Wednesday, 16 Jan 2019
News: U.S. Consul General visited Legislative Assembly of Macau SAR
Posted on February 17, 2011

The decision to reject Sands China’s application for the Cotai plots 7 and 8 was “not-discriminatory,” US consul general for Hong Kong and Macau, Stephen Young, said yesterday. “We want a level playing field, equal opportunities for foreign investors. We are of the opinion that is being presented,” he said after a meeting with the president of the Legislative Assembly, Lau Cheok Va.
Last December, the Government rejected an application from local gaming operator Sands China for plots 7 and 8 and also dismissed interest from rival operator SJM Holdings. The decision was made even though Sands China, subsidiary of US-based Las Vegas Sands, claims to have already invested around USD 162 million (MOP 1.29 billion) in the two sites.
“My sense is that this policy is not discriminatory but is intended to regulate the growth of the economy and the industry in general,” Young said. “There’s not some sort of special conditions that prejudice foreign investment. If you talk with foreign operators, they feel they are fairly treated,” he added.
The relationship between the US and Macau “has really changed in the last 8 years due to the expansion of the gaming industry,” the diplomat said. Gaming operators Las Vegas Sands, Wynn or MGM “saw an opportunity” and “have put a lot of effort into participating in this expansion,” he praised.
“I think that has been pretty successful. We are very pleased by that,” Young acknowledged. Still, he added, “our responsibility is to understand both the opportunities and the challenges”.

Labour shortage

In November last year, the US consul general urged the Macau Government to better protect the rights of all foreign investors, saying that all foreign investors should be “treated fairly and in a transparent manner”. He also called on the Administration to handle foreign companies’ requests to secure labour quotas for projects fairly and in a transparent manner.
“I have often spoken with Chief Executive [Fernando] Chui [Sai On] and they are very aware of this issue [labour shortage],” Young said yesterday. “The question is: are there local people capable of doing the job or do you have to bring them from elsewhere?” he stressed. 
“As long as the labour policy if focused on that and is not artificially favouring people who are not skilled to do the job, that’s good,” the diplomat said. The local Government “has said that, where skills are not available in Macau, the companies will be allowed to hire people from elsewhere. If that continues, everyone will be in good change,” he emphasised.
Almost a year after being appointed as US consul general for Hong Kong and Macau, Young visited the Legislative Assembly for the first time. “It’s important for us to understand what they do. President Lau was very instructive on issues from taxation to budgets and, of course, the expansion of Macau into Hengqin Island,” he said.
Macau and Zhuhai authorities are set to develop Hengqin island together, with projects such as the new University of Macau campus and the Chinese Medicine Technology Industrial Park. “It’s a very interesting project,” the diplomat said.