Hong Kong Forges Closer Ties With ASEAN, John Lee Leads Top Officials to Malaysia

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hong kong forges closer ties with asean, john lee leads top officials to malaysia

Hong Kong CEO John Lee has embarked on a visit to Malaysia, his first visit to the country since taking reins as the fifth chief executive in 2022, to strengthen ties between the two states. He will call on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and discuss bilateral cooperation with top officials. 

The Malaysian Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra) confirmed that Lee will also attend a Malaysia-Hong Kong business forum. There would be signing of MoUs between business entities of the two states. Moreover, extended stay for Hong Kong passport holders is on the cards. Sources say the Hong Kong government has lodged a request for the same with the Malaysian government. Lee will visit businesses and establish greater collaboration in fields of innovation and technology (I&T)  

They highlighted that forging closer and meaningful ties with countries in the ASEAN bloc is very important in Hong Kong’s post-pandemic economy. Malaysia is Hong Kong’s seventh largest trading partner in the world, and the second largest in ASEAN. Lee believes ASEAN and the wider region would emerge as the biggest economic engine globally. 

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“The reason for choosing ASEAN is because it enjoys a great development potential. With the shifts in economic power from the West to the East, ASEAN and the whole of Asia will become the world’s largest economic engine. We have signed a free-trade agreement with ASEAN, so we already have very good foundations.” 

Lee also highlighted Hong Kong’s keenness to join the world’s largest free-trade deal “the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership” (RCEP), made up of 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including 10 from ASEAN. 

However, a senior economist at Natixis Corporate and Investment Bank, Gary Ng Cheuk-yan believes the trip will not yield concrete results for Hong Kong. He said it only highlights that Hong Kong wants to diversify and build a close relationship with ASEAN because it has a higher potential growth than mainland China

But the expert described the trip as symbolic.

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