HK signs free trade pacts with ASEAN

2017-11-13 01:46:50 GMT2017-11-13 09:46:50(Beijing Time) Sina English

Hong Kong signed free trade and investment pacts with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations yesterday. It was, in the words of one of the city’s senior officials, a “loud and clear” vote against rising regional trade protectionism.

The pacts, which conclude nearly three years of talks, are expected to take effect on January 1 at the earliest, and aim to bring “deeper and bolder” integration of market access with the bloc, said Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s commerce and development secretary.

“In the face of protectionist sentiments in other parts of the world, these two agreements are in fact a loud and clear vote from all of us here for freer and more open trade,” Yau said.

“Hong Kong, being a free trade promoter and advocate of a strong, rule-based multilateral trading system, will continue to take this pathway, continue to do our utmost.”

Total merchandise trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN was HK$833 billion (US$107 billion) last year, official figures show. Total services trade was HK$121 billion in 2015.

The ASEAN Hong Kong China Free Trade Agreement was signed on the sidelines of a summit of the regional grouping in Philippine capital Manila.

It came after leaders attending an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, agreed to tackle “unfair trade practices” and “market distorting subsidies” in a statement issued on Saturday.

While Hong Kong already has one of the world’s freest and most open economies, the pacts will see many ASEAN countries gradually eliminate or slash customs duties on goods from Hong Kong. Professional services are also expected to benefit, with increased investment flows, Yau added.

(Agencies)

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