CE calls for HK-Thai­land co­op­er­a­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By SO­PHIE HE in Bangkok so­phiehe@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor called for greater co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Hong Kong and Thai­land on the new econ­omy, and for joint ef­forts to tap into op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, Greater Bay Area and Thai­land’s East­ern Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor.

Lam met Thai Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha on Fri­day morn­ing. The prime min­is­ter con­grat­u­lated Hong Kong on the 20th an­niver­sary of its re­turn to China and in­vited the city to set up a Hong Kong Eco­nomic and Trade Of­fice in Thai­land; the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion opened a sim­i­lar of­fice in In­done­sia at the end of last month.

Speak­ing at a roundtable in Thai­land on Fri­day, Lam said it was a good time to strengthen the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Hong Kong and Thai­land. She is very op­ti­mistic that the Free Trade Agree­ment (FTA) be­tween Hong Kong and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) will be signed and an­nounced be­fore the end of this year.

“This will lay a very im­por­tant foun­da­tion for strength­en­ing trade and in­vest­ment, an­other link­age be­tween Hong Kong and ASEAN in many years to come,” Lam said.

ASEAN is cur­rently Hong Kong’s sec­ond-largest trad­ing part­ner af­ter the Chi­nese main­land. The re­gion con­trib­uted 11 per­cent to Hong Kong’s trade last year, ac­cord­ing to Trade and In­dus­try Depart­ment data.

Hong Kong also serves as a trade en­tre­pot be­tween the main­land and ASEAN. From 2011 to 2015, re-ex­ports orig­i­nat­ing from the ASEAN re­gion through Hong Kong to the main­land grew an av­er­age 5 per­cent a year, gov­ern­ment data shows.

Lam pointed out that the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive — which can in­volve the whole of ASEAN in the Mar­itime Silk Road, the Guang­dongHong Kong-Ma­cao Greater Bay Area and Thai­land’s East­ern Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor projects pro­vide ASEAN firms with ex­cit­ing ini­tia­tives to ven­ture abroad.

“In new eco­nomic sec­tors, where I see a lot of po­ten­tial, we also want to work with Thai­land in th­ese ar­eas, in­clud­ing in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy as well as cre­ative in­dus­try. Thai­land has been do­ing very well, like in the de­sign and de­vel­op­ment of mo­bile and com­puter ap­pli­ca­tions,” Lam said.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Hong Kong Trade De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil and De­part- ment of In­ter­na­tional Trade Pro­mo­tion of Thai­land signed a let­ter of in­tent (LOI) dur­ing Lam’s visit to Thai­land on Fri­day. The LOI aimed to en­hance trade pro­mo­tion and ca­pac­ity-build­ing, fos­ter star­tups, and groom young en­trepreneurs and tal­ents.

A long-awaited FTA be­tween Hong Kong and ASEAN is ex­pected to be signed by the end of this year, and ASEAN en­ter­prises are urged to use Hong Kong as a gate­way to tap the Chi­nese main­land mar­ket. Hong Kong can ren­der pro­fes­sional ser­vices to ASEAN com­pa­nies.

There were 547 ASEAN en­ter­prises in Hong Kong as of June last year, ac­count­ing for 6.8 per­cent of for­eign com­pa­nies in Hong Kong, while 54 of them es­tab­lished head­quar­ters in the city, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­sus and Sta­tis­tics Depart­ment.

Hong Kong has al­ready signed var­i­ous agree­ments with Malaysia in 2009 and Thai­land in 2013 to en­hance eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the city and ASEAN.

We also want to work with Thai­land in th­ese ar­eas, in­clud­ing in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy as well as cre­ative in­dus­try.”

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor

IN­FOR­MA­TION SER­VICES DEPART­MENT

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (back, sec­ond left), Thai­land’s Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs Don Pra­mud­winai (back, first right) and other of­fi­cials wit­ness the sign­ing of a let­ter of in­tent be­tween the Hong Kong Trade De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil and Thai­land’s Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Trade Pro­mo­tion in Bangkok on Fri­day. The let­ter aims to en­hance trade pro­mo­tion and ca­pac­ity build­ing, fos­ter star­tups and groom young en­trepreneurs and tal­ents.

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