SEAN, Hong Kong Ink Free Trade Agree­ments


ZAM­BOANGA CITY (Dis­patches) - The As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) and China’s Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion (HKSAR) signed on Sun­day free trade and in­vest­ment agree­ments on the side­lines of the 31st ASEAN Sum­mit in Manila.

ASEAN and HKSAR sealed two agree­ments; the ASEAN Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agree­ment and ASEAN Hong Kong, China In­vest­ment Agree­ment, said a re­port by state-run Philip­pine News Agency.

Philip­pine Sec­re­tary of Trade and In­dus­try Ra­mon Lopez said the agree­ments in­di­cated “deeper com­mit­ment to­wards shared pros­per­ity and in­clu­sive growth in the re­gion” and would help the re­gional bloc and Hong Kong un­lock the “tremen­dous po­ten­tial of re­gional eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion”.

“With this sign­ing on the oc­ca­sion of the 31st ASEAN Sum­mit, we send a strong mes­sage to the world of our out­ward-ori­ented pride and eco­nomic re­solve to­wards co­op­er­a­tion,” Lopez said in a speech dur­ing the sign­ing cer­e­mony.

Lopez noted that Hong Kong was one of the world’s lead­ing trade pow­er­houses and ASEAN’s sixth largest trad­ing part­ner.

A strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween ASEAN and Hong Kong will “usher in greater trade syn­er­gies and more job op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple and busi­nesses and the re­gion,” he added.

HKSAR’s Sec­re­tary for Com­merce and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Ed­ward Yau said the sign­ing of the agree­ment was “just a start”.

“From now on, Hong Kong and all our ASEAN friends will have am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to meet and re­view our trade and in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

The lead­ers of the ten mem­ber-states of the ASEAN in­clud­ing Brunei, Cam­bo­dia, In­done­sia, Laos, Malaysia, Myan­mar, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land, and Viet­nam along with di­a­logue part­ners Aus­tralia, Canada, China, Euro­pean Coun­cil, In­dia, Ja­pan, New Zealand, Rus­sia, South Korea, United States and the United Na­tions are cur­rently in Manila to at­tend the ASEAN sum­mit.

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