HONG KONG, Spet. 19 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming signing of a free trade agreement between China's Hong Kong and ASEAN will further boost cooperation between the two sides under the Belt and Road Initiative, said a speaker at a forum on Hong Kong-ASEAN economic relations held here on Tuesday.
The 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) jointly announced earlier this month that they are to sign in November the ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement and the ASEAN-Hong Kong Investment Agreement.
Speaking on the prospect of the Hong Kong-ASEAN FTA, Jonathan Choi, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, said that the FTA, which covers trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, as well as dispute settlement mechanism, will bring new business opportunities for the two sides and will help Hong Kong explore the rapidly growing consumer market of ASEAN.
Choi made the remarks at the Hong Kong-ASEAN Summit 2017, a forum organized by local radio Metro Finance on the economic and trade relations between Hong Kong and ASEAN.
More than one speaker at the forum talked about the growing share of Asia in the global economy and the increasing importance of the area to Hong Kong.
"The shift in gravity (towards Asia) is speeding up, and this is the biggest structural change" currently in global economy and trade, said one of the speakers, David Carbon, chief economist of DBS bank, who also emphasized ASEAN's increasing importance to Hong Kong.
Closer Hong Kong-ASEAN economic and trade relations will further promote the two sides' cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, Choi said, adding that Hong Kong could play the roles of connector, investor and operator in its cooperation with ASEAN members in projects related to the Belt and Road Initiative.
Professor Chen Kwan Yiu, chairman of HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education, said in the opening speech at the forum that to be a "regional super-connector" along the Belt and Road routes, Hong Kong needs better management of its external economic relations and the signing of Hong Kong-ASEAN FTA is one of the relevant measures.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative 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.