The cooperation between Hong Kong and the EU is substantial and continues to grow, in part because Hong Kong provides a key channel to mainland China.
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Relations between Hong Kong and the European Union (EU) are based on a high-level annual meeting called the Structured Dialogue between the EU and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSARG). It was started in 2005 to ensure that they would maintain close contacts and develop positive relations.
The tenth Structured Dialogue took place in November 2016 in Brussels. The two sides discussed a wide range of subjects to deepen mutual understanding, and identified areas of further cooperation. They released a joint press statement.
The European Commission also produces annual reports on developments in Hong Kong, the most recent of which was in 2016.
Hong Kong is a major trading partner with the EU. The importance of Hong Kong to the EU as a trading partner is not only down to the volume of trade between the two, but also because Hong Kong acts as an entry point into China.
The EU is Hong Kong’s second largest trading partner after China, for both imports and exports, while Hong Kong was the EU's 14th largest trading partner for trade in goods and a key partner for trade in services. Bilateral trade in goods between the EU and Hong Kong rose significantly by 7.3% in 2016 and amounted to EUR 53.2 billion, with the EU enjoying a trade surplus of EUR 16.8 billion, its fifth highest external trade surplus.
The EU was the third largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Hong Kong in 2015 after the British Virgin Islands and mainland China. Hong Kong is one of the top 10 investors in the EU. In 2015, the stock of EU direct investment to Hong Kong amounted to EUR 119.4 billion; the stock of direct investment from Hong Kong to the EU reached EUR 80.4 billion. EU companies numbered 2 107, thus remaining the largest group of foreign companies established in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is an important channel for trade and investment between the EU and China, the world's largest exporter.
Hong Kong's role as a channel to China means it offers high-value opportunities for EU companies. In fact, the EU is the leading source of foreign companies using the Hong Kong-Mainland China Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). Because of the high potential of CEPA, the EU and Hong Kong regularly communicate on CEPA developments and explore ways to maximise the opportunities for EU companies and investors.
EU diplomatic missions and cultural institutes work closely together with local partners on many people-to-people activities, including the annual EU Film Festival, organising a European Union Pavilion at the Hong Kong Book Fair, the EU Day of Languages. In 2016, the EU Office organised a school calendar competition, and several events focusing on human rights, including a two-day workshop on trafficking in human beings and a conference on LGBTI rights and freedom of religion.
The EU Academic Programme Hong Kong (EUAP), a consortium comprising the Hong Kong Baptist University, the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University, continued to strengthen EU-Hong Kong relations through academic work and network-building with local, regional and European partners. The EUAP held a series of events on European ‘smart city’ case studies and organised conferences and seminars. It also hosted the Model European Union, a unique simulation of EU decision-making and politics in which students played the roles of heads of state or government of Member State in the European Council.