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Budget Speech

Market Access

65.    We have strived to open up new markets for Hong Kong's enterprises by fostering closer ties at G2G level, and protect the interests of business people through trade agreements.  The ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which enjoy rapid economic growth, are Hong Kong's second largest trading partner in terms of goods and fourth largest in terms of services.  We shall vigorously pursue the upcoming negotiations of a free trade agreement with ASEAN.

66.    We have signed 17 Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements so far.  The negotiations with Bahrain and Myanmar were concluded last year, and those with Russia and Chile will proceed this year.

67.    We shall continue to help Hong Kong enterprises develop once again the traditional European and American markets, which are on their way to recovery.  The relevant Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) have organised large-scale promotional events, arranged exchange visits and explore other means to promote bilateral trade and investment, and encouraged European and American enterprises to capitalise on Hong Kong's position as the gateway to the Asia-Pacific market.  All these activities seek to secure the best opportunities for the Hong Kong business sector.

68.    Hong Kong has always been a staunch supporter of the multilateral trading system.  At the end of last year, the World Trade Organization (WTO) held the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, and reached the first-ever multilateral trade agreement since its establishment.  As Chairman of the Sixth Ministerial Conference, I am deeply encouraged.  This trade agreement will rationalise the import/export and customs formalities and procedures of over 150 WTO members.  It will help reduce costs and bring economic benefits worth around US$1 trillion.  Hong Kong's importers and exporters as well as the logistics industry will stand to benefit directly while enterprises in general can also achieve cost savings in customs clearance when exporting their products.



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