Hong Kong’s CE vis­its Myan­mar, seek­ing to pro­mote Belt and Road

The Myanmar Times - - Business - THOMP­SON CHAU t.chau@mm­times.com

HONG Kong’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam is cur­rently vis­it­ing Myan­mar in an ef­fort to step up its en­gage­ment with ASEAN and is ex­pected to pro­mote Bei­jing’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

Mrs Lam will be speak­ing at the 14th World Chi­nese En­trepreneurs Con­ven­tion (WCEC) on Septem­ber 16, which is held by the Yan­gon-head­quar­tered Myan­mar Chi­nese Cham­ber of Com­merce (MCCC). She will also meet with of­fi­cials in Nay Pyi Taw and con­duct vis­its to busi­nesses in Yan­gon dur­ing her stay, be­fore fly­ing back to Hong Kong on Septem­ber 17.

ASEAN and the city an­nounced the con­clu­sion of ne­go­ti­a­tions on a free trade agree­ment (FTA) re­cently. The ASEAN-HK FTA is ex­pected to be signed in Novem­ber this year.

Busi­nesses in Myan­mar told The Myan­mar Times that they be­lieve the FTA would fa­cil­i­tate in­ward in­vest­ments into Myan­mar and pro­vide much-needed cap­i­tal, par­tic­u­larly in in­fra­struc­ture, man­u­fac­tur­ing and prop­erty sec­tors.

In its press re­lease, the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment noted that it sees the strength­en­ing of ties with ASEAN as a pri­or­ity.

The city’s in­creased in­ter­ac­tion with the re­gional bloc is widely seen by Hong Kong and in­ter­na­tional in­vestors as a strategy to com­ple­ment China’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive, since her as­sump­tion of of­fice in July, has vis­ited Sin­ga­pore and Thai­land. The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive was on the agenda when Mrs Lam met with Sin­ga­pore Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong and Thai Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha dur­ing her vis­its. The gov­ern­ment, which al­ready has a pres­ence in Sin­ga­pore, has opened a new trade of­fice in Jakarta ear­lier this year, and will add an­other one in Bangkok.

In Fe­bru­ary, the Hong Kong Trade De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil (HKTDC) led a del­e­ga­tion to Myan­mar. The del­e­ga­tion head Peter Wong told The Myan­mar Times in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view that the BRI would spark the in­ter­est of in­vestors world­wide to come to the coun­try.

More re­cently, Mrs Lam said dur­ing HKTDC’s Belt and Road Sum­mit on Mon­day that ASEAN economies and ge­og­ra­phy make the re­gional bloc a key part of Bei­jing’s grand de­sign.

“Not only is ASEAN strate­gi­cally lo­cated on the Belt and Road routes, the re­gion’s emerg­ing economies are seen as fu­ture driv­ers of the re­gional and global econ­omy.

“Un­doubt­edly, ASEAN will con­tinue to be a fo­cal point for the Belt and Road, with a num­ber of ma­jor col­lab­o­ra­tive projects al­ready un­der way in the re­gion,” she said.

The WCEC will take place on Septem­ber 15-18 in Yan­gon. MCCC mem­bers said that they plan to lever­age the upcoming busi­ness con­ven­tion as a plat­form to at­tract in­vest­ments for in­fra­struc­ture projects from Chi­nese in­vestors from abroad.

The theme for the con­ven­tion will be “Achiev­ing his­tor­i­cal mile­stones through eco­nomic lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of Myan­mar” with two em­phases: ASEAN and the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. Busi­nesses hope to ex­change in­for­ma­tion and draw up strategies on nav­i­gat­ing the emerg­ing risks and op­por­tu­ni­ties in the BRI as well as in ASEAN’s eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion.

Photo: EPA

Hong Kong’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam de­parts af­ter a flag rais­ing cer­e­mony of the na­tional and re­gional flags con­cludes on the 20th an­niver­sary of the han­dover of sovereignty from the UK to China on 01 July 1997.

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