HK will pursue more FTAs: Minister

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaking at the Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong yesterday. She said in her opening address that the city is in the late stages of setting up its third Asean economic and trade office in Bangkok.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaking at the Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong yesterday. She said in her opening address that the city is in the late stages of setting up its third Asean economic and trade office in Bangkok.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Hong Kong will continue to pursue free trade agreements (FTAs) as trade is not a zero-sum game, said its Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development.

Asked if he has confidence that Hong Kong can withstand the harm arising from trade tensions between the United States and China, Mr Edward Yau said free trade could bring economic prosperity for all. He made the point yesterday on the sidelines of the third Belt and Road Summit where the city inked a free trade deal with Georgia - the first such agreement between Hong Kong and a country in the Caucasus region.

Total merchandise trade between Hong Kong and Georgia totalled HK$320 million (S$55.7 million) last year. Georgia is the city's 121st trading partner in goods.

The FTA signing dovetails with Hong Kong's strategy to reach out to the wider world as it moves towards being a global trading centre. In the past 12 months, it has secured three sets of FTAs with 12 economies including Georgia, more than double the number in the last two decades. The other economies are the Asean members and Macau.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in her opening address at the summit yesterday that Hong Kong is in the late stages of setting up its third Asean economic and trade office in Bangkok.

The summit, organised by the Hong Kong government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, attracted close to 5,000 global participants who discussed various aspects of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), such as green financing and dispute resolution.

In the past 12 months, Hong Kong has secured three sets of FTAs with 12 economies including Georgia, more than double the number in the last two decades.

A signature project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the BRI aims to create a modern Silk Road spanning 60 countries through FTAs and infrastructure projects such as roads, ports and railways.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2018, with the headline 'HK will pursue more FTAs: Minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe