Hong Kong's financial chief John Tsang said Wednesday in his budget speech that the city is determined to further business interaction with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"With our country's strong support, Hong Kong has submitted to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations a request to join the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA) to assist our traders to further tap into the emerging Southeast Asian market," Tsang told lawmakers at the city's Legislative Council.
According to Tsang, ASEAN member states are currently considering Hong Kong's proposed accession, and conducting internal consultations and studies.
Tsang said the Hong Kong government supports local enterprises to tap ASEAN markets, facilitating trade flows and promoting economic development. The government's work in this area is of particular importance to the development of the modern trading and logistics industry.
"We shall continue our lobbying work, and collaborate with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and local trade associations to organize more business missions and discussion forums to enhance interaction between Hong Kong and ASEAN businesses," he continued.
To further diversify Hong Kong's export network, Tsang said the government should continue it's efforts to strengthen trade links with ASEAN and other emerging markets.
According to a research report from the Asia Strategy and Leadership Institute, Hong Kong's participation in the ASEAN FTA is projected to further bolster employment within the regional bloc and could bring about a 28 percent increase in its exports to China. It will principally benefit the ASEAN's food processing, electronic industries, finance, insurance, construction and business services.
China's Vice Premier Li Keqiang
pledged during his visit to Hong Kong in 2011 that the mainland will open the door wider to Hong Kong's service trade, strengthen Hong Kong's status as an international financial center, and build Hong Kong into an offshore trading center of the Chinese currency renminbi.
Li also promised to support Hong Kong in its bid to participate in international and regional economic cooperation.