Margaret Fong

The Hong Kong government’s top official in the U.S. bid farewell to Atlanta at a reception on Sept. 12, calling the Georgia capital a “major financial and logistics hub.”

Margaret Fong has visited the city about a half-dozen times during her two-year tenure as the commissioner for the U.S. of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office

Upon her departure, she will return to Hong Kong to take up a yet unannounced diplomatic post.  The government has chosen her replacement but has not made it public.

In a speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Ms. Fong said that Hong Kong and Atlanta share many similarities, including busy airports, strong universities, vibrant cultural scenes and an active financial sector.

“We too have a world-class international airport and the third-busiest container port in the world.  Sixty-eight of the top 100 banks in the world are in Hong Kong and we ranked fourth last year in terms of equity funds raised through IPOs,” she said.

Hong Kong universities also have exchange programs with 140 universities worldwide, including the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, she said.

In March, Ms. Fong celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art for the second straight year.

Based in Washington, she has been responsible for Hong Kong’s office there and its branches in New York and San Francisco

The U.S. is Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner and the only country in which the special administrative region has three offices to promote its status as a nerve center for international trade and finance.

In just two years, Ms. Fong has visited 32 states in her dogged efforts to boost Hong Kong’s profile throughout the U.S., said Eugene Hanratty, chairman of the National U.S. Hong Kong Business Association.

Mr. Hanratty, who also consults for the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, said that Ms. Fong has always shown a willingness to listen to prime decision makers in key markets.

“She makes it a point to always get together, wherever she goes at city or state level, with the economic development people and also with the U.S. Commercial Service,” he said.

The city has had a significant impact on Georgia’s efforts to become an international business center, Mr. Hanratty said.

Much of the Port of Savannah‘s ascendance as the fastest-growing port in the nation is based on trade from Greater China, and Hong Kong has a lot to do with the increased container volumes, he said.

“One out of every 10 containers that arrives in the U.S. comes from Hong Kong,” he said.

He said Hong Kong is also an economic engine for the Pearl River Delta, a huge manufacturing region in southern China.

Because of Hong Kong’s business-friendly regulatory environment and preferred trade status with China, many companies like United Parcel Service Inc. have used the city as an entry point to the mainland, he added. 

Ms. Fong said a total of 3,890 companies have regional bases there to take advantage of the city’s global connectivity in transportation and logistics as well as its cosmopolitan environment, she said.

“We are particularly proud to have so many great Atlanta and Georgian companies such as Coca-Cola, UPS, Newell Rubbermaid, CNN and Turner Broadcasting System represented in Hong Kong,” she said.

On Sept. 23, Ms. Fong will speak at the Brock School of Business at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.  Her appearance is part of a new international business speaker series launched June 25 by the Indonesian ambassador to the U.S.

The Brock school has one of its three business network chapters in Atlanta to connect Samford alumni with each other and local professionals.

The speaker series will feature the French and German consuls general on Oct. 10 and 16, respectively.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...