Hong Kong will pursue more free trade agreements, says official

The Hong Kong based CSCL East China Sea container ship sits in a berth at the Port of Oakland on June 20, 2018 in Oakland, California.
The Hong Kong based CSCL East China Sea container ship sits in a berth at the Port of Oakland on June 20, 2018 in Oakland, California.PHOTO: AFP

Hong Kong - 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 on Thursday (June 28) 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 signing of the FTA dovetails 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, the city 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 Asean and Macau.

Chief executive Carrie Lam said in her opening address at the summit on Thursday 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, risk management and dispute resolution.

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.