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Macau such a special place to live and visit; they are thus key to its future development," the Consul-General said, who pointed out that more than 500 U.S. citizens lived and worked in the MSAR and more than 300 Macau students were currently enrolled in universities and colleges in the U.S.

    Mr Klosson also said the U.S. welcomed the handover commitment by Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah to work for a highly efficient, transparent and accountable public administrative system, to ensure that the MSAR government and society will be open and democratic and to continue Macau's special features as a home to citizens of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

    The Consul-General emphasised that the U.S. sought to further enhance co-operation with the MSAR, based on a letter that President Bill Clinton sent to Mr Ho on the occasion of Macau's reversion to Chinese rule last year.

    "The U.S. looks forward to promoting effective co-operation with the new MSAR government in pursuing our shared objectives," President Clinton wrote in the letter.

    Mr Klosson underlined the fact that the U.S. continued to be Macau's number-one trading partner. "We are eager to expand sales here," the Consul-General said about his country's huge merchandise trade deficit with Macau.

    While Macau's exports to the U.S. reached 8.2 billion patacas last year, corresponding to 47 per cent of the total export value of the MSAR, imports from the U.S. amounted to just 831 million patacas, a mere 5.1 per cent of Macau's total value of imports.

    The Consul-General pointed out that more than 90 U.S. companies took part in an exhibition at the Trade Gallery of the WTC Macau that was part of the 'American Day in Macau.' The American products exhibition included franchising information.

    "Illegal transshipments damage Macau's legitimate manufacturing enterprises and take jobs away from Macau," Mr Klosson said, stressing that the U.S. authorities "seek to initiate with the Macau government a new era of co- operation that will stop these illegal activities that harm legitimate industry on both sides of the Pacific and tarnish Macau's international reputation."

    The Consul-General urged the MSAR to intensify its "battle" against intellectual property piracy.

    "We are committed to strengthening our co-operation with Macau, and we expect to maintain distinct and autonomous relations with Macau,"Mr Klosson promised. He concluded his speech, which was warmly applauded, that "as Macau begins this new chapter in its history, we hope to be by your side as you write the pages."

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