U.S. Regional Caucus Meeting in Philadelphia

May 15-17, 2009

Hosted by the Philadelphia Hong Kong Trade Association, and sponsored by Stradley Ronan, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Windsor Suites Philadelphia Hotel, the leadership of the Hong Kong Associations in the U.S.A. gathered at the 2009 U.S. Regional Caucus Meeting in Philadelphia for exchanging ideas, sharing success stories and challenges, and brainstorming strategies for the development of individual associations as well as the National US Hong Kong Business Association (NUSHKBA).
Group Photo taken at reception
A group photo taken at the welcome reception
From left: Dennis Lee (Vice President, Hong Kong Association of Southern California), Barinna Poon (President, Hong Kong Business Association of Hawaii), Michael Nocera (Executive Director, Hong Kong Association of New York), James Haring (Board Member, Hong Kong Business Association of the Midwest), Stephen Wong (Regional Director, Americas, Hong Kong Trade Development Council), Donald Tong (Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic & Trade Affairs, USA), Benjamin Lee (President, Hong Kong Association of Washington), Kenneth Wong (President, Philadelphia Hong Kong Trade Association), Eugene Hanratty III (Executive Director, Hong Kong Association of Atlanta), Susanna Kwan (Executive Director, Hong Kong Association of Northern California), Daniel Chen (President, Hong Kong Association of Northern Texas)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Welcome Reception

The welcome reception at the law office of Stradley Ronan located across the street from the Philadelphia Stock Exchange marked the debut of the 2009 U.S. Regional Caucus Meeting. On behalf of William Sasso, chair of Stradley Ronan, Deborah Hong, extended warm Philly hospitality to the presidents and leaders of the Hong Kong Associations from all over the U.S.A. and VIP guests.

Among the special guests were Donald Tong, JP, Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic & Trade Affairs, USA; Stephen Wong, Regional Director, Americas, Hong Kong Trade Development Council; Erica Atwood, Deputy City Representative, City of Philadelphia; and Samuel Rhoads, Senior Vice President, Philadelphia Industrial Corporation.

On behalf of NUSHKBA, Ken Wong presents a commemorative plaque to HK Commissioner Donald Tong
From left: Ken Wong (NUSHKBA 2009 President), HK Commissioner Donald Tong, Deborah Hong (Stradley Ronan), Benjamin Lee (NUSHKBA 2009 Chair)

At his opening remarks, Commissioner Tong (left) gave an update of the business environment of Hong Kong and a summary of Hong Kong's advantages for the local business community including freedom of autonomy, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech, as well as the rule of law.

Stephen Wong also highlighted some of the activities co-operated among the Hong Kong Trade Development Council offices, Hong Kong Associations in the U.S.A. and National US Hong Kong Business Association in the past year. The 2009 Asian Financial Forum; Logistics Mission to Chicago and Los Angeles; Product Safety Presentation & Workshop; Breakfast Seminar in Denver and the ICT Mission led by HKSAR GCIO Jeremy Godfrey were a few of the events mentioned.
 

 

The National US Hong Kong Business Association (NUSHKBA) was formed in 2004 in Hawaii with the objectives to facilitate and assist with the development of Hong Kong Associations in the United States and promote the development of new Hong Kong Associations throughout the U.S.A. NUSHKBA is currently serving over 2,600 individual member associates from ten Hong Kong associations located in the states of California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

Taking advantage of the special occasion, the event sponsors and NUSHKBA supporters were acknowledged by NUSHKBA president Kenneth Wong. Donald Tong and Stephen Wong were honored as the 2009 Honorary Advisers for the NUSHKBA. In appreciation of their support of the event, plaques and souvenirs were presented to Deborah Hong, Partner, Stradley Ronan (photo below),

With a magnificent evening view of the city of Philadelphia from the office of Stadley Ronon, plenty of mingling and networking opportunities with guests from the local business community, the first day of the program could not have ended more tasteful than a mouthful of the best Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich in a city nicknamed "Philly".



