LCQ5: Hong Kong's participation in Belt and Road Initiative
The State President, in his speech on July 1 this year, mentioned that Hong Kong's distinctive status and advantages must be maintained, and remarked that the Central Government fully supports Hong Kong in its effort to expand and facilitate its exchanges with the world, as well as actively dovetail itself with the national strategies such as high-quality Belt and Road development. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of Hong Kong's contribution in its participation in the investment and financing for the infrastructure projects in the Belt and Road countries and regions since it became a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2017 (including whether the expected contribution has been achieved), and what plans are put in place to enhance the degree of its contribution;
(2) whether it has considered conducting a review on the Government's achievements in respect of its efforts in the past three years to dovetail with the Belt and Road development, and formulating an upgraded version of its implementation plans for dovetailing with the Belt and Road Initiative; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether it has considered helping the Belt and Road countries to establish different types of economic development zones by copying the successful experience of the Mainland in establishing economic development zones, as well as initiating some distinctive "Mainland-Hong Kong-Belt and Road countries" projects on economic co-operation and development zones, so as to facilitate Hong Kong's industrial restructuring; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has been earnestly promoting the community to advance Hong Kong's participation in and contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative (B&RI) by signing agreements with relevant countries; taking forward collaborations in the areas of trade and investment, international finance and cultural exchanges; as well as promoting Belt and Road project participation by Hong Kong enterprises and professional services. We have endeavoured to leverage Hong Kong's advantages to meet our country's needs. Our efforts are being fully recognised by the Central Authorities.
In proactively pursuing the cause, the HKSAR Government will continue to make the fullest of our unique advantages under the "one country, two systems". With the "dual circulation" development strategy of our nation and the support of the National 14th Five-Year Plan, we will better integrate Hong Kong into the national development and proactively align with the National 14th Five-Year Plan. Taking the opportunities brought about by the B&RI, Hong Kong will proactively become a participant in domestic circulation and a facilitator in international circulation. We will give full play to Hong Kong's role as the functional platform for Belt and Road, and endeavour to enhance the community's understanding of the Initiative.
My reply to the three parts of question raised by the Dr Hon Tan Yueheng is as follows:
(1) The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) commenced operation in 2016, with a mission to enhancing connectivity amongst Asian economies and fostering sustainable economic development through investments in infrastructure. Since Hong Kong became a non-sovereign member of the AIIB in 2017, we have actively participated in the work of the bank. Apart from actively attending meetings and discussions relevant to the AIIB's work on governance and other aspects in our capacity as one of the Governors, we have seconded staff to the AIIB to support its work on legal, financial, administration and human resources management aspects. We made a US$10 million contribution to the AIIB Project Preparation Special Fund in 2019 to assist low-income countries in carrying out technical preparation work for pursuing infrastructure projects. In addition, Hong Kong's professional services providers have over the years provided procurement services amounting to over US$10 million, covering auditing, consultancy, information technology and staff development, etc, to the AIIB.
Since its commencement of operation, the AIIB has successfully approved 190 projects, assisting over 30 economies to build facilities of energy, transportation, health, water supply, education, etc. In future, we will continue leveraging Hong Kong's strengths as an international financial and business centre to provide support to the work of the AIIB. That include continuing the discussion with the AIIB on ways to make good use of Hong Kong's advantage to facilitate its treasury management work; encouraging the AIIB to raise funds through Hong Kong's capital markets, for example issuing bonds; and promoting Hong Kong's world class professional services such as accounting, legal and mediation and arbitration services to AIIB projects.
(2) and (3) Regarding the second and third parts of the question, the HKSAR Government has adopted a whole-government approach in taking forward the B&RI. Relevant bureaux and departments are committed to formulating measures in different areas in pursuing the B&RI, including in expanding international economic and trade networks; promoting collaboration and project participation by Hong Kong enterprises and professional services; strengthening government-to-government (G-to-G) collaboration; and enhancing policy co-ordination with the Central Authorities. From time to time, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) had reported progress to the Commerce and Industry Panel of the Legislative Council and heeded Members' views.
The Chief Executive has just announced in his Policy Address the establishment of a Steering Group on Integration into the National Development. CEDB will render full support to the related work of the Steering Group by taking an overall review of the work progress by different bureaux and departments in pursuing the Initiative since its announcement in 2013. We will strategically plan the next stage of work on this basis so as to formulate measures to enhance co‑operation with Belt and Road related countries in areas of trade and commerce, professional services and cultural exchanges, with a view to better supporting our nation's Belt and Road development.
In the coming year, with gradual resumption of social and economic activities, CEDB will actively roll out different initiatives and enhance the G-to-G collaboration, including co-organising seminars/webinars at the government level with Belt and Road related countries to promote the participation of more enterprises and professionals from different sectors. We will continue to establish and make use of exchange and collaboration platforms, including the annual Belt and Road Summit, exchange and sharing sessions for enterprises, and project matching meetings to facilitate Hong Kong enterprises and professional services to seize Belt and Road opportunities. Conditions permitting, we will resume business and professional missions to Belt and Road related countries, e.g. ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Middle East. Moreover, we will proactively explore with the Ministry of Commerce (MofCom) on organising further joint missions.
I would like to thank the Dr Hon Tan for raising the successful experience of Mainland's economic development zones. The HKSAR Government has indeed successfully engaged MofCom in identifying five overseas Economic Trade and Co-operation Zones (ETCZs) in ASEAN as pilots. They are Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (Malaysia), Thailand-China Rayong Industrial Park (Thailand), Kawasan Industri Terpadu Indonesia-China (Indonesia), CFLD Karawang New Industry City (Indonesia) and Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (Cambodia). Hong Kong enterprises are encouraged to capitalise on these ETCZs for Belt and Road business development.
In this connection, a Memorandum of Understanding on enhancing exchanges and co-operation in promoting high-quality development of ETCZs was signed between the HKSAR Government and MofCom in September last year. In addition, CEDB and the Commercial Office of the Economic Affairs Department of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government (LOCPG) in the HKSAR had jointly organised two webinars and an online focus networking session, which introduced the general business environment and development situation of the ETCZs concerned, and lined them up with Hong Kong enterprises.
Looking ahead, pursuant to the principle of "government providing guidance, enterprises taking the lead, and market-oriented operation", the HKSAR Government will continue to encourage Hong Kong enterprises to invest and set up businesses at ETCZs, and strengthen their interfacing. At the same time, CEDB will again jointly organise with the Commercial Office of the Economic Affairs Department of the LOCPG in the HKSAR an online exchange session on ETCZs in end November this year. It will highlight the latest development, related operation arrangements and supporting facilities at Long Jiang Industrial Park in Vietnam, PT Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park and Laos Vientiane Saysettha Development Zone, with a view to encouraging Hong Kong enterprises to co-operate with more ETCZs and Belt and Road countries to share and build on Belt and Road opportunities.
Ends/Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Issued at HKT 16:00
Issued at HKT 16:00