Remarks by Consul General Tong at U.S. Independence Day Reception in Macau

Remarks by U.S. Consul General Kurt W. Tong
U.S. Independence Day Reception
Clube Militar, Macau
June 29, 2018
(As prepared for delivery)

Good evening! Thank you very much for joining us here tonight to celebrate the 242nd birthday of the United States of America.

Please allow me to start by thanking Secretary Chan Hoi Fan for joining us again this year as our guest of honor. Madame Secretary, we are delighted to have you here. We are also honored by the presence of other officials from the government of the Macau SAR and from the Central Government.

In my two years serving as the Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau, I have come to appreciate Macau’s rich and fascinating history, as well as its vibrant economic development.

We should all congratulate Macau for its outstanding economic growth. In the first quarter of 2018 the Macau economy grew 9.2 percent, and I’m told that in the first five months of this year 14.21 million people visited Macau.

I enjoy taking the ferry to Macau, as I have done 27 times in the last two years, but I’m also excited about the Macau-Hong Kong-Zhuhai Bridge set to open later this year. I expect the opening of the bridge will lead to even greater possibilities for Macau.

The United States is one of Macau’s main partners in its growth. In 2017, the United States exported more than $500 million worth of goods and services to Macau. This included $75 million of consumer agricultural products from the United States, including $10 million worth of delicious U.S. beef and $3 million worth of our wonderful wine. In 2018 we’ve seen the demand for U.S. food products steadily increase. So, with 2018 being the “Macao Year of Gastronomy,” we are happy that American ingredients, in the hands of skilled chefs from Macau, are contributing to the culinary delights of this special year.

You all know about the role U.S. investment has played in the development of the miraculous Macau we see today. By the end of 2016, U.S. foreign direct investment in Macau totaled $23.8 billion. Much of that investment came in the gaming and entertainment sector that has helped transform Macau’s economy.

Not only do U.S. casinos, hotels, and related industries in Macau employ tens of thousands of people in the SAR, they also help to promote Macau’s efforts to diversify its economy and create new opportunities in new sectors — in particular in “meetings, incentives, conferencing, and exhibitions” — or “MICE” as people in the trade call it.

For us at the Consulate, we cherish our strong, positive relationship with the government and the people of Macau.

There are about 5000 Americans living in Macau who contribute to Macau society in business, in the arts, and in charitable works. I am pleased that many members of the strong and active American Chamber of Commerce in Macau are here this evening.

We have deep engagement here, with members of my team, representing several agencies of the U.S. government, making regular visits to Macau. We enjoy excellent law enforcement cooperation with Macau. We hold a monthly American Citizen Services day to provide services to the Americans living and working in Macau.

This year, the Consulate sponsored five American teachers of English at Macau Polytechnic Institute. Next year, we will welcome six such teachers to Macau. We are honored to be one of the sponsors of the regional conference of teacher of English as a foreign language that just concluded at University of Macau. We are so glad that some of the conference participants, as well as our English Language Officer and her team from Beijing, could join us tonight.

Two high school students from Macau won U.S. government-sponsored scholarships to study at summer academies in the United States this year. They’ll learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Entrepreneurship. We wish them a successful summer of study and hope they consider continuing their studies in our country.

So, ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, there are many promising and productive facets to the U.S.-Macau relationship. On every one of my 27 visits to Macau, I have never failed to learn something new and interesting, and I’m sure tonight will be no exception. After the formal part of our event ends, I look forward to speaking with many of you individually. Thank you so much for coming tonight.