 


Erica Atwood, Deputy City Representative, City of Philadelphia (photo above), and Samuel Rhoads, Senior Vice President, Philadelphia Industrial Corporation (photo below).

ReceptionPhoto13

Eugene Hanratty III, Executive Director, Hong Kong Association of Atlanta, was recognized for his dedication and endless contribution given to the NUSHKBA as the founding Secretary-General, 2005-2006 president, and 2006-2007 chair (photo above).


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Updates on Hong Kong

At his remarks, Donald Tong, JP, Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs, pointed out that Hong Kong was not immune from the global financial turmoil. In 2009, GDP was forecasted to decrease by two to three percent and the unemployment rate currently at 5% would increase further. The value of total exports has dropped particularly in merchandize exports and the value of imports of goods also declined. However, Hong Kong's banking system was expected to be fundamentally healthy and strong. The HKSAR government would be unveiling a series of economy stimulus expenditure schemes soon.

On the bright side, an increasing number of tourists from the Chinese mainland benefited not only the tourism and retailing industry but also the private medical hospitals in Hong Kong. Hong Kong also stood to take advantage of the development of the closer relationship between China and Taiwan in terms of providing logistics and marketing support, opening a new chapter of collaboration. Hong Kong would continue to play an important role as a business center in Asia especially following the reduction of wine tax to zero percent in 2008 and signing of Memorandum of Understandings on wine promotion with France, the Bordeaux Region and Spain. Last year, Hong Kong's global wine imports was increased to $350 million and US wine exports to Hong Kong doubled to $18 million comparing to the year before.
Commissioner Tong's comment on the role of Hong Kong as Asia's trading hub was echoed by Stephen Wong, Regional Director of the Americas of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. With 20,000 square meter of additional exhibit space at the Hong Kong Convention Center, Hong Kong was undoubtedly Asia's trade fair capital. The over 30 HKTDC organized international trade fairs in Hong Kong drew close to 190,000 overseas buyers last year. Among them, 94,000 came from the Chinese mainland and 30,000 from the U.S.A.
The number of buyers attended the HKTDC trade fairs has grown nearly 88% over the past 5 years. Between 15 to 20% of Hong Kong exports were registered over the counter during these trade fairs. About 300 exhibitors from all over the world would be expected at the 2009 Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair to be held in Hong Kong this November. Adding to the basic merchandize-based trade fairs, a few new exhibitions were added, such as the Hong Kong International Tea Expo, Hong Kong Publishing Copyright Fair and Hong Kong International Medical Equipment Fair.

Stephen Wong encouraged the representatives of the Hong Kong Associations to work closely with the respective HKTDC offices for updated information and trade fair travel incentive packages available for the business needs of their members and in using the Hong Kong business platform to access the China market.

Executive Meeting
From left: Daniel Chen (President, Hong Kong Association of Northern Texas), Dennis Lee (Vice President, Hong Kong Association of Southern California), James Haring (Board Member, Hong Kong Business Association of the Midwest), Barinna Poon (President, Hong Kong Business Association of Hawaii), Eugene Hanratty III (Executive Director, Hong Kong Association of Atlanta), Donald Tong (Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic & Trade Affairs, USA), Benjamin Lee (President, Hong Kong Association of Washington), Susanna Kwan (Executive Director, Hong Kong Association of Northern California), Kenneth Wong (President, Philadelphia Hong Kong Trade Association), Stephen Wong (Regional Director, Americas, Hong Kong Trade Development Council), Michael Nocera (Executive Director, Hong Kong Association of New York), and William Uchimoto (Partner, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
In his chairman's report, Benjamin Lee commended the extraordinary effort and outstanding initiative in the areas of membership recruitment and program development of the Hong Kong Business Association of Hawaii, Hong Kong Association of Northern California and Hong Kong Association of Southern California who were all prize winners at the 2008 Hong Kong Forum.

