CE calls for HK-Thailand cooperation
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
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.