Hong Kong Gets Public Consultation Over ASEAN Free Trade Agreement

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HONG KONG – The Government of Hong Kong has initiated a public consultation on the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between Hong Kong and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). “ASEAN (whose member countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) is an important trading partner of Hong Kong,” commented a government spokesman from Hong Kong. “The establishment of an FTA with ASEAN is in line with Hong Kong’s strategic goal of strengthening economic partnerships with the 10 member states of ASEAN,” the government added.

As the second largest trading partner in goods with Hong Kong, ASEAN receives the fifth largest inflow of FDI from Hong Kong. Despite this, the territory is not covered by the China-ASEAN FTA that came into effect in 2010.

“An ASEAN-Hong Kong FTA will enable our goods, services and investments to access the ASEAN market under more favourable conditions, boost the economic growth of Hong Kong and create job opportunities,” further commented the Hong Kong spokesman.

Negotiations between Hong Kong and ASEAN are scheduled to begin this July and will receive support from the Chinese government. The free trade agreement will focus on reducing trade barriers, including:

  • Elimination/reduction of tariffs;
  • Clarification on rules of origin;
  • Liberalization of trade in services;
  • Promotion and protection of bilateral investment; and
  • Promotion of intellectual property cooperation.

Earlier this month, Gregory So, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, highlighted the importance of an ASEAN-HK FTA, saying, “with the Chinese Government’s policy of helping enterprises in both the Mainland and Hong Kong to ‘go global’ together, the potential investment from the Mainland to ASEAN through Hong Kong would be enormous.”

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