The federal government revealed it is taking the first steps toward a free trade agreement (FTA) with Hong Kong.
In a statement the Minister for Trade Steven Ciobo said an FTA with Hong Kong would “strengthen our relationship with one of our most significant trading partners.”
“An FTA with Hong Kong would complement our FTA with China and further integrate the Australian economy with Asia,” Mr Ciobo said.
Hong Kong is Australia’s leading business base in East Asia. More than 600 Australian businesses have a major presence there.
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.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) statistics show Hong Kong ranked 6th in merchandise exports over 2015-16, totalling $8.8 billion in exports. The most exported goods are gold, followed by edible products and telecom equipment.
The most commonly exported service over 2015-16 was transport services, totalling $602 million. The total value of services exported to Hong Kong during that time was $2.3 billion.
Focus on services
Mr Ciobo told The Australian the government would push to maintain a zero tariff for services and goods exported, and the FTA would be “very modern”, with a focus on services.
“A strong relationship with Hong Kong is in Australia’s long-term strategic interests and concluding an FTA would strengthen our relationship with one of our most significant trading partners,” he said.
“We’re already seeing signs that services exports will be a key driver in Australia’s economy, helping ensure our record-breaking 26 years of growth continues.’’
Mr Ciobo has called for public submissions to the prospective FTA.
“I invite stakeholders to provide their views on the potential opportunities and impacts of an FTA with Hong Kong,” he said.
Stakeholders are encouraged to provide written submissions, particularly focusing on specific impediments to trade and investment that an Australia-Hong Kong FTA could address.
Further information on how to make a submission is available at: www.dfat.gov.au/a-hkfta