Agreement will give city defined role
2017-09-18, LUO WEITENG in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is eager to sign a deal with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) by the end of the year to have its role in the Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to improve connectivity along the ancient Silk Road, more clearly defined.

The much-awaited agreement is expected to explain how and where Hong Kong will play its role in the Belt and Road push. This reflects the financial hub’s vision of riding high on the undertakings and goals of the grand plan, Edward Yau Tang-wah, secretary for commerce and economic development, told the Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong on Sept 11. 

The prospective deal is a result of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s weeklong visit to Beijing last month. During the trip, Yau said, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) reached a consensus with the NDRC and the central government’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They have agreed to exchange ideas about Belt and Road issues on a regular basis.

“For players in the trading industry, what makes them reluctant to jump on the Belt and Road bandwagon is the potential investment risk,” said Yau. “Such a risk can be effectively mitigated with closer intergovernmental tie-ups.” 

He said the SAR government plans to utilize its economic and trade offices in the Chinese mainland.

“Information from intergovernmental dialogues would also be delivered in an organized and orderly manner, therefore shoring up investor confidence,” he said.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the SAR government’s trade promotion arm, has introduced 175 Belt and Road projects for local companies and professional institutions getting on board, Yau revealed.

“With a huge ribbon of infrastructure projects set to get off the ground, the Belt and Road Initiative no longer remains conceptual. It has essentially been translated into potentially huge investment opportunities,” he added. “Basically, the unique ‘super-connector role’ of Hong Kong in such a grand plan will be defined by its proximity to the vast mainland market.”

Yau said the Belt and Road drive is not just for large enterprises. “Small and medium-sized enterprises and even micro-enterprises could aim high to play a part. What matters is a well-designed framework to ensure that enterprises of any size can give their expertise full play.”

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