by Zhao Qing
HONG KONG, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- The signing of the Hong Kong-ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA) will bring ample opportunity for the development of Hong Kong, said Jonathan Choi, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Chinese General Chamber of Commerce.
China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Sunday signed the FTA and a related document on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN summit held in Manila, the Philippines.
The signing of the Hong Kong-ASEAN FTA will open the door to the big market of Southeast Asia for Hong Kong, creating enormous opportunity in trade and investment, Choi told Xinhua in a recent interview.
It will also further promote the economic, trade and investment integration between the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and ASEAN, he said.
The FTA negotiations between Hong Kong and ASEAN commenced in July, 2014 and concluded in September of this year.
The FTA and the related investment document cover a wide range of areas, such as trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation and dispute settlement mechanisms, according to Choi.
Hong Kong can fully enjoy the outcomes brought by the ASEAN FTA thanks to the signing of the agreements, he said.
With the economic growth of the ASEAN member countries, Choi said the bloc will also grow into a big import and consumer market while continuing to maintain its advantages in such fields as resources and exports.
Therefore, the ASEAN member countries are bound to bring enormous opportunity in trade and investment to Hong Kong, he noted.
The chairman said China and ASEAN have worked out an updated version of the FTA between the two sides and the Belt and Road Initiative has been making steady progress in many regions of the world, including Southeast Asia.
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.
Choi said Hong Kong can give full play to the unique advantages of the "one country, two systems" and get involved in the Belt and Road Initiative so as to jointly move forward the economic, trade and investment integration between the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and ASEAN.
According to Choi, since reform and opening up of the Chinese mainland nearly 40 years ago, Hong Kong has been its biggest source of investment.
He said that in the country's ongoing "going global" campaign, over 60 percent of the mainland's investments went out via Hong Kong and many countries invested in the mainland also through Hong Kong.
In recent years, with the steady progress of the Belt and Road Initiative in Southeast Asia and other regions, Hong Kong has been playing a triple role of connector, investor and operator in the process.
The chairman also spoke highly of the plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which has been included into the national 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), saying the plan will greatly boost Hong Kong's development.
Choi said he foresees a bright future for Hong Kong, as it is well on board the express train of the national development.