ASEAN trade pacts create opportunities

Updated: 2017-11-14 06:17

(HK Edition)

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Hong Kong's trade and economic cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are poised to flourish even more after the special administrative region government signed free trade and investment agreements with the 10-member regional group on Sunday, on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila, capital of the Philippines. The ASEAN-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agreement and ASEAN-Hong Kong, China Investment Agreement will boost regional free trade and economic cooperation between Hong Kong and ASEAN member states, which have already signed similar pacts with major partners in the Asia-Pacific region, especially their close neighbor the Chinese mainland. As a part of China, the Hong Kong SAR plays a very important role in improving regional stability and development as well as complementing the country's relations with the ASEAN. All these ties, of course, will benefit Hong Kong at the same time.

China was trading with its neighbors in Southeast Asia long before Hong Kong became a British colony. Today the Chinese mainland is the second-largest economy in the world, behind only the United States. ASEAN nations' development is closely linked to trade and cooperation with China, including Hong Kong and Macao. That is why they attach great importance to maintaining trade and economic cooperation with their biggest neighbor in more ways than one.

Hong Kong has been playing a crucial part in the mainland's reform and opening-up in the past 40 years or so and as a bridge linking the country with the outside world for even longer. Its trade and economic ties with the regional markets have very much been an institution to its socio-economic development for decades to say the least, but Hong Kong's free-port status means no tariffs for imports from ASEAN nations while its exports are costlier because of tariffs at the destination, hence the new agreements mentioned above. With the Belt and Road Initiative gaining momentum and headway every day, Hong Kong faces numerous opportunities to be a "star player" in multiple roles, thanks to its rich experience in international trade, finance, shipping, logistics and various professional services.

Speaking of opportunities, let's not forget Hong Kong is seeking to restructure its economy in conjunction with its integration into the national economy amid the latter's unstoppable reform, opening-up and modernization, which is also widely seen as the leading contributor to the global economy these days. By signing free trade and investment agreements with ASEAN, Hong Kong will enjoy better-protected mutual benefits from bilateral and multilateral trade and investment deals with ASEAN member states. Meanwhile, increased involvement in international trade and business development will boost demand for innovation in science and technology, which will no doubt create more opportunities for Hong Kong's talents to shine in their respective fields of expertise.

ASEAN trade pacts create opportunities

(HK Edition 11/14/2017 page8)