AustCham Hong Kong & Macau – another great year
AustCham Hong Kong and Macau Chairman, Richard Petty, reviews the main outcomes for the chamber following its AGM in March.
AustCham Hong Kong & Macau held its 26th Annual General Meeting in Central, Hong Kong, on March 12, 2014. I take the opportunity here to review some of the activities and achievements of the past year.
AustCham Hong Kong & Macau is the largest Australian Chamber of Commerce globally outside of Australia and it is the second largest of the international business chambers in Hong Kong. As the chamber’s logo indicates, the chamber is a member of AustCham Greater China (AGC), joining with other “China Chams” in this pioneering move. AGC strengthens our presence in Greater China and creates a platform for better representing our members in the region.
In 2013-14 the Secretariat underwent substantial change including the appointment of a new Chief Executive in January 2014, implementation of the new CRM system in January 2014, the launch of the inaugural Mentor Program (which was a great success), the introduction of a Board Advocacy Committee, the introduction of a “Signature Member” category, and a renewed focus on identifying and delivering benefits to members.
Each year, board and management review the chamber’s strategy and discuss new directions for the chamber. This is in addition to the strategy discussions and planning that is part of every board meeting. The board is mindful of the need to represent the chamber’s members and to also be representative of the membership of the chamber.
The chamber’s key areas of activity are Member Services, Events, and Advocacy. Forward moves were taken in each area and I shall highlight but a few here.
• Austcham News, the chamber’s monthly publication continues to be a mainstay in keeping contact with the broad membership of the chamber. There is room to make the publication even better and a review is presently underway to ensure that this happens.
• Work done by the seven chamber committees has been instrumental in helping the chamber develop a louder and more relevant voice for our members.
• The chamber held quarterly networking sessions in Macau in 2013 and these will continue along with other activities in the coming year. Doing more for our members in Macau, and connecting them more closely with our other members is a priority for the chamber.
• Over 60 percent of the chamber’s members are small and medium sized enterprises. The chamber has worked in various ways to support its SME members in recent times, including by running a highly successful series of small business seminars. The chamber has also developed a “Small Business Network” which will be launched in April 2014 as a platform to generate referrals and business between network members.
• In 2012-13 the chamber held 141 paid events. Notable speakers in 2012-13 included Andrew Robb, Wayne Swan, Kevin Rudd, George Negus, Christine Loh, Mike Rowse, Alan Jones, and Bob Carr. The chamber endeavours to impress upon each speaker the work that our members do in support of Australia and in developing an Australian business presence in Hong Kong and Macau, business ties between Hong Kong and Macau and Australia, and relevant business and people-to-people ties within the region more broadly.
Beyond forming a Board Advocacy Committee, various other advocacy activities took place during the year including:
• submissions to Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer in July 2012 on a double taxation agreement between Australia and Hong Kong, and a letter to Australia’s Minister for Trade and Investment followed by a private meeting in October 2013, on the same topic.
• a letter to the Secretary for Education, HKSAR, in August 2012 on the matter of “International Schooling Places”; a letter to the Secretary for Education, HKSAR, in December 2012 on the matter of “supporting Australian International School Hong Kong’s bid to expand its operation through the current bidding process on the site in Stanley”
• a letter to Legislative Council in February 2013 on the “Stamp Duty (Amendment) Bill”
• a letter to the Director-General Trade and Industry, HKSAR, in June 2013 on the “Negotiation of Trade in Services Agreement”
• a response paper submitted by the chamber’s Sustainable Development Committee to the International Integrated Report Council in July 2013 on “Consultation Draft of the International Framework for reporting”
• a letter to the Chief Executive, HKSAR Government in December 2013 on the 2014-15 Chief Executive Policy Address
• a letter to the Chairman of Harbourfront Commission in January 2014 on “Phase I Public Engagement on the proposed establishment of a Harbourfront Authority”
• a letter to the Financial Secretary, HKSAR, in March 2014 on the “2014-15 HKSAR Budget”; and many other similar activities.
A non-profit, non-government, members association does not succeed without the commitment, time and energy of many individuals and corporations. Sincere thanks is due to all who made a contribution. This includes, of course, our many sponsors. They are valued partners who have enabled the chamber to elevate its level of service and the quality of chamber events. Finally, and most importantly, thank you to all our members. The journey has just begun in terms of our ambition to provide enhanced value to you for your membership. ■