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f_0016387_14185 - Between Friends: Weathering the Economic...

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Spring 2009 The Ambassadors REVIEW 35 Between Friends: Weathering the Economic Crisis Donald Tong Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs, USA ore than 2,000 years ago, the Roman politician, statesman and writer Cicero made an astute observation about friendship, profound in its simplicity and universal in its application to relations between governments as well as individuals. “Friendship makes prosperity more brilliant, and lightens adversity by dividing and sharing it,” Cicero said. It may be something of a cold comfort to my American friends reeling from this grinding recession, but the people of Hong Kong, very close friends of the United States, empathize with the adversity you are experiencing. Slightly tongue in cheek, I counsel my American colleagues who are under- standably anxious about the economy that this is the Year of the Ox in the Chinese zodiac. The Ox is a sign of prosperity, but prosperity gained through patience and resilience. Recovery will come one day as it did for us after a dramatic economic decline in the late 1990s. In the meantime, Hong Kong citizens share your anxiety, for we are in the same boat. The current economic crisis on your shores, a once-in-a-century kind of financial turmoil that is rippling throughout world economies and across oceans, has spread out from the financial markets leading to a synchronized global recession. As a small open economy, Hong Kong is not impervious to the strains of the current crisis which upset an economic upswing started in late 2003. Because of sluggish overseas markets and the global crisis crunch, growth in Hong Kong’s exports of goods in 2008 only recorded an increase of two percent in real terms over 2007. Consumer sentiment has worsened visibly. The drop in asset prices and bleaker economic prospects saw private consumption expenditure grow by only 1.8 percent in 2008, also a marked slow-down from the rapid growth in the previous year. For 2008 as a whole, Hong Kong’s
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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f_0016387_14185 - Between Friends: Weathering the Economic...

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