The Trade and Industry Department (TID) of the Hong Kong Government announced in June that the free trade agreement (FTA) between Hong Kong and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Nations) has come into force for five ASEAN countries namely Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. For the remaining member states, which are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, the FTA will come into force as soon as the dates are confirmed.
This FTA is a significant development for Hong Kong businesses trading with ASEAN countries. According to the TID, ASEAN was Hong Kong's second largest trading partner in merchandise trade in 2018 and the fourth largest in services trade in 2017. Total merchandise trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN amounted to HK$1,070 billion in 2018 and total services trade between the two sides was HK$127 billion in 2017. With the FTA in force, the government expects that there will be greater legal certainty, better market access and fair and equitable treatment in trade and investment, thereby creating new business opportunities for Hong Kong businesses.