26 Mar 2019
Hong Kong and Australia have signed a new free-trade deal, joining the Indonesian and Peru agreements waiting to be signed after the May federal election. – 9Finance reports.
"Under this agreement zero tariffs will be locked-in on goods, market access will be guaranteed for services suppliers, and conditions for two-way investment will be significantly improved," said Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, who signed the deal with Hong Kong in Sydney.
"We also agreed to a series of cutting-edge rules - particularly on data flows and data storage - to facilitate trade and investment and provide certainty and confidence to Australian investors."
The largest concentration of Australian businesses operating overseas are situated in Hong Kong, with the two economies boasting $US18.8 billion worth of trade in 2017/18. Hong Kong was also Australia’s fifth largest source of foreign investment at the end of 2017, with $116.6 billion invested.
This agreement will especially pave the way for better market access for service companies.
HSBC Australia chief executive Martin Tricaud said: "The agreement will create opportunities for Australian business that extend beyond Hong Kong to the Greater Bay Area, which also includes nine mainland (China) cities and Macau.
"China's new plans for the economic integration of this region mean its consumer market may double to nearly $US900 billion by 2025."
Senator Birmingham said hundreds of Australian firms competing across sectors such as finance, construction, communications, hospitality, education, retail, logistics and professional services would acquire advanced access to Hong Kong.
"Australia now regularly records trade surpluses thanks in part to the trade deals we've done with our major partners," he said.
"In fact, last calendar year was the first time in 46 years that every single month was a trade surplus."
Parliament will have to confirm the deal, although Labor supporting it is still an uncertainty.