ASEAN developments

Milestone agreements: Hong Kong and ASEAN

Hong Kong signed free trade and investment agreements with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Developments reflect a loud and clear vote against rising protectionism.

The new agreements between Hong Kong and ASEAN conclude nearly three years of talks and are expected to take effect on January 1, 2019, at the earliest. The objective is to bring deeper and bolder integration of market access to the participating nations. 

The total merchandise trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN in 2016 was HK$833 billion ($107 billion). Total trade in services in 2015 was HK$121 billion. Both the free trade and the investment agreement were signed on the sidelines of a summit of the regional grouping in the Philippines in November. The partnership between the nations is expected to deliver greater trade synergies and more job opportunities for people and businesses in the region.

Official ASEAN announcement of November 12 

Economic Ministers from ASEAN member states and the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of Hong Kong, China (HKC), signed the ASEAN-HKC Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) and the ASEAN-HKC Investment Agreement (AHKIA) on November 12, 2017, on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Pasay City in the Philippines. The negotiations of AHKFTA and AHKIA were concluded three years after they began in July 2014. 

Participating ministers noted that the AHKFTA is ASEAN’s sixth free trade agreement with external partners, following those with China, Korea, Japan, India, and Australia–New Zealand. It consists of fourteen chapters covering broad areas of market access liberalization, trade facilitation, rules to promote confidence in trade, and cooperation aimed at facilitating trade in goods and services in the region. The AHKIA complements the AHKFTA by covering the protection, promotion, and facilitation of investment. 

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations includes the countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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