Georgia’s small- to medium-sized firms should follow the lead of some of the state’s biggest companies and explore opportunities in China’s booming economy by setting up shop in Hong Kong, Jacqueline Willis, the Hong Kong commissioner to the U.S., told GlobalAtlanta last week.

Ms. Willis is the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government’s most senior official in the U.S. She visited Atlanta from Washington to speak at a luncheon of the Hong Kong Association of Atlanta held at the Capital City Club downtown and to meet with representatives of the Georgia China Alliance, the outgrowth of an initiative launched last year by state Sen. Sam Zamarripa, D-Atlanta.

Thousands of small- and medium-sized companies gathered in Hong Kong last month for the World SME Expo, the region’s first such global event, and the Hong Kong Forum. Some 28,000 visitors attended the events including 1,000 businessmen from 30 countries and regions as well as 3,000 representatives of Chinese mainland enterprises.

“They want to strike when it’s hot,” Ms. Willis said of the companies’ interest in Hong Kong and mainland China. “Hong Kong is the right place for entrepreneurs with an idea or who want to sell goods and services. Hong Kong provides a comfort level and a common market system that is underpinned by the rule of law.”

“You can sue and win if you have a case,” she added. “But we don’t encourage frivolous law suits and if you do you will be penalized.”

Even Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Josette Shiner, who recently visited Hong Kong to investigate how intellectual property laws are handled there, came away impressed, according to Ms. Willis.

“She liked our resource center for small- to medium-sized companies,” Ms. Willis added because of its ability to provide introductions and information to potential business partners. She said that Ms. Shiner also was impressed with the region’s business-friendly infrastructure ranging from its high-speed Internet capability to its transportation services including its airport and ocean port facilities.

Ms. Willis said that Hong Kong’s economy had rebounded since last year when it suffered a loss of tourism business because of the SARs crisis. She forecasted that Hong Kong’s gross domestic product would achieve a growth rate of 7.5 percent this year and host some 20 million tourists.

The full text of Ms. Willis’ speech may be viewed at

To learn more about the Hong Kong Business Association in Atlanta, call Gene Hanratty , secretary general, at (404) 238-0875 or send an email to

The Web site for the Georgia China Alliance is