In this screenshot made from a video published by the government, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu delivers a video speech at Hongqiao International Economic Forum High-level Session "RCEP Spurs Higher-level Opening Up", Nov 5, 2022.
HONG KONG – As the world's largest free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is an exciting opportunity that Hong Kong very much looks forward to, the leader of the special administrative region said on Saturday.
“This is why I announced in my Policy Address last month that we are actively pursuing early accession to RCEP,” John Lee Ka-chiu said in a video speech delivered at Hongqiao International Economic Forum High-level Session "RCEP Spurs Higher-level Opening Up".
Pointing out that Hong Kong is one of the world's most externally oriented and open economies, he said Hong Kong is an advocate of free trade, like all RCEP members.
Congratulating RCEP member economies “for bringing the momentous Free Trade Agreement into force in January this year”, Lee said the trade pact provides a basis for broader regional integration through improvements in market access, more coherent trade facilitation and regulatory rules and co-operation.
Against the headwind of unilateralism, we shall reaffirm our strong and unwavering commitment to free and open trade.
John Lee, Chief Executive, HKSAR
RCEP members account for nearly 30 percent of the world's total trade volume, he said, adding that they accounted for over 70 percent of Hong Kong’s total merchandise trade in 2021. Till date, the city concluded FTA with 13 of the 15 RCEP members.
The SAR government submitted the formal accession request in the same month when RCEP came into force, he said. “Our accession to RCEP will further strengthen our business ties with all RCEP members. It will also bring our mutually rewarding relations to a new height.”
Hong Kong is well placed to add value to RCEP in many unique ways, said Lee.
“As I have told an audience of top global financial leaders in Hong Kong this week, we possess extensive advantages for investors, including a business-friendly environment, a highly regulated system for financial services, as well as a simple and low tax regime,” he added.
Saying that Hong Kong’s membership of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is strong testimony to the city’s unique advantages under "one country, two systems”, Lee said he would be in Bangkok in two weeks' time to attend this year's APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting to tell the good and true stories of Hong Kong, to showcase the city’s unwavering commitment to promoting regional economic co-operation, as well as its “unparalleled resilience in the face of the pandemic”.
The SAR is eager to join hands with other APEC member economies to forge high-standard and comprehensive regional undertakings, to rebuild confidence and to deliver a more open, reliable and predictable trade and investment environment, he said.
“Against the headwind of unilateralism, we shall reaffirm our strong and unwavering commitment to free and open trade,” Lee said, calling for working together to achieve a higher level of openness and make good use of all available opportunities to exchange views “on how to strengthen our resolve to sustain an open world economy”.