June 26, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Hong Kong May Be Gateway to New Jobs for Alabama

By Brad Harper – The Montgomery Advertiser- June 26, 2012


After two separate Alabama delegations spent last week in Asia, leaders returned with what they say is a road map to better trade with China and more jobs for the state.


And that road goes through Hong Kong.


While Alabama’s direct exports to Hong Kong more than doubled from 2009 to 2010, state leaders said its biggest value could be as a gateway to the massive but insular economic market of China.


Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield met last week with his Hong Kong counterpart, Permanent Secretary Andrew Wong, to craft a strategy for more investment from China. Canfield said Hong Kong is uniquely situated to play that role because it has an English-based financial structure and legal system despite its close ties with China.


“Their laws are much more compatible to ours,” Canfield said. “Their financial structures and institutions are (ones) we’re familiar with.


“There’s never been a specific strategy for dealing with China, as we’ve had for other parts of Asia or parts of Europe. It does look very promising that Hong Kong will be a very likely springboard for doing that.”


Canfield said the group came away with “targeted industries,” including automotive and aerospace manufacturing, which could get a boost from Chinese investment, via Hong Kong. He spoke Monday from an economic development conference in Point Clear, where he shared his vision for those opportunities.


“The message for the conference is that, strategically, Alabama is well-positioned to grow and create jobs,” he said. “We’re following a plan.”


The Asia trip came two weeks after Donald Tong, the Hong Kong commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs in the U.S., visited Montgomery, and Canfield said the trip allowed the state delegation to follow up on those connections.


“Hong Kong has been playing this gateway role for years,” Tong said. “Hong Kong is the single largest source in external investment in the mainland of China. China is the largest investor in Hong Kong.”


Other recent investments in relations with China already are paying dividends.


The recently dedicated Confucius Institute at Troy University, which prepares state businesses to enter the global market, helped the state delegation translate its publications and presentations before the trip. The leaders of the institute’s Center for International Business and Economic Development then journeyed to China on a separate mission while Canfield’s group visited Hong Kong.


Tong said that level of commitment and engagement from Alabama’s leaders “will open doors” in the business community.


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