As the hosting Hong Kong Association of the 2009 U.S. Regional Caucus Meeting, and the 2009 NUSHKBA President, Kenneth Wong was delighted to see participation of all ten Hong Kong Associations in his City of Brotherly Love. (Note: Philadelphia also nicknamed "City of Brotherly Love".) On behalf of the NUSHBKA, Kenneth Wong thanked Commissioner Tong for his address at the reception and in-depth briefing on Hong Kong at the executive meeting. He was appreciative to have Stephen Wong serving on the NUSHKBA Board as an Honorary Adviser. As an all volunteer organization, he dedicated the fast expansion of the NUSHKBA to the leadership of Benjamin Lee, Eugene Hanratty III and all past chairs as well as the assistance provided by Betty Young of the Los Angeles office of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council throughout the years.

Via telephone conference, Joseph Chow representing the Hong Kong Association of Massachusetts and Margaret Bell representing the Hong Kong Business Association of the Midwest participated in the caucus meeting to share their experience, and challenges with other Hong Kong Association representatives.

Although the youngest member of the NUSHKBA, the Hong Kong Association of Massachusetts has already organized events featuring high level speakers such as the HKSAR Financial Secretary John Tsang.
The Hong Kong Association of New York was kept very busy in the past year with a calendar filled with programs covering different industry sectors and speakers from real estate to financial industry.
The Hong Kong Association of Atlanta and Philadelphia Hong Kong Trade Association continued to be admired for their winning spirits in organizing very successful fund-raising Dragon Boat racing contests while being kept busy with their local events.
With the same enthusiasm, the Hong Kong Business Association of Hawaii also supported a local dragon boat race, in addition to a series of business workshops and cultural events.
Through working with other Hong Kong family organizations, the Hong Kong Business Association of the Midwest has put together a wide array of programs from business seminars to special events like the Hong Kong Day in May.
As a logistics center, much of the economy of Dallas is driven by the activities of the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, the Hong Kong Association of Northern Texas has been working closely with the Airport in promoting international trade activities among Hong Kong, China and Dallas.
Advantageously located at one of the west coast's most important metropolitan cities, the Hong Kong Association of Northern California based out of San Francisco has no shortage of high profile speaker events. Distinguished Speaker Luncheon series featured Arnold Grisham, CEO of Alta Alliance Bank; Ken Rosen, Chairman of Rosen Consulting Group, Richard K Lyons, Dean of Berkeley and Hong Kong Financial Secretary, John Tsang just to name a few. The Annual Scholarship Fundraising Golf Tournament continued to be a huge success! Since 2002, the Association has sponsored over 100 students from Hong Kong and China through donations to the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State University.
The Hong Kong Association of Southern California was also thrilled to have co-operated events featuring HKSAR officials including the honorable Chief Executive Donald Tsang, Financial Secretary John Tsang, and Government Chief Information Officer Jeremy Godfrey as well the Hong Kong Commissioner Donald Tong in the past few months.
Up in the northwest, members of the Hong Kong Association of Washington celebrated the Year of the Ox in style at the association's annual flagship event featuring a fashion show by Luly Yang Couture and other existing performances, all net proceeds were donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the local Chinese non-profit community groups.
Hong Kong Forum 2009

The 2009 Hong Kong Forum will be held in Hong Kong from December 1 to 2, 2009 with a side trip to a city in China. All association representatives were encouraged to taking along their members and business associates to attend the event. Participation fee per member associate would be HK$800 (approximately US$105) or HK$560 (approximately US$72) if register by September 30, 2009.

Same as previous years, the association representatives were also looking forward to have a joint caucus meeting with the Hong Kong Canada Business Association at the 2009 Hong Kong Forum to promote a closer working relationship among the Hong Kong Associations in North America and to explore feasibility of co-operating programs and activities that are of mutual interest to members in Canada and the U.S.A.


