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BANGKOK -- As its service-oriented economy complements the strengths of ASEAN countries, Hong Kong is ready to serve and to be included into the China-ASEAN community, the city's Financial Secretary John Tsang said here on Friday.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has initiated the study on the economic benefits and implications of Hong Kong joining the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) since last year. Tsang said in an interview with Xinhua Friday that the secretariat of this union was still going through some "cost- benefit" analysis in this regard. "Hopefully before the end of this year, they would come up with a decision as how to take this matter forward."
Noting Hong Kong's staunch role as a service economy, Tsang displayed confidence in what the city had to offer to the China- ASEAN community, saying it was ready to make contribution.
"For example, Hong Kong has a very strong financial service sector, which is required by many countries in this region, to help them raise funds, capitals and acquire professional expertise in other service areas, such as logistics, tourism," said the finance secretary.
"We are keen to be a member of this community. Hopefully our wish to be included in this process would be favorably answered," he added.
Recalling the history of Hong Kong-ASEAN economic ties, Tsang said the city, as a small but outward economy, used to rely heavily on the United States and European countries and was thus extremely vunerable to the fluctuation of the international market. Back in 2007 when the current government took office, it started to make changes.
"We look more to the emerging economies like ASEAN countries to develop a much bigger market. What we are looking to bond with them is not just direct and simple relationships but complex and multidimensional ones," said Tsang.
"Now, we are beginning to see results, as the financial structure of western world is wobbling and a long period of time is expected for it to recover."
Speaking at a luncheon hosting hundreds of HK and Thai business elites earlier the day, Tsang hailed the strong trading relations between the two sides. Last year, Thailand was Hong Kong's 9th largest trading partner and 11th largest export destination. Meanwhile, Hong Kong was the kingdom's 7th largest trading partner and 4th largest export market.
Despite the devastating floods, the trade value between HK and Thailand exceeded HK$120 billion ($15 billion), a 7 percent increase year-on-year.Tsang also noted that Thailand was spearheading a trend of using Hong Kong as a springboard to reach market in Chinese mainland. Last year, 16.7 percent of Thailand's trade with the mainland was routed through Hong Kong.