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SCED speaks on visit to Cambodia
     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, at a media session on his visit to Cambodia after attending a business luncheon seminar entitled "Hong Kong: Your Partner in Exploring New Business Opportunities" in Phnom Penh, Cambodia today (March 20):

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: Friends of the media, thanks for joining us today. I'm very happy to come to this beautiful country of Cambodia. Coming to the end of the two-day visit, we came here yesterday with a 48-member delegation from Hong Kong. This is a very high level and well-represented delegation, composed of presidents and chairmen of the major chambers of commerce in Hong Kong. They also include leaders of professional service organisations in Hong Kong from lawyers, accountants, bankers, real estate developers, architects and designers. We have also included in this delegation industrialists from Hong Kong who are seeking to relocate their production lines to this part of the world, plus, last but not least, start-ups and young entrepreneurs who are from technology-based companies. These delegates are coming here for one single purpose - to see if there could be possible collaborations between Hong Kong and Cambodia. As we all know, Hong Kong and Cambodia's trade and economic relations are scaling new heights since the signing of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement and a related investment agreement. These two agreements lay down a very strong groundwork for Hong Kong businessmen to come over to do investment, to do trading and to provide services which are needed in this part of ASEAN countries. We take Cambodia, which being central to ASEAN, as the first country for our visit. 

     We are particularly impressed with Cambodia's openness and easy-trading environment. In our meeting with your Minister of Commerce and also the Minister for Public Works and Transport, we have heard that Cambodia offers huge opportunities, especially as your country invests in infrastructural developments from railways to port developments, which helps connect much more efficiently with the region. 

     Hong Kong is an international city where we pride ourselves as a centre that serves not just our own population but also the region. The professional services, in particular from legal to accounting and insurance, are there to serve major trade deals between Hong Kong and the rest of the world. We also see an epic advantage as China goes out along the Belt and Road Initiative. We see Hong Kong being the gateway, the springboard and also the crucial link in connecting investment between China and other parts of the world. Typically, what Hong Kong can do is to provide the needed services to make sure that all these trade deals would be able to find sufficient and appropriate financing or to have professional services helping businessmen from different parts of the world connecting together. So I hope this visit will open a new door for Cambodian businessmen and Hong Kong professionals to connect with each other. We have also extended our invitation to your Government and your trading community to come to Hong Kong at the end of June when Hong Kong will host the annual Belt and Road Summit, where we will be receiving investors from all over the world using Hong Kong as a marketplace to connect these businesses. 

     The Cambodian-Hong Kong relationship is not just trade and business. Actually, our partnership also extends to other facets of our society. When I came in on the plane yesterday, I bumped into a group of secondary school students from Hong Kong coming to visit this country. Of course, there are a lot of Hong Kong people coming here as tourists. Last year, we have seen the Royal Ballet of Cambodia coming to Hong Kong to perform in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Today we have brought along five young artists performing a mix of Chinese and Western music. All these exchanges, be they initiated by the Government or by individual organisations or youth communities, are there to serve the longer-term link between Hong Kong and Cambodia. So I wish this link can be further strengthened as we trade and interact more and as more people come to visit each other.

Reporter: Is there any agreement achieved during your trip?

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: Not directly this time because we have recently signed the ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement together with a related investment agreement, so that we have already laid down the groundwork where for instance, Hong Kong goods coming to ASEAN would enjoy lower tariffs. Hong Kong is a tariff-free and duty-free city - we don't impose any tariffs. But more importantly, in those agreements, it also opens up the market access for Hong Kong professional services in Cambodia and ASEAN. As the economy (of Cambodia) continues to grow and also with more infrastructural developments, what Cambodia needs is not just investment or trade, but also professional services, so that many of these major infrastructural developments could be serviced by professionals from Hong Kong. For instance, I heard yesterday you have a number of railway projects and port developments. Those would require project financing which Hong Kong can offer as a financial centre. And also, when entering into major mega deals, you might need to have contracts between investors and contracting partners. Those contracts could be drafted by Hong Kong lawyers, and also using Hong Kong as the place where these contracts come into operation. And also in businesses, sometimes we can't prevent certain risks or disputes. It would be useful to determine, for instance, dispute settlement rights at the start, and Hong Kong offers arbitration services in that regard. So that opens up a lot of opportunities between the two places.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Issued at HKT 18:58
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