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Hong Kong to commence Free Trade Agreement negotiation with Australia

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, together with the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment of Australia, Mr Steven Ciobo, announced at a breakfast event today (May 16) the official launch of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiation between Hong Kong and Australia.

The FTA between Hong Kong and Australia will foster economic development between the two economies, and is conducive to strengthening Hong Kong's role as an international trade, commerce and financial centre.

"Australia is a very important trading partner of Hong Kong. Hong Kong and Australia have respective strengths in different business areas, in which some are complementary to each other. We see tremendous room for us to further our co-operation and deepen our trade and economic liberalisation with a view to bringing our economies to new heights," Mr So said.

He added that the Hong Kong, China - Australia FTA will be instrumental in providing a new platform for enhancing capital flow, innovation, interaction between professionals and R&D (research and development) collaborations which are the cornerstones for the two economies to venture into new frontiers and stay ahead in globalisation.

It is envisaged that the FTA with Australia will include, among others, the following key elements:

(a) elimination or reduction of tariffs;
(b) reduction of non-tariff barriers;
(c) preferential rules of origin;
(d) customs facilitation procedures;
(e) better market access for trade in services;
(f) promotion and protection of investment; and
(g) legal and institutional arrangements, including a dispute settlement mechanism for the FTA.

The two sides may also explore additional commitments in such areas as intellectual property rights, government procurement and competition.

So far, Hong Kong has signed four FTAs respectively with the Mainland, New Zealand, the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Chile. Hong Kong is now negotiating FTAs with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Georgia and Maldives, and is discussing a closer economic partnership arrangement with Macao.


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