The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham), one of the city’s most influential business groups, has bought an office in the heart of the city, its top representative has said, showing its long-term commitment at a time when Washington is warning of rising operational risks.
Chamber president Tara Joseph told the Post on Saturday that the property was located on the 22nd floor of the Hong Kong Diamond Exchange Building on Duddell Street in Central.
She said the office would be renovated, turning it into a collaborative working space and community hub for its guests and 1,400 members, with designs already well under way. The chamber will move into the space in 2022.
“It is a long-term commitment,” she said. “We intend to navigate the challenges, as we believe Hong Kong is a critical global business hub.”
In escalating actions against Beijing and Hong Kong, US President Joe Biden on late Friday night issued a business advisory to US firms about risks presented by the national security law and sanctioned seven Chinese officials from the city’s liaison office.
Less than two months into Biden’s presidency, his administration has issued sanctions against 24 Chinese officials.
The joint business advisory – from the US treasury, state, commerce and homeland security departments – warns businesses operating in Hong Kong that they are subject to the city’s laws, including the security legislation, under which foreign nationals, including one US citizen, have been arrested.
Biden accused Beijing of trampling the autonomy granted Hong Kong under the “the one country, two systems” principle via its imposition of the national security law and drastic overhaul of the city’s electoral system, accusations China has rejected.
But Joseph said Hong Kong remained a critical and vibrant facilitator of trade and financial flow between East and West, noting it had one of the best-developed infrastructures in Asia including an internationally recognised system of commercial law and more open and sophisticated digital networks than many of its peers.
Its financial market was also among the top five in the world, she added.
“AmCham is well aware of an increasingly complicated geopolitical environment and its risks, particularly those which have evolved in recent years,” she said. “We have been on the ground for 50 years, and we would like to foster trade and serve as a resource for our members.”
AmCham’s new office on Duddell Street is a 26-storey building that counts many law and accounting firms as tenants. A typical office area is about 2,800 sq ft, about half the size of the chamber’s previous office in Bank of America Tower.
Last year, it sold the 6,000 sq ft office in Central – bought in 1996 for more than HK$54 million – amid continuous deficits between 2016 and 2018, an insider told the Post.
It then moved to a temporary office at Two Chinachem Central in Central.
As of June 1, 2020, the number of US companies with offices in Hong Kong had shrunk 4.5 per cent to 1,283, down from 1,344 a year earlier, according to the latest available figures from the government.