Hong Kong Wants Quick ASEAN Agreement

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HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Gregory So, recently stressed the importance of a quick completion to the proposed Hong Kong-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) free trade agreement (FTA).

Following consultative meetings held with Hong Kong’s five largest chambers of commerce, he commented that the challenge in concluding an agreement was that of swift ratification. “We note that the negotiation process between ASEAN economies with a third-party FTA partner will usually take about two to three years to complete,” So commented. “As you know, we in Hong Kong like to do things fast, so the challenge will be to expeditiously complete the negotiation and reap the benefit of the FTA for both the ASEAN economies and the Hong Kong economy.”

So convened with representatives from several of Hong Kong’s most important chambers of commerce, including the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Manufacturer’s Association of Hong Kong, to discuss the importance of the HK-ASEAN FTA. During the meeting, So highlighted the importance of access to ASEAN’s large market, which would offer great opportunities for Hong Kong investment and provide room to expand its trade of goods and services in the region.

“Forging an FTA with ASEAN contributes to regional economic integration, which is beneficial to maintaining and enhancing Hong Kong’s international profile and its role as a regional trading hub, as well as a gateway for trade and investment between ASEAN and the Mainland,” he further commented.

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.

As the second largest trading partner in goods with Hong Kong, ASEAN receives the fifth largest inflow of FDI from Hong Kong. To further this economic cooperation, the proposed FTA should serve to increase trade and investment between the two entities, further expanding and entwining the economies of all involved.

Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email asean@dezshira.com or visit www.dezshira.com.

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