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Hong Kong and ASEAN to pursue Free Trade Agreement

     Hong Kong and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to pursue a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the Government announced today (April 26).

     "The establishment of an FTA with ASEAN is in line with Hong Kong's strategic goal of strengthening economic partnership with the 10 member states of ASEAN," the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, said.

     Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world. The 10 member states of ASEAN collectively are Hong Kong's second largest partner in terms of goods trade and fourth largest in services.

     "The FTA will enhance trade and investment flows between ASEAN and Hong Kong, generate new opportunities for our businesses, and boost economic growth in the longer term," Mr So added.

     The Government is now discussing with ASEAN the preparatory work for formal negotiations. The FTA is expected to cover the following major areas:

(a) elimination and/or reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers;
(b) preferential rules of origin;
(c) liberalisation of trade in services;
(d) liberalisation, promotion and protection of investment; and
(e) dispute settlement mechanism

     The Government will conduct a public consultation to better gauge the interests of our businesses in the ASEAN market.

     Hong Kong originally put forward a request to ASEAN for joining the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. ASEAN counter-proposed engaging Hong Kong bilaterally for a Hong Kong-ASEAN FTA. The Chief Executive in Council decided to accept ASEAN's counter-proposal.

     ASEAN comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ends/Friday, April 26, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:29


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