Hong Kong eyes Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern business ties in next chapter of belt and road plan

Hong Kong will focus on business collaborations with Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern countries under China’s belt and road plan, the head of the national initiative’s local wing has said amid plans to launch a festival championing the scheme among residents.

Commissioner for Belt and Road Nicholas Ho Lik-chi, who oversees Hong Kong’s role in the national drive, on Saturday said Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia offered prime areas for exploring cooperation this year.

He added that the city’s efforts needed to be more concentrated to ensure intermediate results as Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative to create a China-centred trade network covered more than 100 countries.

Hong Kong’s Commissioner for Belt and Road Nicholas Ho (right) says the city plans to launch a festival championing the scheme later this year. Photo: May Tse

“This year, we prepare to go to Asean and Middle East countries, and we will also explore Central Asia regions,” he told a radio programme.

“Some of our visits will be official delegations by different government departments to attract enterprises and investment and we will also hold some business missions with professional services, the young groups and start‑ups.”

The Hong Kong government earlier announced plans to launch business missions targeting five belt and road countries this year.

The missions will organise visits to the Greater Bay Area for Hong Kong-based enterprises from belt and road countries to promote the city as a service hub for entry into the mainland Chinese market.

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Ho said the countries mentioned on Saturday had expressed a particular interest in the city’s green developments in terms of finance, professional service, certification, technology and start-ups.

“For example, Thailand and the Middle East have to promote their economic restructuring and their leaders announced their goals of carbon neutrality with a green vision,” he said.

“Therefore, the first thing they came to Hong Kong was to tell us they wanted to seek some economic partners on the green aspect.”

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The commissioner said the city would also pursue more opportunities in Central Asia and North Africa over the next few years.

The government earlier said it aimed to set up two consultant offices in Turkey and Egypt.

Ho revealed city authorities also planned to hold the first “Belt and Road Festival” during this year’s annual summit covering the global trade initiative.

“During the summit, we would like to hold some activities relating to culture, sports, tourism and cuisine [of the belt and road countries],” he said.

“We hope some activities on belt and road will be organised in various districts in Hong Kong, in a bid to bring the initiative and residents closer and let people feel engaged.”

The authorities would work alongside various cultural and sports organisations to launch the festival, he added.


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