Hong Kong has signed free trade and investment pact with Asean with the aim of tackling unfair trade practices and market distorting subsidies and give expression to Hong Kong’s vote against rising regional trade protectionism and in favor of free and more open trade.
Asean is a 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The grouping includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The pact concludes nearly three years of discussion and is expected to take effect from January 1. They aim is to bring deeper and bolder integration of Hong Kong’s market access with the bloc. They reflect a consensus favoring multinational deals.
Hong Kong is a free trade promoter and an advocate of a strong, rule-based multilateral trading system. Total merchandise trade between Hong Kong and Asean was $107 billion last year. Total services trade was $16 billion in 2015. While Hong Kong already has one of the world’s freest and most open economies, the pacts will see many Asean countries gradually eliminating or slashing customs duties on goods from the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.