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Speech by SCED at Hong Kong and New Zealand Closer Economic Partnership Agreement Signing Ceremony (English only)(with photo/video)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, at the signing ceremony of the Hong Kong, China - New Zealand Closer Partnership Agreement today (March 29):

Financial Secretary, Minister Groser, Minister Wong, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to join us and celebrate a great day for Hong Kong and New Zealand. In a moment, Minister Groser and I are going to sign the Hong Kong - New Zealand Closer Economic Partnership Agreement. It is Hong Kong's first Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with a foreign economy and we are truly delighted that it is with New Zealand, a very close and long-time trading partner of Hong Kong. We are both strong advocates of the free market and liberal investment. We share the same values in the promotion of regional and international co-operation and in the pursuit of free trade. The CEP Agreement we sign today is comprehensive, of high quality and will take our business and economic ties to a new height. It opens not only a new chapter in our history of international trade but also doors to new opportunities.  

     Under the CEP Agreement, Hong Kong products will be afforded  preferential market access to New Zealand and over the next six years, New Zealandˇ¦s import tariffs on Hong Kong originating goods will be totally eliminated.

     The Agreement also secures greater certainty for our service providers and their services in a wide range of sectors. These include sectors of Hong Kong's traditional economic pillars as well as those industries where we have clear advantages. We will also facilitate the movement of business persons between the two places in the furtherance of business growth. The CEP Agreement will be a new incentive to attract New Zealand enterprises to come and invest in Hong Kong, bringing with them valuable expertise and experience.

     The conclusion of the CEP Agreement in just seven months after we resumed talks last year is in itself a truly remarkable achievement. On this, I would like to thank Minister Groser for his leadership and relentless support. Our gratitude also goes to the negotiation teams of both sides for their hard work in bringing this agreement to fruition.

     I look forward to an even closer relationship on all fronts between Hong Kong and New Zealand and wish our businesses every success!

     Thank you.

Ends/Monday, March 29, 2010
Issued at HKT 19:32


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