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Published: 12:49, August 21, 2023 | Updated: 18:47, August 21, 2023
SAR calls for continued ASEAN backing for accession to RCEP
By Li Xiaoyun and Wang Zhan in Hong Kong
Published:12:49, August 21, 2023 Updated:18:47, August 21, 2023 By Li Xiaoyun and Wang Zhan in Hong Kong

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau Ying-wah (six left) poses for a group photo with other ministers who attended the seventh Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Ministers - Hong Kong, China (HKC) Consultation in Semarang, Indonesia on Aug 20, 2023. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region needs the continued support of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for the city’s accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership – the world’s largest free trade pact – as the SAR is widely recognized as a proponent of free and open trade, and enjoys fruitful collaboration with ASEAN.

The call came from Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau Ying-wah on Sunday when he co-chaired the seventh Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Ministers - Hong Kong, China (HKC) Consultation with Indonesian Minister of Trade Zulkifli Hasan in Semarang, Indonesia.

Since the ASEAN-Hong Kong, China free trade, and investment agreements were signed in 2017, bilateral trade in goods has grown significantly by 38 percent, reaching a record high of $165 billion last year

Yau said the theme of this year’s ministerial meeting, ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth, is appropriate and well-suited as ASEAN is one of the most dynamic and rapidly developing regions in the world, and Hong Kong is committed to further strengthening its close ties with the 10-member grouping. 

Yau also held bilateral meetings and discussions with commerce officials of the ASEAN member states to explore various trade and economic issues, updating them on Hong Kong’s preparatory work in seeking early accession to RCEP. 

ALSO READ: Emerging ASEAN offers huge opportunities for HK enterprises

“We hope to see the early adoption of procedures for accession by the RCEP Joint Committee to facilitate the launch and early conclusion of substantive discussions with Hong Kong on our accession,” he said.

Since the ASEAN-HKC Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) and the Investment Agreement were signed in 2017, bilateral trade in goods has grown significantly by 38 percent, reaching a record high of $165 billion last year. The SAR’s outward direct investments in ASEAN have also seen a similar growth rate, hitting $77 billion by late 2021.

Yau said the successful implementation of the trade and investment pacts with ASEAN, along with 33 memoranda of understanding and accords signed during Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu’s recent visit to three ASEAN member states, reflects the multifaceted cooperation between Hong Kong and ASEAN. “The challenges facing us are imminent, but we can mitigate the effects when we work together.”

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau Ying-wah (third left) meets with Minister of Trade of Indonesia Zulkifli Hasan (third right) in Semarang, Indonesia on Aug 20, 2023. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

Yau and the ASEAN economic ministers also announced the finalization of the First Protocol to Amend the AHKFTA, which serves to include new product-specific rules of origin in the accord.

The meeting agreed to work for an early implementation of the agreement, thereby enhancing smooth trade between ASEAN and the SAR.

READ MORE: ASEAN visit: HK enters 15 trade deals with Indonesia

Yau also briefed ASEAN officials on how Hong Kong supports small-and medium-sized enterprises through diversified funding schemes, helping these companies to obtain finance and expand into new markets, while strengthening their competitiveness in navigating the ever-changing global and regional economic developments.

Emphasizing Hong Kong’s commitment to collaborate with ASEAN in developing creative, feasible and sustainable solutions to address global challenges, Yau said he’s confident that adversity can be transformed into opportunity, and they can emerge stronger from dealing with all the challenges.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau Ying-wah (first right) meets with Secretary of Trade and Industry of the Philippines Alfredo E. Pascual (first left) in Semarang, Indonesia on Aug 20, 2023. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

On the sidelines of the meeting, Yau held bilateral meetings with Hasan, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Laos Malaithong Kommasith, and ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn to discuss various trade and economic issues.

He also met with Secretary of Trade and Industry of the Philippines Alfredo E. Pascual to exchange views on issues of mutual interest. Yau will return to Hong Kong on Monday evening.


irisli@chinadailyhk.com


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