LCQ12: Impacts of protests in Taiwan on Hong Kong's economic and trade co-operation with Taiwan
Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, to a question by the Hon Tam Yiu-chung in the Legislative Council today (May 7):
Earlier on, a large number of students and people in Taiwan have objected to the implementation of the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services (TiSA) signed by the cross-strait authorities, and TiSA has also caused huge controversies in Taiwan. There are comments that as Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, such controversies may hamper the further development of economic and trade co-operation between Hong Kong and Taiwan. In addition, some anti-TiSA groups in Taiwan have disseminated in their publicity materials a lot of inaccurate or even misleading remarks and information which attribute the various problems currently faced by the Hong Kong society to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) signed by the Hong Kong Government with the mainland authorities, while deliberately making no mention of the benefits brought about by CEPA to Hong Kong, thereby misleading the people in Taiwan and seriously tarnishing the image of Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the authorities are currently discussing or have plans to discuss with Taiwan's authorities the signing of any co-operation agreement to further promote the economic and trade co-operation between Hong Kong and Taiwan; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether they have studied if the aforesaid controversies will have any negative impact on the promotion of economic and trade co-operation between Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as the related discussions; if they have studied and the outcome is in the affirmative, whether the authorities have discussed with Taiwan's authorities the corresponding measures to minimise such negative impact; if they have not studied, of the reasons for that; and
(2) whether the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Cooperation and Promotion Council established through Government's efforts and the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office set up by the Government in Taipei have taken the initiative to refute, through the Internet, social networks, media in Taiwan and placement of advertisements in Taiwan, the aforesaid misleading publicity about Hong Kong; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
(1) Over the years, Hong Kong and Taiwan have established close trade relations. For merchandise trade, Hong Kong and Taiwan were each other's fourth largest trading partner in 2013, with total bilateral merchandise trade amounting to around HK$339.3 billion. For trade in services, Taiwan was Hong Kong's fifth largest trading partner in 2012, with the total value of trade in services reaching HK$55.9 billion.
The HKSAR Government has all along been actively promoting economic co-operation between Hong Kong and Taiwan in the areas of trade, investment and tourism, etc, and will continue to do so in future. In the coming year, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council Taipei Office will continue to promote trade ties between Hong Kong and Taiwan through different activities such as trade fairs, outbound missions, seminars, as well as to promote Hong Kong's services industries, and encourage Taiwan brands to co-operate with Hong Kong companies so as to leverage on Hong Kong's services platform to jointly tap the overseas and Mainland markets. Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) will continue to step up its promotional efforts in Taiwan and organise various activities to encourage and assist Taiwan companies to set up or expand their business in Hong Kong. On tourism, Taiwan is currently Hong Kong's second largest visitor source market. The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and its Taipei office will continue to strive to attract vacation visitors from Taiwan, and increase resources for promotion in second-tier cities in Taiwan (including Taichung, Kaohsiung and Tainan) having regard to the increase in the number of direct flights to Hong Kong from these cities. The HTKB will also continue to strengthen co-operation with Taiwan to promote the development of cruise tourism in both places. For example, the HKTB, together with the Taiwan tourism promotion authorities, launched the Asia Cruise Fund in April 2014, which will, in the coming three years, provide financial incentive to international cruise lines for supporting part of their costs in marketing and product development, thereby assisting these cruise lines to better promote their cruise products featuring the two ports. This is conducive to encouraging international cruise lines to include Hong Kong and Taiwan in their Asian cruise itineraries, and increasing the number of ship calls covering the two ports. The HKTB also plans to organise talks with online travel agencies in Tainan and Kaohsiung between June and July 2014, with a view to attracting more visitors from Taiwan to Hong Kong.
With close economic and trade relations and complementary economic structures, there is huge potential for further development of economic and trade ties between Hong Kong and Taiwan. A comprehensive and institutionalised economic and trade co-operation arrangement could provide certainty in policies and strengthen confidence of investors. The business sectors of both sides have indicated support for Hong Kong and Taiwan to actively explore the establishment of a comprehensive framework for economic and trade co-operation. The HKSAR Government has expressed our wish to the Taiwan side, through the platform of the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Cooperation and Promotion Council (ECCPC) and the Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council (THEC), to forge with them a closer economic and trade co-operation arrangement, and has exchanged views and discussed with the Taiwan side at the working level. We would continue to follow-up with the Taiwan side through the ECCPC-THEC platform with a view to starting substantive discussions as early as possible.
(2) One of the functions of the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan (HKETCO) is to maintain close liaison with various sectors in Taiwan (including the local media), and to publicise Hong Kong's latest developments on economic and trade, cultural and social fronts to the Taiwan community through multiple channels. These channels include arranging media interviews and reports, holding meetings or talks with the Taiwan political, business, social and academic sectors, organising fora and seminars on specific topics, producing publications promoting Hong Kong's strengths and opportunities for co-operation with Taiwan, and disseminating information about Hong Kong on its website, etc. The HKETCO will, where necessary, formulate relevant publicity messages that address the sporadic biased or even untrue reports in certain Taiwan media, to enable the Taiwan community to have a full and accurate understanding of the actual situation in Hong Kong.
As the platform for Hong Kong to discuss co-operation on public policy matters with Taiwan, the ECCPC is committed to promoting multi-faceted and multi-level exchanges between the two places. Besides continuing to facilitate the relevant authorities of both sides to take forward various co-operation initiatives, the ECCPC will continue to participate in different types of exchange activities, so as to promote the advantages of Hong Kong on many fronts and further exchanges between the two places.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Issued at HKT 11:42