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USCED shares Hong Kong's efforts in supporting SMEs at 15th ASEAN Leadership Forum

     Hong Kong has been supporting its small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to build brands, upgrade their products and services through trade promotion, and advertise in and join trade fairs and exhibitions outside the city, the Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Dr Bernard Chan, said at the Economic Ministers Roundtable of the 15th ASEAN Leadership Forum held in Singapore today (April 28).

     Dr Chan shared Hong Kong's efforts in supporting SMEs at the Economic Ministers Roundtable themed "Shape of Future Economic Integration – Making ASEAN More Relevant and Resilient to Business and SMEs". He said SMEs are an important driving force in Hong Kong’s economic development as they account for over 98 per cent of the total business units and provide job opportunities to about 1.3 million people.

     "In our recently released Budget, we have injected a total of US$300 million to help SMEs for such promotional activities, and one specific measure is to allow them to use this fund to go to ASEAN, in addition to Mainland China," Dr Chan said.

     He said the Government also offers support to SMEs through the Trade and Industry Department (TID) by providing three funding schemes, namely the SME Loan Guarantee Scheme, the SME Export Marketing Fund and the SME Development Fund, which help SMEs secure loans, expand markets outside Hong Kong and enhance overall competitiveness.

     The Hong Kong Trade Development (TDC) also gives tremendous support to SMEs to grasp the business opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative. Apart from launching a Belt and Road Portal to provide enterprises with up-to-date and comprehensive market intelligence, the TDC also introduces to SMEs the opportunities and networking events under the Belt and Road Initiative through outreach missions, seminars, industry associations and reference information from the TDC SME Centre, and encourages Hong Kong companies to enhance their connections with businesses in the Mainland or overseas and to expand their business networks.

     Meanwhile, Dr Chan took the opportunity to reinforce Hong Kong–ASEAN relations at the Roundtable. "Hong Kong and ASEAN have long been enjoying close bilateral commerce relations. We treasure ASEAN as our very important trading and investment partner, as exemplified by the trade figures. ASEAN is Hong Kong's second largest trading partner with merchandise trade exceeding US$120 billion in 2017. Many of the individual ASEAN Member States are key trading partner of Hong Kong," he said.

     He noted that the conclusion and signing of the Free Trade Agreement and the related Investment Agreement opens a new chapter for the bilateral trade and investment relations between ASEAN and Hong Kong. The agreements will bring about legal certainty and better market access for the trade in goods and services as well as investment protection to Hong Kong investors. They will also help reduce restrictions in doing business in ASEAN and offer significantly more business opportunities for Hong Kong enterprises and service providers in the ASEAN markets.

     After attending the forum, Dr Chan will deliver welcome remarks at a gala dinner for participants of the ASEAN Leadership Forum to be hosted by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Singapore this evening.

     Dr Chan will return to Hong Kong tomorrow (April 29).

Ends/Saturday, April 28, 2018
Issued at HKT 14:23