Programs and Activities

In view of the challenges of lacking of funding and downsizing of membership experienced by all Hong Kong Associations, the essence was to produce quality Hong Kong and China related programs through closer working relationship with the Hong Kong SAR government, Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

On behalf of the NUSHKBA, Kenneth Wong will be requesting for speaker referrals as well as more pro-active partnership involvement in programs featuring HKSAR government officials through working with the office of Donald Tong, JP, Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic & Trade Affairs.
Other than speaking program, events such as the dragon boat races could be another avenue to brand Hong Kong and to break the ice with major corporations not already partnering with Hong Kong. Eugene Hanratty III was volunteered to seek support from Margaret Fong, JP, Hong Kong Commissioner for Tourism Board. And Kenneth Wong has offered to lend his expertise in planning and development of dragon boat events.
Due to geographical reasons, it might be more difficult for some heavy weight speakers passing through the U.S.A. to also visit some of the cities. Through working with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Barinna Poon was assigned to explore the feasibility of organizing speaking programs with prominent speakers from Hong Kong or other parts of the United States via video conferencing. These programs might be held concurrently among associations in the same time region or on nationwide basis covering topics of common interest such as legal and financial services.

To provide a more informative and interactive online platform for the over 10,000 member associates in the FHKBAW (Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations Worldwide) network, the Federation website was being revamped including an online Associates Directory. Although not all of the individual membership information may be posted to the online directory due to privacy issues, but with the help of the participating Hong Kong Associations, the updated online Federation membership directory is expected to be released in the summer of 2009.

Membership Growth and Challenges

Due to recent global financial turmoil, most of the associations experienced downsizing in membership. This was echoed by Dennis Lee of the Hong Kong Association of Southern California (HKASC) - winner of one of the Outstanding Membership Prizes at the 2008 Forum. To maintain its membership at the 600 level, and to better understand the needs of the members, led by Dennis Lee and other HKASC board members, an electronic survey was conducted. Based on the results, a more robust series of membership-drive events and business information workshop would be in the works.

Although the greater Seattle area is home to many major corporations, speaking for the Hong Kong Association of Washington and as one of the most prominent business leaders in Seattle, Benjamin Lee also found it a difficult task to maintain major corporate membership. Sharing the same feeling, reported by Susanna Kwan for the Hong Kong Association of Northern California, her group also experienced downgrading from corporate membership to individual membership in the past months.

Stephen Wong suggested the Hong Kong Associations to consider development of sub-chapters to increase membership coverage geographically. For instance, the total number of members of its Orange County and San Diego Chapters made up approximately 30% of the total number of members of the Hong Kong Association of Southern California. Another option was to also target towards the younger generation professional groups such as the Hong Kong Schools Alumni, and National Association of Asian American Professionals.

While it might become more challenging to sustain corporate sponsorships, some associations were receiving funding through Title Sponsorship, Tabletop Display at business and flagship annual events, as well as golf tournaments.

Election of 2010 NUSHKBA Executive Board

The election of the 2010 Executive Board of the National US Hong Kong Business Association also took place. Beginning January 1, 2010, Barinna Poon (Hong Kong Association of Hawaii) will lead the team as president, current president Kenneth Wong (Philadelphia Hong Kong Trade Association) will become chairman. The new team members also include Treasurer Susanna Kwan (Hong Kong Association of Northern California), Secretary General Eugene Hanratty III (Hong Kong Association of Atlanta), and Vice Presidents: Michael Nocera (Hong Kong Association of New York), Daniel Chen (Hong Kong Association of Northern Texas), Joseph Chow (Hong Kong Association of Massachusetts), Margaret Bell (Hong Kong Business Association of the Midwest), Benjamin Lee (Hong Kong Association of Washington), and Raymond Cheng (Hong Kong Association of Southern California).

