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Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Gregory So, met with the Singaporean and Philippine trade ministers on October 4 and 5, respectively, to discuss the progress of the Hong Kong-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.
At the meetings, So exchanged views with his counterparts on the negotiations and emphasized the importance of the FTA in strengthening economic ties between Hong Kong and ASEAN by facilitating the flow of goods, services, and investments.
In August this year, the economic ministers from the ten ASEAN member countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) said that the FTA is on track to be concluded in 2016.
It has been noted previously by So that, when completed, the FTA will, together with the Mainland China-ASEAN FTA and the Mainland-Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), "provide a solid platform to facilitate trade and investment among Hong Kong and ASEAN countries." It will eliminate or reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and will also include preferential rules of origin; liberalized rules for trade in services; and the liberalization, promotion, and protection of investment.
After the conclusion of the FTA negotiations with ASEAN, Hong Kong is expected to seek to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, currently being negotiated between ASEAN and its six FTA partners – Mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and India.
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