Negotiations on a Hong Kong-Australia free trade agreement (A-HKFTA) were officially launched on May 16th.
Australian trade minister Steven Ciobo said an FTA with Hong Kong would help Australian exporters in the market and also 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,” Mr Ciobo said.
“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.”
Mr Ciobo went on to say Australia was seeking a “modern” FTA with Hong Kong, with a focus on access for Aussie services.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Hong Kong is also an important base for Australian businesses overseas, with more than 600 Aussie businesses in the region, according to Mr Ciobo.
According information provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China was Australia’s 14 largest trading partner for merchandise in the 2015-16 financial year.
By far the largest merchandise export to Hong Kong by value was gold, with $5.6bn worth of the precious metal exported to the region over the past financial year.
Other major Australian exports over the period included edible products and preparations, worth $367m; telecom equipment and parts, worth $328m; and fruit and nuts, worth $198m.
At the top of the list for merchandise imports from Hong Kong was telecom equipment and parts, worth $97m for the period.
Other notable imports included printed matter ($65m), jewellery ($50m) and monitors, projectors and TVs ($50m).
Continuing to glean information from DFAT sources, we find that Hong Kong’s GDP was US$316.1bn in 2016, with a per capita GDP of US$42,963.
Its real GDP growth showed a year-on-year increase of 1.4% in 2016, and a current account balance of 2.8% of its GDP.