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Hong Kong to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with Australia
     Hong Kong will pursue a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia, the Government announced today (April 27).
     The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, said, "Australia is an important trading partner of Hong Kong. It was Hong Kong's seventh largest services trading partner in 2015, and 19th largest merchandise trading partner in 2016. Bilateral trade in services between Hong Kong and Australia amounted to HK$41 billion in 2015, and our bilateral trade in goods amounted to HK$52 billion in 2016. A bilateral FTA with Australia will be instrumental in fostering closer economic relationship between the two economies. It will also provide a platform for our traders and investors to exploit the untapped business opportunities and further expand their businesses in this important market."
     "On the macro level, the Asia Pacific region is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. On top of our existing FTAs signed with the Mainland and New Zealand, preferential trade and investment treatments to be negotiated with Australia will expand our economic foothold in the region," he added.
     It is envisaged that the FTA with Australia will include, among others, the following key elements:
(a) elimination or reduction of tariffs;
(b) reduction of non-tariff barriers;
(c) preferential rules of origin;
(d) customs facilitation procedures;
(e) better market access for trade in services;
(f)  promotion and protection of investment; and
(g) legal and institutional arrangements, including a dispute settlement mechanism for the FTA. 

     The two sides may also explore additional commitments in such areas as intellectual property rights, government procurement and competition.
     So far, Hong Kong has signed four FTAs respectively with the Mainland, New Zealand, the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Chile. Hong Kong is now negotiating FTAs with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Georgia and Maldives, and is discussing a closer economic partnership arrangement with Macao.
     To assist the Government in formulating its strategies and positions in the negotiation with Australia, a consultation document has been prepared and can be accessed at the Trade and Industry Department website (www.tid.gov.hk/english/aboutus/noticeboard/australia_agreement.html). Interested parties are invited to put forward their views and suggestions on areas to be covered in the FTA on or before May 27 by mail (Trade and Industry Department, Room 1325, 13/F, Trade and Industry Tower, 3 Concorde Road, Kowloon City), fax (2789 9761 or 2789 2491) or email (fta@tid.gov.hk).
Ends/Thursday, April 27, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:02
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