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CS visits Canberra (with photos)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, spent a day in Canberra, Australia, today (September 16), meeting senior federal government officials and parliamentarians.

     In the morning, Mrs Lam called on the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development and Leader of the National Party of Australia, Mr Warren Truss. She expressed her gratitude to the Australian Government for hosting her first official visit to Australia as the Chief Secretary for Administration. Mrs Lam briefed Mr Truss on the latest developments in Hong Kong and discussed with him a wide range of bilateral issues, including Hong Kong's trade and economic relations with Australia.

     Mrs Lam said, "Australia and Hong Kong are both strong advocates of trade and investment liberalisation. An Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and a comprehensive avoidance of double taxation agreement (CDTA) will further facilitate the flow of goods, services, investment and people between the two places, bringing about significant economic benefits. We look forward to the Australian Government's positive consideration and an early agreement to commence negotiations on the FTA and the CDTA."
     Mrs Lam then called on the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament, Mr Tony Smith, to provide an update on the latest developments of Hong Kong. They exchanged views on the respective challenges faced by the Hong Kong legislature and the Australian Parliament.

     Mrs Lam attended a meeting, followed by lunch, with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Ms Julie Bishop, to discuss the recent challenges and opportunities in Hong Kong.

     "Hong Kong and Australia have been enjoying close ties in a wide range of areas. Hong Kong is home to about 90,000 Australians. We also have around 550 Australian firms based in Hong Kong and a further 1,000 Australian companies with representative offices in Hong Kong. With Hong Kong's strategic role as a 'super-connector' between Mainland China and the rest of the world, our position as a key offshore Renminbi centre and the 'Belt and Road' initiative promulgated by the Central Government, there are certainly a lot of opportunities for Australian companies to collaborate with their Hong Kong partners, and this is why an FTA and a CDTA between Australia and Hong Kong make perfect sense," she said at the meeting.

     In the afternoon, Mrs Lam toured the National Museum of Australia, where she learned about the history and development of Australia. She then returned to Parliament House, where she observed Question Time at the House of Representatives from the Special Visitors' Gallery. Afterwards, she met with representatives of the Parliamentary Hong Kong Friendship Group, an informal group of the Federal Parliament comprising parliamentarians from both houses who share an interest in promoting closer links between Australia and Hong Kong. Mrs Lam updated members on the recent developments of Hong Kong on various fronts. They also discussed possible areas for deeper collaboration.

     Prior to her departure for Sydney in the evening, Mrs Lam also called on the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Ms Tanya Plibersek.

     Mrs Lam will start the last leg of her Australian visit in Sydney tomorrow (September 17). She will call on senior officials and receive a briefing on the infrastructure development plan in Sydney and visit an urban renewal project. She will also meet with Hong Kong people working and living in Sydney and officiate at the premiere performance of "The Legend of Mulan" by the Hong Kong Dance Company at the Concourse Theatre in the evening.

Ends/Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:13


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