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Joint Press Statement
Structured Dialogue meeting between HKSARG and European Union explores ways to deepen relations
The 11th annual Structured Dialogue meeting between the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSARG) and the European Union (EU) took place today (November 16) in Hong Kong. The Structured Dialogue is a high-level event at which the HKSARG and the EU meet to deepen their mutual understanding and ensure coherence in the overall bilateral relationship.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Deputy Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce and Industry) of the HKSARG, Ms Vivian Sum, and the Deputy Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific of the European External Action Service, Ms Paola Pampaloni. The two sides discussed a wide range of subjects and identified areas for further co-operation.
The Head of the HKSARG delegation, Ms Sum, welcomed the EU delegation to Hong Kong. The close trade and investment partnership between Hong Kong and the EU is evident in the high value of trade in goods and services as well as the flow of foreign direct investment between the two sides. The EU is one of the largest trading partners of Hong Kong and was the third largest source of foreign direct investment at the end of 2015. Hong Kong was EU's 14th largest trading partner in goods in 2016 and the EU's second most important direct investor from Asia, after Japan.
Ms Sum stated, “Hong Kong continues to be an ideal gateway for international businesses to tap the vast opportunities in Mainland China and other parts of Asia. Hong Kong prides itself on its business-friendly environment, world class infrastructure, diversified talent pool, as well as the free flow of information, capital, people and goods. The Structured Dialogue is an effective platform to reaffirm the strong ties between Hong Kong and the EU, and our joint commitment to working more closely on various fronts.”
Ms Pampaloni said, “We are working towards consolidating our unique project, placing the EU at the heart of a strong and stable political and economic future in Europe. And Hong Kong is also a part of that future. The EU is committed to bilateral exchanges aimed at facilitating and developing trade and investment flows. To that end, we hope that Hong Kong's freedom, rule of law, transparency and non-discrimination will be maintained in the future.”
At the meeting, both sides provided updates on latest developments, including their respective initiatives on free trade agreements and investment agreements, and exchanged views on the prospect of bilateral negotiations on investment. The EU was also kept abreast of Hong Kong’s latest progress in respect of the operation of the government public works procurement system, the implementation of the Competition Ordinance and the initiatives to support scientific research and innovation. The HKSARG also briefed the EU on its work in taking forward the Belt and Road Initiative and the developments in the financial services sector. In addition, the HKSARG shared with the EU its latest progress in implementing various international tax initiatives, including Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters, countering Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, as well as the upcoming extension of the application of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters to Hong Kong to enable exchange of tax information with all EU Member States and many other jurisdictions on a multilateral basis. Hong Kong raised interest in exploring the mutual use of automated immigration clearance service between Hong Kong and the Member States of the EU to provide greater travel convenience. Hong Kong also suggested exploring ways to support talents from Hong Kong’s creative industries to participate in the EU’s internship placement programmes.
The EU updated the HKSARG on the economic recovery in Europe, where growth has become more balanced with all EU Member States’ economies expanding. The robust economic outlook is expected to continue in the coming quarters driven by strong domestic demand and an accommodative monetary policy. The EU continues to be a very active player in international trade negotiations and an attractive destination for investors and economic operators from around the world, not least from Hong Kong. The EU side underlined that the ‘Investment Plan for Europe’, a flagship initiative of the Juncker Commission, has a unique role to play in boosting investment and growth, and offers opportunities for private sector and third country funds via the European Fund for Strategic Investments. The EU appreciated the regular bilateral exchanges on IPR protection and enforcement over the last two years and would continue to explore further co-operation possibilities with Hong Kong in the IP field. Furthermore, the EU informed about the latest measures against wildlife trafficking in its domestic market and stated its full support to Hong Kong in legislating and implementing its plan to ban ivory trade by 2021.
An expert meeting on financial services between Hong Kong and the EU took place in the margins of the Structured Dialogue on 15 November. Both sides updated each other on the developments in the financial services sector, including the progress of the legislative exercise for the proposed regulatory regime for public interest entity auditors, legislative exercises for enhancing the regulatory regime for combating money laundering and terrorist financing and for strengthening the resilience of Hong Kong’s banking system in accordance with the latest international standards. They also explored possible way forward for reinforcing co-operation in financial regulation.
Both parties recognise the importance of close co-operation and mutual understanding for the benefit of the economies of Hong Kong and the EU. The two sides reviewed the collaborative success in the Hong Kong-EU Action Plan against counterfeiting, and agreed to expedite the conclusion of a Mutual Recognition Arrangement of Authorised Economic Operators. The HKSARG and the EU also exchanged views on technical issues, including current standards and requirements for public light buses operating in Hong Kong.
The HKSARG and the EU conducted exchanges on food safety issues and agreed to sustain co-operation in implementing measures to facilitate the export of meat and meat products from eligible Member States of the EU while ensuring food safety is not compromised.
The parties agreed to strengthen co-operation in the area of waste treatment and recycling, wildlife trafficking, academic exchange and tourism.
Finally, the HKSARG and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining close contact through the established channels, as well as their commitment to free trade, with the common objective of achieving a forward-looking and balanced outcome at the upcoming 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2017.
Ends/ Thursday, November 16, 2017