Despite Hong Kong’s problems stemming from the Asian crisis, its new status as a territory of China has been an economic plus, according to Raymond Fan, the director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York, who will be visiting Atlanta on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

      In written responses to questions sent to him by fax last week, Mr. Fan said that China has become Hong Kong’s largest trading partner with bilateral trade volume amounting to U.S. $143 billion in 1997, taking up more than 36% of Hong Kong’s total trade.

      The mainland also is the second largest investor in Hong Kong, he added.  He estimated that more than 1,800 mainland Chinese firms operate in Hong Kong, which employ more than 53,000 people.

      Hong Kong’s economic figures this year, however, will not paint a pretty picture, he said.  He indicated that its gross domestic product is expected to contract by 5% while unemployment is at a 15-year high of 5.3%.

      He also said that the fall of stock prices, property values and rents, all by 50%, have claimed their toll.  In addition, he said that the end of the Asian crisis is not in sight.

      No one can say for certain when Asia will recover from the impact of the crisis, he added, but when we do we will be leaner and fitter for it, and Hong Kong will be at the forefront.

      Among Hong Kong’s assets, he cited the favorable capital adequacy ratios of its banks, the stability of the Hong Kong dollar, and its foreign exchange reserves of U.S. $88.7 billion, amounting to the world’s third largest.

      During his visit, Mr. Fan will speak at a luncheon of the Hong Kong Association of Atlanta to be held at the Capital City Club on the topic, Hong Kong in the Wake of the Asian Crisis.

      For more information, call Gene Hanratty at (404) 238-0875; fax, (404) 364-6552 or send an E-mail to