ASEAN trade ministers, including Singapore's Trade and Industry (Trade) Minister Lim Hng Kiang at the signing of trade and investment pacts with Hong Kong. -MTI
ASEAN ministers inked free trade and investment pacts with Hong Kong on Sunday on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN summit. The trade agreement - a much-anticipated culmination of nearly three years' worth of negotiations - is aimed at eliminating or reducing tariffs, liberalising trade and services, and establishing rules to promote confidence in trade.
The investment agreement will cover the protection, promotion and facilitation of investment, reports channel newsasia.The agreements are expected to come into effect by January 2019 and "strengthen economic relations between ASEAN as an integrated market and Hong Kong as one of the world's leading trade and investment powerhouses", and stimulate economic development in the region, ASEAN ministers said in a joint statement.
The deals are expected to benefit Hong Kong - a separate jurisdiction from China - after the city was not included in a free trade agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and China in 2010.Hong Kong's commerce and development secretary Edward Yau said on Sunday at the signing ceremony: "In the face of protectionist sentiments in other parts of the world, these two agreements are in fact a loud and clear vote from all of us here for freer and more open trade."
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