Hong Kong, ASEAN sign free trade agreement

Asean, Hong Kong ink free-trade deal

ASEAN, Hong Kong sign free trade, investment agreements

The deputy prime minister also reiterated the Malaysian government's continued appreciation to the Chinese community in Malaysia.

Hong Kong has signed a new free trade agreement (FTA) with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is expected to become effective from January 2019.

The agreement covers tariff reductions for Hong Kong exports, as well as a dispute settlement mechanism.

"This agreement is wide and deep", said Yau.

"All ASEAN member states are also economies along the Belt & Road", said Edward Yau, Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, in an official statement by the Hong Kong government.

The Asean region is the second largest commodities-trading partner with Hong Kong-China, and the fourth largest partner for services.

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A commitment from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar will eliminate customs duties of about 65 percent of their tariff lines within 15 years and reduce customs duties of about another 20 percent of their tariff lines within 20 years. In return, Hong Kong will allow tariff-free access for all products originating from ASEAN member states.

Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) and the investment agreement are regarded by both parties as a "clear signal" that the Asean and its trade partners will continue to push back against trade protectionism.

The Special Administrative Region has lately been expanding its participation in China's Belt and Road initiative, launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013 to promote worldwide trade links.

Total merchandise trade between Hong Kong and the Asean amounted to HK$833.3 billion, representing 11 percent of Hong Kong's global merchandise trade in 2016 and registering an annual average growth rate of 3.4 percent per annum between 2012 and 2016.

The leaders of the ten member-states of the ASEAN including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam along with dialogue partners Australia, Canada, China, European Council, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, United States and the United Nations are now in Manila to attend the ASEAN summit.

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