Hong Kong Set to Further Ties with ASEAN
Hong Kong submitted a request this week to join the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA). According to the city’s financial chief John Tsang, the objective is to increase business interaction by helping traders to further access the regional market. Tsang also reported to lawmakers at the city’s Legislative Council, that Hong Kong’s proposed accession is being considered by ASEAN member states that are currently performing internal studies and consultations regarding the matter. So far the situation appears optimistic, as evidenced by a research report produced by the Asia Strategy and Leadership Institute that projects Hong Kong’s inclusion with the ASEAN FTA will spur employment within the regional bloc, and increase its exports to China by almost 28 percent. Specifically, the ASEAN’s finance, insurance, construction, food processing, electronic industries, and business services are the sectors expected to benefit the most from further interaction.
Tsang stated that, “the government’s work in this area is of particular importance to the development of the modern trading and logistics industry,” and promised to continue lobbying and collaborating with the Honk Kong Trade Development Council and local trade associations to diversify the city’s export network and bolster communications between Hong Kong, the ASEAN businesses, and other emerging markets. In a visit to Hong Kong in 2011, China’s Vice Premier Li Keqiang reinforced the proposed agreement by pledging to further open the mainland to Hong Kong’s service trade, and to strengthen the city’s status as an international finance center by building Hong Kong into a focal point for offshore trading of Chinese currency.