H.E. Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN, visited Hong Kong last week at the invitation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.
During his visit, the Secretary-General met with high level officials who briefed him on Hong Kong’s policies on trade and intellectual property rights, as well as the activities of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. Discussions focused on the continuing development of Hong Kong as a city, the dominance of services in Hong Kong’s economy—including financial services—and the success of Hong Kong’s anti-corruption drive which is critical to its role as an international business hub.
The Hong Kong officials emphasised ASEAN’s importance to Hong Kong both as a rapidly growing economic region and as an organisation. With ASEAN now as Hong Kong’s second biggest trading partner after mainland China, there is much interest to pursue broader and deeper economic cooperation with ASEAN. The Secretary-General and the Hong Kong officials were of the view that an ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) could yield mutual benefits. Preparations for the proposed AHKFTA negotiations are now underway, after the endorsement by the ASEAN Economic Ministers at the 19th AEM Retreat last March 2013 in Viet Nam.
SG Minh also gave a keynote address on “The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) – What Progress Has Been Made and What Are Its Prospects?” at the Credit Suisse Asia Investment Conference (AIC). He shared ASEAN’s accomplishments in terms of the regional economic integration and community building agenda, as well as the remaining challenges in establishing the AEC by 2015. He also highlighted that 2015 represents the start of a new phase for ASEAN and the challenge is to develop the framework for enhanced ASEAN economic integration for the next ten years (AEC 2016-2025) in order to achieve a truly seamless economic community.
The visit was undertaken under the Sponsored Visitors’ Programme, which invites eminent personalities from around the world and provides them with a comprehensive overview of Hong Kong’s government, economy and current affairs.