Today I announce the launch of the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (A-HKFTA) negotiations with my counterpart, Mr Gregory So Kam-leung, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development.
An FTA with Hong Kong will help Australian exporters take advantage of the opportunities in this dynamic market, helping create more Australian jobs, particularly for Australian service providers. This FTA will help support Australia’s continuing transition to a broader-based economy.
As a separate customs entity, Hong Kong is in an unparalleled position to act as gateway to China and the rest of the world. Hong Kong is the major regional financial centre and a global hub for financial capital. That is why Hong Kong is Australia’s leading business base in East Asia with more than 600 Australian companies.
Hong Kong is a trendsetter in the region, demanding high quality products for its sophisticated and wealthy market. For Australian food, beverages and fashion exporters, Hong Kong has long been a showcase market not only to engage domestic consumers but buyers from the Chinese mainland and across the region.
Australia is seeking a modern FTA with Hong Kong, focused on securing significant access for our services, which continue to be a key driver of the Australian economy. As our seventh largest services market, worth $2.4 billion in 2015-16, Australia’s services export industries, including legal and financial services, as well as education and transport services, will benefit from the openness for services we expect an FTA to bring.
Hong Kong was Australia's eighth largest export market, worth $11 billion last financial year. Overall Hong Kong was Australia’s 12th largest trading partner, with total two-way trade in goods and services worth $15.3 billion. Concluding a high quality, comprehensive FTA will grow this important trade and investment relationship and complement our North Asian FTAs.
During negotiations, I continue to invite stakeholders to provide their views on the specific impediments to trade and investment that the A-HKFTA could address. Further information on how to make a submission is available at www.dfat.gov.au/a-hkfta.
The Turnbull Government is pursuing an ambitious trade agenda to drive economic growth and create more and better paying Australian jobs.