Asean to sign free-trade deal with Hong Kong in November

Asean to sign free-trade deal with Hong Kong in November

 10 Sep 2017 – 0:04

(L-R) Dato Sri Mustapa Mohammed, Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry, Myanmar’s Minister of Planning and Finance Kyaw Win, Philippine Undersecretary of Trade and Industry Ceferino Rodolfo, Thailand’s Director General Department of Trade Negotiations Boonyarit Kalanamit, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Tran Qouc Khanh, link arms during the opening ceremony of the 49th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Ministers’ meeting in Manila on September 7, 2017. AFP / Ted Aljibe

Manila:  The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is to sign a free-trade agreement with Hong Kong in November, a Philippine government official said yesterday, following three years of talks. Hong Kong also completed negotiations on an investment pact with ASEAN, said Philippine Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo.

“This would… send a positive signal for the international community of ASEAN’s resolute commitment to free trade and open markets,” Rodolfo told reporters.

ASEAN, an economic bloc with a combined population of more than 600 million, is Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner after mainland China, according to the territory’s Trade and Industry Department website.

Hong Kong also acts as an important entrepot for trade between mainland China and ASEAN, an economic grouping made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.It has remained a separate customs entity from mainland China since the city’s 1997 handover by Britain.

ASEAN members have established a free-trade area among themselves aiming to slash tariffs on most goods to zero and minimise non-tariff barriers. They have also signed free-trade deals with key trading partners such as Japan and China.

Rodolfo said the Hong Kong deals are to be signed in November, when the Philippines hosts an ASEAN summit.

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