HK welcomed to economic pact

Economic ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states today welcomed Hong Kong’s interest in seeking accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.   They welcomed Hong Kong's decision in a joint media statement after the Fifth ASEAN Economic Ministers - Hong Kong, China Consultations, which was co-chaired via video conferencing by Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau and Brunei Darussalam Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance & Economy II Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah.   The ministers considered that Hong Kong is well placed to add value to the economic partnership, noting that the city has already established free trade agreements with 13 of the 15 participating partnership economies.   Mr Yau reiterated that Hong Kong’s entrance into the partnership would provide an additional platform for promoting trade and investment between ASEAN and Hong Kong. It would also help further consolidate the regional supply chain through providing more access and choices of high-quality services to enterprises in the region, which enable businesses to fully benefit from regional economic integration. Furthermore, it would encourage investment flows and stimulate regional economic growth.   At the meeting, he also exchanged views with the economic ministers on possible areas for co-operation to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.   Free, open trade and investment facilitate the efficient distribution of vaccines and related goods, Mr Yau pointed out, adding that a well-functioning and effective multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization as its core, is instrumental to tackling the enormous economic challenges posed by the pandemic.   Noting the dramatic change in consumers’ buying habits from shopping at physical stores to purchasing online, he called for intensified co-operation between Hong Kong and ASEAN to grasp this fast-growing business model and build a strong, efficient and effective regional supply chain.   The online conference also took stock of the key co-operation areas since the meeting last year and noted the progress made on various fronts, including the full entry into force of the free trade agreement and investment agreement between Hong Kong and ASEAN in February.   Mr Yau thanked ASEAN member states for their continued support and participation in events organised by Hong Kong to promote closer economic co-operation, ranging from the high-level webinars in the past two years to the latest edition of the Belt & Road Summit held on September 1.   Bilateral trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN, the city’s second largest trading partner, continued to record robust growth in the face of the pandemic. In the first half of 2021, the value of trade in goods between the two sides jumped by 21% year-on-year, reaching $589.7 billion.

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