Supplementary Question on Legislative Council Meeting – Q4 Assisting Hong Kong businessmen in developing external economic and trade relations & Q6 Assisting the tourism industry in tapping business opportunities

Q4 Assisting Hong Kong businessmen in developing external economic and trade relations

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):

President, RCEP is proposed to deal with the development of economic globalization and regional economic integration. However, in view of the fact that the World Trade Organization’s negotiations for promoting global free trade were blocked, and in response to some negative impacts of economic globalization, there is a need to promote regional economic integration if we are to achieve economic success and make new developments in the world economy nowadays.

In view of RCEP’s vast volume and relatively low threshold compared with the free trade area, there is much room for tariff reduction in the agreements reached among countries. At present, since bilateral trade agreements dominate RCEP, there is still a certain gap between RCEP and the Free Trade Area of North America which operates under unified rules and close cooperation. May I ask the Government if it has assessed the positive and negative impacts of this regional cooperation of 15 sovereign states on the international trade of Hong Kong as a free port?


I thank the Member for the supplementary question. First of all, as I have mentioned in the main reply, we would very much like to seek Hong Kong’s accession to RCEP as its first new member economy. Just now the Member mentioned that bilateral trade agreements dominate RCEP, or many bilateral trade agreements are integrated into RCEP. But as a matter of fact, member states or member economies participating in a multilateral trade agreement should reach a consensus and agree on the way forward on particular issues and terms before proceeding to discussions. In the meantime, Hong Kong has not joined RCEP yet, but I can take our previous negotiations with ASEAN as an example. Instead of having discussions with various member economies one by one, we reached a consensus in ASEAN and determined the issues to be discussed before proceeding to discussion with all member states.

So, in this connection, if someone asks what bargaining chips or edges does Hong Kong have, we can look at the fact that apart from FTAs under negotiation, Hong Kong has signed a number of FTAs previously, and conducted a lot of objective assessments on different aspects, such as business environment, financial edges or competitiveness, and I am not going to list them out here one by one. I believe each FTA to be signed will cover such areas as trading of commodities, trade in services, IPPAs and technical cooperation, and Hong Kong can provide a very large platform for businessmen and service providers on these fronts. We can continue to use them as bargaining chips in the negotiations on FTAs.



Q6 Assisting the tourism industry in tapping business opportunities

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):

President, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development pointed out in his main reply that in the 2019-2020 Budget, an additional funding of $326 million was allocated to HKTB to strengthen the promotion of Hong Kong, but due to the authorities’ decision to cancel a number of large-scale events, the expenditure would be reduced by $200 million and the authorities would therefore adjust the projects in order to make effective use of the resources. While this is something commendable, it actually remains uncertain whether this budget amount can be used up.

Considering the forthcoming announcement of the Budget for the next financial year and the ailing tourism industry, I wish to ask the Government whether it will continue to allocate additional resources or even additional funding on top of the existing $326 million, so as to allow HKTB more resources for conducting publicity work next year to salvage Hong Kong’s tourism industry.


I thank Mr CHAN. I agree with Mr CHAN’s view. Certainly, we will continue to make active use of the $200 million funding that remains for more publicity work. Also, in the future, if there is anything that can help with the recovery of the industry, we are more than willing to take it into consideration and allocate funding to the relevant areas.