MANILA — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) signed on Sunday trade and investment agreements as part of the region’s efforts to expand economic relations.
The two agreements — the ASEAN Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) and ASEAN Hong Kong, China Investment Agreement (AHKIA)–were signed during the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, who is also chair of as the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting described the signing of the two agreements as a “historic juncture” as it marked a “deeper commitment towards shared prosperity and inclusive growth in the region.”
“With this signing on the occasion of the 31st ASEAN Summit, we send a strong message to the world of our outward-oriented pride and economic resolve towards cooperation,” Lopez said in his speech at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.
Lopez said that through the two agreements, he is confident that ASEAN and Hong Kong can unlock “tremendous potential on regional economic integration.”
Moreover, he said that he is hopeful that it would “foster a more open, opportune environment for our people and the generations to come.”
Lopez added that HKC (Hong Kong, China) is one of the word’s leading trade powerhouses and the sixth largest trading partner of ASEAN.
“As such, a strategic partnership between ASEAN and HKC will surely usher in greater trade synergies and more job opportunities for people and businesses and the region particularly for the micro-SMEs (small and media enterprises) in the region,” he added.
He said that in forming this agreement, ASEAN has not only made a milestone in free trade engagement but also “built friendship and trust with HKC along the way.”
HKSAR’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau, for his part, said that the agreements will bring about “new business opportunities.”
“The signing of the agreement 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,” Yau said.
Yau, meanwhile, encouraged more ASEAN enterprises to trade and invest with Hong Kong.
It may be recalled that the agreements were reached during the ASEAN Economic Ministers-Hong Kong consultations held last September