Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham), has confirmed she will be leaving the influential business organisation next year.

Joseph, who joined the chamber in February 2017, told the Post on Tuesday that she would step down after first ensuring a smooth leadership transition and wrapping up some “major initiatives” currently under way.

“I will stay on to steer the chamber through the next few months with a lot of great plans set for 2022,” she said from the United States. “We will be opening a new community hub and embarking on some major initiatives, and as I love the chamber and Hong Kong I want to see things through.”

Joseph was referring to a planned community hub to be housed at AmCham’s new offices on the 22nd floor of the Hong Kong Diamond Exchange on Duddell Street in Central.

The body has been openly frustrated by Hong Kong’s strict pandemic-related quarantine policy, calling it an impediment to international travel and pressing the government to reopen to the world.

In a story on her departure, Reuters quoted Joseph as saying a primary reason she was leaving was because she could not appeal to the government to ease its mandatory quarantine requirements while undergoing isolation herself for up to 21 days in a hotel upon returning to Hong Kong.

“It is not in my nature to advocate on something and then embark on quarantine like a stooge,” she told the wire service.

But Joseph later told the Post the quarantine issue was one of, but not the main, reason she had chosen to step down.

AmCham on Wednesday that it would start a global search for her replacement, adding it was saddened to see her step down and that a departure date had not yet been fixed.

Last year, Joseph was embroiled in an internal controversy when three senior staff members told the AmCham board she had unfairly dismissed them for publicly questioning her pay package, which included a HK$300,000 bonus despite the chamber having lost money for several years in a row.

The three senior employees were in charge of business development, membership and engagement, and government relations and public affairs. A source who at the time said legal proceedings had been formally launched on Wednesday said the case had been dropped do to court closures amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, a source familiar with Joseph’s thinking said she wanted to relocate to the US after spending 15 years working in Asia. Joseph was a Reuters correspondent covering economic and political news prior to joining AmCham.

Joseph said she was now visiting family in Boston and Santa Fe, and wanted her next role to also be involved in US-Asia relations.

“The last few years have been head-spinning for residents and Hong Kong-based foreign executives, and we are not out of the woods yet as Covid-19 restrictions take a hefty toll on our connectivity and spirit,” she said. “But Hong Kong is a great, great city and it will provide lots of twists, turns and opportunities in the coming years.”

The past few years have seen relations between Washington and Beijing undergo a dramatic shift, with AmCham at times finding itself caught in the crossfire.