Transcript of remarks by CE at media session in Dubai (with photos/video)
Reporter: Could you explain a little bit more, what are the obstacles of luring Aramco (Saudi Aramco) to do a secondary listing in Hong Kong? You just said that they raised questions or concerns on certain areas. What are they? And the second question, are you suggesting that you're going to visit ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries as your next destinations, and have no plans to visit Europe or the United States in near future?
Chief Executive: Well, first of all, I didn't use the word "concerns". I said we discussed when we met senior officials including the Chief Executive Officer of the Aramco, we talked about issues of mutual interest. I introduced to them the strengths and advantages of Hong Kong in finance, and also in economic potentials. These are the areas that both parties wanted to talk about, and these are the areas of mutual interest. I'm very glad that the atmosphere was positive, and both agreed that we should continue close communication, so that we will be able to help each other understand the things that we want to know more about. So I think that was a positive communication.
As regards our relationship with our neighbouring ASEAN countries, I think it is important because it is one of my main objectives to promote and strengthen Hong Kong's development and co-operation with the world. And in the interests of trying to obtain the best result in the shortest period of time, I have to prioritise. Obviously, the Middle East countries have been so successful in recent years in economic development, and strengthening the co-operation with neighbouring countries and also countries in other parts of the world. This is an opportunity that I think I should capitalise for the overall benefit of Hong Kong, and the development of the potentials of Hong Kong to participate in the development of another country's overall programme. So my next destination will likely be countries of ASEAN, because they are close neighbours, and the trade and relationship have been strong. I want to raise it to an even stronger position and also want to capitalise on the good relationships, so that we will have more support in our accession to RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement), which is another important economic and commercial relationship with our neighbours.
I think what is important is we need to tell the world Hong Kong has overcome the trouble of COVID, which troubled us for the past three years, and we are fully open and we are fully connected to Mainland cities, and we are ready for action to promote not just ourselves, but to welcome other people to come to Hong Kong to develop their markets and enhance our co-operation.
Reporter: So what are the concrete results from this trip, can you tell us a bit more? And when can we expect some actual co-operation between Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and the UAE? And my second question, when you arrived you said that one of your goals is to assist Aramco to list in Hong Kong. Since we haven't seen any agreement so far, are you happy with the progress?
Chief Executive: Well, we have, I think, made a lot of fruitful results as a result of the visit. First of all, the Hong Kong government and the Saudi Arabia government have agreed to start our negotiation about an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. So that is a very good result between the two governments. We have also agreed with the government of the UAE to start discussing the issues that we want to cover in respect of green and sustainable finance and co-operation. On the people-to-people and the business-to-business sides, we have signed altogether 13 Memoranda of Understanding or Letters of Intent in regard to co-operation and they cover a wide range of areas, including IT (innovation and technology), business, professional services, logistics, etc. But this is only the immediate result. What is also important is the follow-up of this visit, which not just includes the follow-up of the agreements, Memoranda of Understanding or Letters of Intent, but also the further relationship and co-operation potential that will develop as a result of this visit.
I have described our visit as a visit of strengthening friendship, as a visit of further promoting the strengths and advantages of Hong Kong, and as a visit to enhance potential for other countries, industries or companies from the Middle East to come to Hong Kong. So all these added together means that we have strengthened our relationship, and not just government-to-government, but also people-to-people, business-to-business.
We have already informed the whole world, through this visit, that Hong Kong has fully opened up, ready to get into a lot of businesses in different areas. And Hong Kong is the place for people to seriously consider, not just in investment, but also in all sorts of possibilities in regard to trade, commerce, professional services, etc. It's also important that the message has been received on Hong Kong's advantage in the "one country, two systems" principle, which means that we are fully connected to the Mainland markets, and also fully opened up to the international world. So this bridge is a strong opportunity for people to grasp. I think these messages have been strongly received by the people that have received at all levels.
I want to add that the purpose of my visit is manifold. I am to tell the world and invite them to come to Hong Kong and this extends to all the people and companies and the entities that we came across at the visit. Then of course, we welcome big companies to come to Hong Kong to invest and equally, we have been meeting senior officials in charge of at least three sovereign funds as well as Aramco. Our invitation and our purpose is open to all. So I want to make it very clear that this is a visit to all the entities, to all the units, all the companies and all the people we met on this occasion.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Friday, February 10, 2023
Issued at HKT 17:00
Issued at HKT 17:00