Published: 15:57, May 18, 2024 | Updated: 16:02, May 18, 2024
Yau: HK firmly supports rules-based multilateral trading system
By Wang Zhan in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau Ying-wah (front row, second right) speaks at a discussion session on “Trade Liberalisation: World Trade Organization” at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Arequipa, Peru, May 17, 2024. On his left is Director-General of Trade and Industry Maggie Wong. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

Hong Kong’s commerce chief has stressed that the city remains steadfast in supporting the rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization at its core.

“Recognizing that every step of the progress contributes to the larger tapestry of global economic cooperation, we are committed to working together with WTO members to invest in the negotiations and bolster institutional functions of the WTO,” Algernon Yau Ying-wah said on Friday.

He was sharing his insights on how to reinforce the WTO's credibility and ensure its continued relevance in the evolving global trade landscape at a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade in Arequipa, Peru.

READ MORE: Yau urges fully functioning WTO dispute settlement system

Speaking at the discussion session on "Trade Liberalisation: World Trade Organization (WTO)", he stressed that a pressing priority for the WTO is to restore by 2024 a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system accessible to all WTO members.

Together we must push forward with the early incorporation of such plurilateral initiatives into the WTO's legal framework and encourage more WTO members to join the agreements.

Algernon Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, HKSAR

The secretary for commerce and economic development called on APEC member economies to expedite discussions in an inclusive and transparent manner in order to achieve concrete outcomes as they agreed in the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi.

“The WTO must demonstrate its capability to formulate rules addressing the complex challenges of today's global trading scene,” he said citing the Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce and the successful conclusion of the negotiations for the Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement.

“Together we must push forward with the early incorporation of such plurilateral initiatives into the WTO's legal framework and encourage more WTO members to join the agreements.”

The extension of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions at MC13 preserved the facilitating environment for all businesses, in particular for micro, small and medium enterprises and women-led enterprises, to continue pursuing cross-border trade and deepening their presence in the global market which is now deeply ingrained in e-commerce, he said.

“Going forward, the extension of the moratorium deserves the support of APEC member economies as we continue to engage in useful dialogues to refine the relevant framework and trading environment.”

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Yau and trade ministers of other APEC member economies also attended a joint meeting with ministers responsible for women to discuss women's economic empowerment through trade.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau Ying-wah (front row, second left) meets with Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations of Singapore Grace Fu (front row, second right) on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Arequipa, Peru, May 17, 2024. Director-General of Trade and Industry Maggie Wong (front row, first left) also attended the meeting. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau Ying-wah (right) meets with the Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan Taku Ishii (left) on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Arequipa, Peru, on May 17, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

He said lowering the cost of doing business or streamlining procedures through the use of technology, and wider digitalization of trade can help women start and develop their businesses.

READ MORE: 'New WTO disciplines to cut red tape, costs for HK firms'

Pointing out that Hong Kong has been implementing various measures on this front, he called on APEC member economies to help accelerate this transformation through collaborative efforts to open up new opportunities for women to participate in trade.

Yau also met with Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan Taku Ishii and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations of Singapore Grace Fu on the sidelines of the APEC event to exchange views on issues of mutual concern.