Evaristo Trevino Berlanga, Chairman of the Americas Committee, led a group of members to visit the Moonzen Brewery in Kwun Tong on 7 October. During the visit, members learned about all stages of the process, from the brewing and fermentation of the beer to the packaging of the final product, as well as the ingredients used to achieve the desired flavor and aroma. Mexican founder Laszlo Raphael also shared the story of how the company launched and become one of the leading local brewers in Hong Kong. Members also sampled some of the unique craft beers and enjoyed the networking opportunity.
Argentina’s economy was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, but it is now on the road to recovery. Speaking at the Americas Committee’s knowledge sharing session on 24 August, Consul General of Argentina Gonzalo Sabate said the country was expecting to see economic growth of 7% this year and 4% in 2022. He explained that, as a resource-rich country, Argentina presents significant untapped mineral and energy resources. This creates enormous business opportunities for companies in sectors such as oil and gas, mining and agriculture, alongside the country’s infrastructure and tourism industries.
The U.S.-China trade war has now lasted three years, but many studies showed that it has failed to achieve the major policy goals originally stated by the U.S. administration. Speaking at the Chamber’s Americas Committee webinar on 22 July, Oxford Economics’ Lead Economist Alex Mackle said that the tariffs were damaging to the U.S. economy, leading to higher consumer prices, delayed and cancelled investments, and supply chain disruption. The trade tensions had also hurt the manufacturing sector, as well as other key sectors of the economy such as agriculture and energy.
Mackle also explored some of the possible scenarios for future U.S.-China trade and economic relations. To sum up, he said tariffs and other restrictive measures imposed by the U.S. administration come with an economic cost. However, U.S. multinationals – and increasingly, financial corporations – are continuing to invest heavily in China, and policymakers will likely want to avoid the economic cost of extreme decoupling.
The success of the global vaccine rollout in different jurisdictions is highly varied, which has affected the pace of recovery in the United States and beyond. Constance Hunter, Principal and Chief Economist of KPMG U.S., said at the Americas Committee Webinar on 17 June that the current disequilibrium in the prices of goods and the friction in the labour market in the U.S. would govern how quickly the recovery can advance. She also introduced a hypothesis on the future trajectory of growth potential in the U.S. and discussed its implications.
Trade between China and Latin America has surged over the past 15 years, and China is poised to become an even more important trading partner for Latin America and the Caribbean. Speaking at the Americas Committee’s Knowledge Sharing Session on 11 June, Pepe Zhang, Associate Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council, said China has become the second largest trading partner of Latin America, but added that the importance of agribusiness in exports to China will be relatively lower by 2035. He suggested that businesses across Latin America and the Caribbean should diversify and add value to their exports to China to best capitalise on the growing market opportunities.
While the geopolitical and technological competition between the United States and China will continue, there is an opportunity for the two countries to improve their relations in these areas, just as U.S. President Biden had stressed that they must cooperate in the fight against climate change. Speaking at the Chamber’s webinar on 26 April, Dr Chen Xi, an expert on geo-tech competition, said that he believed the two major economies would collaborate to find common interests, and that this would bring greater benefits to the world in the long run. He also touched on how Hong Kong companies could benefit from the Mainland’s growing investments in smart city developments.
Understanding the new U.S. administration's approach to China will be crucial for many businesses here in Hong Kong. Thanks to Brunswick Group's senior experts Robert Zoellick and Tim Payne for speaking to members at our Distinguished Speaker webinar today about the complexities and risks stemming from the evolution of U.S.-China relations.
Zoellick, who is the former President of the World Bank Group, said that he hoped China and the U.S. would recognize their mutual interests over time – not only in climate change, but also in economic areas. As for Hong Kong, which is currently encouraging vaccination to enable the return of normal business operations, Payne said that companies needed to be very cautious, and pay attention to market changes and political risks.
With U.S. President Joe Biden now at the helm of the world's biggest economy, investors will need to pay attention to his policy priorities. Benjamin Kostrzewa, International Trade Attorney, Hogan Lovells, and Dr Simon Shen, Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, spoke at the Chamber’s Americas Committee webinar on 19 March about the likely developments in U.S.-China relations under the Biden administration and their possible impact on Hong Kong. Kostrzewa gave an overview of how U.S.-China relations have evolved since 2000. He added that Hong Kong companies should pay attention to any relevant developments such as rule changes in the U.S, as well as establish effective compliance programmes to address both U.S. and Chinese export control laws or possible sanctions requirements. Dr Shen said that he expected the U.S. to take a more proactive approach towards tackling China, and that Hong Kong's financial status would become a proxy battlefield in the cold war between China and the U.S.
Consul General of the Dominican Republic in Hong Kong Eduardo Álvarez and Consul Amado Raful visited the Chamber on 22 February, where they were welcomed by CEO George Leung, Americas Committee Chairman Steve Wong and the Chamber’s PR & Programs Director Malcolm Ainsworth. Both sides discussed topics regarding trade, investment and cooperation between the Dominican Republic and Hong Kong. Consul General Álvarez said businesses in the Dominican Republic were looking to penetrate the Hong Kong and Mainland China markets, especially in agricultural products including coffee, cocoa, pineapple, avocado, coconut, cigars and tobacco. Chamber CEO Leung stressed that Hong Kong is an excellent platform for companies from the Dominican Republic to expand into the Greater Bay Area. The participants also discussed possible ways to collaborate in the future, including Zoom meetings and webinars, that would be mutually beneficial for Dominican Republic businesses and Chamber members.
Despite the tensions over trade, cybersecurity and international development, the world’s two biggest economies can still focus on areas of cooperation, said Timothy Roemer at the Americas Committee meeting on 20 January. Roemer is a former Congressman and ex-U.S. Ambassador to India, and is also Executive Director and Strategic Counselor at APCO Worldwide. He said the United States and China could strengthen collaboration on a number of issues of mutual concern, including extreme weather disasters made worse by climate change, water and food security, healthcare solutions for ageing populations, public health emergencies, and higher education initiatives. He also discussed how the U.S. is likely to go about rebuilding its reputation and alliances in Asia and around the world.