Speech by SCED at signing ceremony of Hong Kong, China - ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and Investment Agreement in the Philippines (English only)
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, at the signing ceremony of the Hong Kong, China - Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Agreement and a related Investment Agreement in the Philippines today (November 12):
Minister Lopez (the Secretary of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, Mr Ramon Lopez ), fellow Ministers, Secretary-General of ASEAN (Mr Le Luong Minh), distinguished guests,
It is my great pleasure to join this significant moment that marks the signing of the Free Trade Agreement and Investment Agreement between Hong Kong, China and ASEAN.
This is an important milestone in the bilateral trade and investment relations between Hong Kong, China and ASEAN Member States. Today, ASEAN is our second largest merchandise trading partner and the fourth in services trade. But the best is yet to come.
The Agreements are significant and comprehensive, as evident by the extensive scope of fourteen chapters and commitments that spread across 4,000 pages. The commitments will bring legal certainty, better market access, and fair and equitable trade and investment opportunities. These will bring about new business opportunities and boost our trade and investment flows. The Free Trade Agreement also has a chapter on economic and technical co-operation which aims to enhance the benefits of the agreement with capacity building and technical assistance.
With these Agreements in place, I encourage and expect to see more ASEAN enterprises to trade with and invest in Hong Kong. Being one of the world’s freest economies buttressed by the rule of law and an independent judiciary, Hong Kong has many fundamental strengths that have stood the test of time. We also have a simple and low tax regime, high-quality services, a skilled and talented workforce with global vision, and free flow of information and capital.
The signing of the Agreements is 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 as well as initiatives with a view to promoting even deeper and broader economic integration as well as social integration.
Their significance is not limited to building stronger bilateral trading and economic relationship between Hong Kong, China and ASEAN. In face of rising protectionist sentiments in other parts of the world, these two agreements are in fact a loud and clear vote from all of us here for free and open trade.
Last but not least, I would like to thank our host, the Philippines and all ASEAN Ministers for your personal and dedicated support in making these agreements possible. Our gratitude also goes to the negotiation teams of both sides for their very hard work over the last few years, and to our Thai Co-Chair of the Trade Negotiation Committee for steering the negotiation process. I took this opportunity to thank you all and hope to see you all in ASEAN countries as well as in Hong Kong.
Ends/Sunday, November 12, 2017