Hong Kong and Australia could soon reach first free trade deal

By Wedaeli Chibelushi

On Tuesday, Hong Kong began talks with Australia for the first ever free trade agreement between the two sides. Hong Kong's current trade relationship with Australia is governed by a World Trade Organisation deal.

Australian Minister for Trade Steven Ciobo met with Greg So Kam-leung - Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development when launching trade talks and the China Club.

Major demands soon became apparent. Australia wants Hong Kong to guarantee that it will maintain its current zero tariff treatment for Australian goods. On the other hand, Hong Kong wants Australia to reduce its 2.5 percent average import fee and enable better access to Australia for the city’s service industries.

So said he hopes an agreement can be concluded this year. He also “declared his interest”, stating that his daughter is in Australia and he has three grandchildren in the country.

As quoted in South China Morning Post, Professor Richard Petty, Chairman of the Australia Chamber of Commerce said: “Hong Kong’s economy is 93 percent services so we see enormous opportunity for Australian service providers who are actively engaged in banking, tourism, and retailing and other areas to benefit from this initiative.”

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