HK chief executive leads delegation to Mideast to deepen cooperation
Published: Feb 05, 2023 08:17 PM
John Lee Ka-chiu Photo: CFP

John Lee Ka-chiu Photo: CFP

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)'s Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu is leading a delegation to visit the Middle East, aiming to deepen economic and trade cooperation with countries in the region and exploring opportunities under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The high-level delegation led by Lee has more than 30 representatives from various fields, aiming to promote the HKSAR and seek business opportunities in Saudi Arabia, while strengthening the city's role as a "facilitator" and "participant" of the BRI and seeking to play such a role in the Middle East, an important link of the initiative, Lee said after arriving in Riyadh on Sunday local time. 

Lee noted that he will visit local oil giant Saudi Aramco to encourage the company to list shares or operate through different forms in Hong Kong, an international financial hub with professionals that welcomes sovereign funds or companies for free capital flows. The city will intensify efforts to attract more technology start-ups, Lee said. 

As 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI, Lee stressed earlier on Saturday that his visit to the Middle East is a positive move for Hong Kong to actively participate in the initiative.

Analysts said that the Middle East holds a huge potential for Hong Kong to expand economic cooperation under the framework of the BRI. 

China has been deepening cooperation with Arab countries in key sectors such as trade, energy and finance with strengthened ties, while the influence of the US has been weakening, Liang Haiming, president of the Belt and Road Research Institute of Hainan University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Liang said that the UAE is the only Arab country among Hong Kong's top 20 trade partners, and there is still huge potential for greater cooperation. 

The HKSAR's exports to the UAE increased 35.3 percent year-on-year in 2022, official data showed. 

Lee started his first official visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Saturday, hoping to forge economic ties by offering opportunities in Hong Kong and telling Hong Kong's story.

In addition to its powerful advantages in finance and investment, Hong Kong's central position for innovation and cultural exchange will provide unlimited opportunities for cooperation, Lee noted on Saturday. 

After concluding the visit in Saudi Arabia on Monday, Lee will head to the UAE and return to Hong Kong on February 11, according to a statement from the HKSAR government.
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (ETO) in Dubai commenced operation on October 28, 2021, marking the SAR's first ETO in the Middle East region, with the opening of the office set to strengthen Hong Kong's economic and trade cooperation with the region. 

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce will have an in-depth dialogue with Lee and his delegation while signing relevant cooperation documents, per a statement sent to the Global Times by the chamber's China office. 

Liang said that Hong Kong can develop more yuan-denominated financial products targeting Arab countries, as the city is the world's biggest offshore yuan center. This would be beneficial to elevate the internationalization of the yuan, while boosting Hong Kong's economic development, he said. 

Global Times