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ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement connects opportunities and stimulates growth (with photos)

     Hong Kong, as the gateway to the Mainland China market, would continue to make the most of its cross-boundary connectivity to foster economic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (ASEAN-HK FTA) would be the ideal platform for connecting opportunities and stimulating further integration and growth, said the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, in Myanmar today (May 12).

     Mr So was one of the panellists making a special address during the session "ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) - Creating Regional Prosperity, Resilience and Opportunities" of the 11th ASEAN Leadership Forum programme held in Nay Pyi Taw.

     "The AEC is a powerful tool to create regional prosperity, resilience and opportunities. The strengths of the AEC lie in the combined strengths of individual members of ASEAN and in the strength of the bond that connects them.

     "To sail before the wind of globalisation, it is only natural for ASEAN member states to form the AEC to gain momentum and develop gravitas in the global economy," Mr So said.

     Mr So noted that the AEC must be outward looking, and had to establish seamless connectivity with world markets, including traditional markets such as Europe and the United States as well as emerging markets such as Mainland China.

     On the implications of the AEC to Hong Kong, Mr So said, "The establishment of the AEC turns a new page in the bilateral relationship between ASEAN member states and Hong Kong."

     ASEAN is Hong Kong's second largest trading partner in goods and fourth largest in the world for services. With the support of the Central Government, Hong Kong has secured ASEAN's consent to pursue a free trade agreement with Hong Kong and formal negotiations would commence shortly.

     "The ASEAN-HK FTA will not only help focus the attention of entrepreneurs on the substantial market opportunities available, but also provide a stable and transparent framework for commerce and industries to flourish and collaborate efficiently and effectively.

     "Furthermore, with the Central People's Government's policy of helping enterprises in both the Mainland of China and Hong Kong to 'go global' together, the potential investment from the Mainland of China to ASEAN through Hong Kong would be enormous.

     "The complementarity and synergy so generated by closer economic integration would help create a bigger pie for ASEAN and Hong Kong," Mr So noted.

     Mr So said he hoped that negotiations on the ASEAN-HK FTA could be concluded as early as possible so that both sides could reap the benefits of the FTA very soon.

     Today in Nay Pyi Taw, Mr So also took the opportunity to have bilateral meetings with the Minister of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia, Dato' Sri Mustapa Mohamed; the Minister of Commerce of Myanmar, Mr U Win Myint; and the Minister of National Planning and Economic Development cum Secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission, Dr Kan Zaw, to discuss issues of mutual concern.

    Mr So will tomorrow (May 13) go to Yangon, where he will visit the site of a redevelopment project involving a Hong Kong listed company, and a garment manufacturing company owned by a Hong Kong businessman. He will have meetings with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, as well as with prominent members of the business community, to learn more about the business environment there.

     Mr So will return to Hong Kong on May 14.

Ends/Monday, May 12, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:01


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