From left: Eugene Hanratty III (Secretary General Elect), Susanna Kwan (Treasurer), Kenneth Wong (2009 President), Barinna Poon (President Elect), Benjamin Lee (2009 Chairman).
Private Tour of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney at the Two Liberty Place
The meeting facility was sponsored by William Uchimoto who is a Partner of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC. The nationwide law firm serves industries from entertainment and media, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, financial services, to natural resources and technology. The caucus meeting participants were received warmly by Bill Uchimoto with his team members, Thomas Yang and Sally Jin. At the end of the meeting, some were even invited to take a private tour of the law office located at Two Liberty Place which is one of the tallest buildings in Philadelphia well known for its twenty floors of luxurious residential condominiums.
Dinner at Jack's Firehouse

The exciting discussion among the association representatives continued at the dinner hosted by Deborah Hong of Stradley Ronon at the unique Jack's Firehouse Restaurant. Located directly across the street from the Eastern State Penitentiary historic site, the restaurant was well known among the local community for its original mahogany interior, wood plank floors, its commitment to using the finest and freshest homemade and locally grown products, and the owner's old American cooking ethnic of making everything from scratch.

DinnerGroup01.JPG DinnerGroup02.JPG DinnerGroup03.JPG DinnerGroup04.JPG DinnerGroup05.JPG DinnerGroup06.JPG
(Photo Credit: Daniel Chen)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Over an enjoyable breakfast and brunch hosted by the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau at the Westin Philadelphia Hotel, the association representatives reviewed the strategies for the NUSHKBA in the coming year.

To promote awareness of NUSHKBA and the Hong Kong Associations in the U.S.A., it was agreed to place an advertisement in the 2009 Hong Kong Forum Program Book.
The feasibility of taking up a promotional stand at the HKTDC World SME Expo to be held in Hong Kong from December 3-5, 2009 would also be explored.
It was discussed that the format of the next U.S. Regional Caucus might be developed to follow the Forum in Canada and Hong Kong.

To complete the brunch, Tanya Hall, Executive Director, Multicultural Affairs Congress, representing the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau gave the association representatives a quick overview of the city of Philadelphia and presented a limited-edition musical CD to the group as a take-home souvenir.


Farewell and a Glimpse of the city of Philadelphia

After the brunch or feast, it was time to bid farewell. However, some of the lucky ones were able to get a quick glimpse of Philadelphia at a walking tour guided by James Zhang of The Windsor Suites. The first stop was the Philadelphia City Hall built in 1871, at 584 ft high, it was the tallest building in the city until 1987 (photo below).

For "Rocky" movie fans, climbing of the "Rocky Steps" and waiting in the line for a picture with the Rocky bronze statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art were rewarding (photo below).

Across the City Hall was the "LOVE" sign at the LOVE Park (photo above). Although no time to take a "dim sum" break, the group still got a taste of the liveliness of Chinatown with a snapshot in front of its landmark archway (photo below).


The Next U.S. Caucus Meeting

The next U.S. Regional Caucus Meeting has been tentatively scheduled to be held in Honolulu - the state of Aloha - in 2010.

A hui hou !

National U.S. Hong Kong Business Association
5208 Roswell Road NE, Atlanta GA 30342
Tel: 1-404-942-1686 | Fax: 1-404-552-5140
Email: info@nushkba.org | Web: http://www.nushkba.org

 

ReceptionPhoto02 ReceptionPhoto01 ReceptionPhoto06 ReceptionPhoto05 ReceptionPhoto07 ReceptionPhoto11 ReceptionPhoto12 MeetingPhoto03 MeetingPhoto05 MeetingPhoto06 BrunchPhoto01 BrunchPhoto03 BrunchPhoto02 BrunchPhoto01 BrunchPhoto03 WalkPhoto01 WalkPhoto02 WalkPhoto03 WalkPhoto05 WalkPhoto04 http://www.nushkba.org