ASEAN tour a huge success

July 28, 2023

Chief Executive John Lee said today his visit to three countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had brought achievements in five areas, including building friendship with the leaders of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.


At a media session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this afternoon, Mr Lee said the first area of achievement was that he had built friendship and communication with the leaders of the three countries, while also establishing communication with the Secretary-General of ASEAN.


He said: “I attach great importance to Hong Kong’s relationship with ASEAN member states and that is one of the key purposes of our visit this week. I am very pleased and satisfied that the leaders of the three countries that we have visited, all attach similar importance to our visit and we have started a very good dialogue and built up our friendship.”


Mr Lee said the second area of achievement was represented by the 33 memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and agreements signed with different organisations in the three countries over the past week.


The number of MOUs and agreements signed was higher than on similar trips in the past and covered areas such as trade and commerce, investment and finance, as well innovation and technology, logistics, academic research and cultural exchange. Mr Lee said that the agreements signified that the importance accorded to Hong Kong in the three countries far exceeded expectations.


A third achievement, he noted, was that Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia had reaffirmed their support to Hong Kong's accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).


“With the support of the 10 member countries of ASEAN for Hong Kong to get into the RCEP as a member, we feel, of course, very happy and grateful for their support,” he said.


The Chief Executive added: “We do think that Hong Kong can contribute to the overall value creation of the region once we have become a member because Hong Kong is a free economy (and) we have a lot of strengths and professional services that we can offer to regional co-operation.”


The fourth achievement hailed by Mr Lee was that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and the Government of Singapore have agreed to reconvene a civil service exchange programme that was suspended due to the pandemic.


Finally, he said the Government of Malaysia’s extension of visa-free entry to the country for Hong Kong SAR passport holders from one month to 90 days, was a fifth achievement.


The Chief Executive and the Hong Kong SAR delegation he is leading continued their ASEAN visit in Malaysia today.


After having breakfast at a local hawker centre this morning, Mr Lee and the delegation visited a major Malaysian conglomerate, Berjaya Corporation Berhad, to better understand its diverse operations, including the development of its retail business in Hong Kong. Mr Lee encouraged the corporation to use Hong Kong to tap into the Greater Bay Area market.


At noon, Mr Lee attended a business lunch jointly organised by the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.


Addressing attendees, Mr Lee said Hong Kong is bestowed with unique advantages under “one country, two systems”, meaning it enjoys both strong support from the motherland and close connections with other parts of the world. He added that he looked forward to more enterprises in Malaysia and the ASEAN region coming to Hong Kong to explore business opportunities.


Enterprises and institutions from Hong Kong and Malaysia signed 11 MOUs and agreements.


Mr Lee then visited another Malaysian conglomerate, Sunway Group, taking a tour of its medical and elderly facilities. He explained the Hong Kong SAR Government's latest policies and measures to attracting talent and enterprises, and encouraged the group to expand its investment and trade in Hong Kong.


Mr Lee and the delegation will return to Hong Kong tomorrow.

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