Hong Kong and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations yesterday signed a free trade agreement and a related investment agreement in Manila, providing for the removal or progressive reduction of customs duties on goods from the SAR that will enter ASEAN member countries.
The agreements, which are expected to come into force on January 1, 2019, will provide Hong Kong goods and services better access to the Southeast Asian market. The deals will also protect Hong Kong investments.
Under the agreements, Singapore has committed zero customs duties on goods originating from Hong Kong.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have also agreed to eliminate within 10 years customs duties on about 85 per cent of their tariff duties on goods from Hong Kong. Within 14 years, another 10 per cent of their tariff duties will also be abolished.
On trade in services, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam will allow Hong Kong firms to take 50 percent or even full ownership of companies in different industry sectors in ASEAN member countries.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang- wah said Hong Kong export trading firms can benefit from the progressive reduction of duties in terms of lower operational costs and improved market competitiveness.