A high-level U.S. delegation gets down to work today exploring business possibilities in Hainan, the tropical island off China's southern coast targeted for development.

Led by U.S. Consul General Donald Anderson, the 40-strong mission organized by the American Chamber of Commerce here includes representatives from the electronics, chemical, transportation, textile and legal sectors.The number of companies that signed up for the trip indicates the high level of interest Americans have in Hainan's new status as a province, Mr. Anderson told The Journal of Commerce.

We don't expect to sign any immediate huge projects. Basically, we are going to find out about the new policy. But what we have learned so far suggests it will be an innovative approach, said Mr. Anderson, who served as consul in Shanghai prior to his Hong Kong posting.

In preparation for its designation as a full province, officials issued a sheaf of new regulations intended to promote investment and exports.

The American group has appointments with a number of senior officials as well as business people, said Richard Johannessen, this year's president of the chamber of commerce.

Although we cannot predict any collaboration, progress will be made in identification and investigation of potential business, he said as the group set off.

Mr. Johannessen also said he expects the Americans to be asked for ideas about developing the island.

Hainan was for many years a closed area, because of its proximity to

Vietnam. Later, it acted as a conduit for a binge of illicit imports of consumer goods that is said to have cost the Chinese Treasury many millions of