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CE attends APEC CEO Summit

The Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, said today (November 9) at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government would continue to strive to promote free trade and proactively formulate various policy initiatives beneficial to people's livelihood to ensure that people from all walks of life can reap the benefits of the opening up of the economy.

After arriving at Da Nang this morning, Mrs Lam, accompanied by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, hosted a lunch for Hong Kong, China's representatives to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), Mr Anthony Nightingale, Dr Allan Zeman and Dr Jonathan Choi, to thank them for reflecting the concerns of Hong Kong's business sector in ABAC over the years. ABAC was established in 1996 as a permanent business advisory body to provide advice to APEC on business sector priorities.

In the afternoon, Mrs Lam attended a discussion session of the APEC CEO Summit on new frontiers in trade and spoke on issues including the impact of globalisation on economic development as well as the rising trend of trade protectionism. Speakers of this session also include the President of Peru, Mr Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and two other business leaders.

Noting at the discussion session that Hong Kong has over the years been one of the freest and most open economies in the world, she said that Hong Kong has benefitted immensely from free trade which is instrumental in developing the city into an international trade and business centre as it is today.

Mrs Lam said that free trade is blamed for various social problems from time to time, giving rise to trade protectionism. Emphasising that Hong Kong will continue to promote free trade, she said that every government should at the same time actively formulate policy initiatives and measures to respond to different social issues, including maintaining people's standard of living, so that they can benefit from free trade and economic development.

She said that Hong Kong has been allocating a lot of resources in areas ranging from education and training to social security and medical services, and will lower the profits tax rate for small and medium enterprises. These measures, which she regarded as investment for the future, enable society to better adapt to the changing economic environment, while the returns will provide the Government with more resources to improve people's livelihood in the future.

Pointing out that Hong Kong has always been a staunch supporter of free trade and a rule-based multilateral trading system, Mrs Lam said she believed that Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) which are free and open in nature could facilitate regional trade and serve as building blocks for the liberalisation of multilateral trade. Hong Kong has already signed FTAs with a number of places and will soon enter into an FTA and a related Investment Agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. She believed that all members of APEC would not just set their sights on their own interests, instead, they would work together to promote free trade for the benefit of the world as a whole.

Mrs Lam also reckoned that the Belt and Road Initiative advocated by China will strengthen ties and mutual access amongst those countries along the Belt and Road and other countries, giving new impetus to free trade all over the world.


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