lobbying the U.S. Administration to liberalize Foreign Asset Control restrictions on non-strategic trade with China. The subsequent modification of these regulations represented the first political action victory for the Chamber and set the stage for decades of public policy initiatives for Hong Kong, Mainland China, and the United States.
From modest beginnings, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong has emerged as one of the most influential business organizations in the Asia-Pacific region and remains actively engaged in a broad range of local and international public policy issues of importance to our membership.