Hong Kong and Australia have signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and an Investment Agreement, which expands the scope of trade in goods, services, investment, intellectual property, government procurement, competition and other related areas.
The agreements will provide Hong Kong traders and investors with more favourable access to the Australian market (and vice versa), and will create more business opportunities between the two regions.
Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, said that the new agreement outstrips the commitments made with the World Trade Organisation.
“Hong Kong and Australia, both staunch advocates of free trade, have sealed two high quality deals.
“The commitments we made to each other far exceed our World Trade Organisation commitments, thereby enabling our goods, services and investments to enter each other's market under more preferential terms.
“Against the prevailing uncertainties in the global economic environment, the two bilateral agreements, in providing high transparency and predictability for trade and investment, give a big boost of confidence to our rules-based trading system.
“On trade in services, the quality negotiated outcome generally represents Hong Kong's and Australia's best deal with our respective FTA partners.
“In some 140 services sectors that Australia has made specific commitment under the FTA, Hong Kong service providers are able to enjoy market access and treatment no less favourable than Australia's local service providers under like circumstances.
“In this FTA with Hong Kong, Australia has also committed to liberalising full range of its arbitration, conciliation and mediation services and certain rail transport services, which Australia has never offered to its other FTA partners, except New Zealand.
“Immediately upon the entry into force of the FTA, Hong Kong-originating goods can enter Australia totally tariff-free and via simplified procedures. This tariff treatment is among the best offers Australia has extended to its FTA partners,” he said.
(L to R): The Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macau of Australia, Ms Michaela Browning; Mr Yau; the chief negotiator of the FTA and Investment Agreement negotiations of Australia, Ms Elizabeth Ward; the Australian Minster for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Mr Simon Birmingham; and, the Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Sydney, Mr Raymond Fan.
Australian goods entering Hong Kong will also be free of any customs duties once the agreement comes into effect.
Australia was Hong Kong's seventh largest trading partner in 2017, with the total trade between the two sides equalling over $7 billion Australian dollars, while in 2018, Australia was Hong Kong's 20th largest merchandise partner, with the total trade equalling over $9 billion.
The trade agreement was signed in Sydney on 26 March by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham and The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau.
Once Australia and Hong Kong have completed internal procedures, the agreement will come into effect.
To read the agreement, click here.