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Free Trade Agreement between Hong Kong and Member States of European Free Trade Association to enter into force

     The Free Trade Agreement (the Agreement) between Hong Kong and the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA States), namely Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, will soon enter into force, a government spokesman announced today (September 28). The part of the Agreement involving Hong Kong and Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland will enter into force on October 1, 2012, while the part involving Hong Kong and Norway will enter into force on November 1, 2012.

     The Agreement, signed on June 21, 2011, is Hong Kong's first free trade agreement with European economies. It covers a wide range of areas including trade in services and goods as well as investment, and other trade-related issues such as protection of intellectual property.

     Under the Agreement, the EFTA States will eliminate tariffs on all industrial products as well as fish and certain marine products originating in Hong Kong. Processed agricultural products of Hong Kong origin will also enjoy tariff concessions when imported into the EFTA States.

     On trade in services, Hong Kong service providers and the services they provide will enjoy better business opportunities and legal certainty in market access as well as non-discriminatory treatment in the EFTA States markets in a wide range of service sectors. These encompass areas in which Hong Kong has traditional strengths, such as telecommunications services, financial services, logistics services including maritime transport services, audiovisual services, and various professional and business services. They also include areas identified with potential for further development in Hong Kong, namely education services, environmental services, medical services, innovation and technology, cultural and creative industries, and testing and certification services.

     In terms of market access, there will not be any restrictions on foreign capital, the number of service providers or operations, the value of service transactions, the number of persons employed, types of legal entity or joint venture requirements for various service sectors in the EFTA States markets. For some service sectors where such requirements have to be in place for regulatory or other reasons, the requirements will not become more restrictive than the level agreed in the Agreement. Hong Kong service providers and the services they provide in a wide range of sectors will be treated no less favourably than their counterparts in the EFTA States as well as other economies under similar circumstances.

     To facilitate movement of business persons, without compromising legitimate immigration control, business visitors, intra-corporate transferees, installers or maintainers, contractual service suppliers and independent professionals of Hong Kong will be granted temporary entry into the relevant EFTA States in accordance with the commitments of individual EFTA States.

     To facilitate mutual investment flows and expand related economic activities, the Agreement provides investors in non-service sectors with legal certainty on national treatment, facilitates their temporary entry into and stay in the EFTA States, and provides them with safeguards on movement of capital and other aspects. These complement the Agreement's provisions on trade in services.

     To enjoy the preferential tariff treatment granted under the Agreement for exporting Hong Kong goods to the EFTA States, Hong Kong traders need to comply with the preferential rules of origin and fulfil the relevant requirements. For details, please refer to the relevant trade circulars issued by the Trade and Industry Department (TID):¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@

     Details of the Agreement, including its full text, can be accessed at the TID website:

Ends/Friday, September 28, 2012
Issued at HKT 11:01


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