No.10  October, 2019  
Bilateral relations
  Australia – Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement
The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) of the Australian Parliament released on 9 October its report on Australia’s proposed free trade agreements with Hong Kong and Indonesia, recommending ratification of both treaties. The report noted that the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement largely codifies existing trade and market access arrangements, providing certainty into the future. The Committee recognises that the preservation of Hong Kong’s unique status under the Basic Law, under which it enjoys a high measure of autonomy, is in Australia’s national interest, and also views ratification of the agreement as a means of supporting this unique status.

The Australian Government introduced the necessary legislation into the House of Representatives for Australia on 16 October to ratify free trade agreements with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said that “Under our deal with Hong Kong, 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.”

Read the full JSCOT report here and Minister Birmingham’s statement here.
 
     
Bilateral relations
Hong Kong ranked the world’s third easiest place to do business
Hong Kong’s performance in the ease of doing business further improved this year to rank third globally among 190 economies, moving up one place from last year, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Report (Report) released on 24 October. The Report compares the business environment in various economies across 10 indicators. Hong Kong performs well in a number of indicators, including “dealing with construction permits” (ranked first), “paying taxes” (ranked second), “getting electricity” (ranked third) and “starting a business” (ranked fifth). The Hong Kong Government will continue to work closely with the business sector and other stakeholders to reform the existing regulatory regimes, enhance regulatory efficiency and reduce business compliance costs, so as to further improve the business environment in Hong Kong.

Read the full report here.
     
  Hong Kong ranked the world’s third most competitive economy
According to the latest World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report, Hong Kong is the world's third most competitive economy among 141 surveyed, up four places from seventh in 2018. Hong Kong came in first in four areas: macroeconomic stability, health, financial system and product market. Hong Kong placed third in infrastructure and ICT adoption.

Read the full report here.
 
     
  Surge in overseas and Mainland companies and start-ups in Hong Kong
The number of business operations in Hong Kong with parent companies overseas and in Mainland China and the number of start-ups in Hong Kong have been on the rise. According to the 2019 Annual Survey of Companies in Hong Kong with Parent Companies Located Outside Hong Kong, jointly conducted by Invest Hong Kong and the Census and Statistics Department, the number of overseas and Mainland companies in Hong Kong increased by 9.9 per cent from 8,225 in 2017 to 9,040 in 2019. At the same time, Hong Kong's start-up scene has continued to be very vibrant, according to the 2019 Startup Survey conducted by Invest Hong Kong, the number of start-ups in Hong Kong saw even more impressive growth of 42.8 per cent to 3, 184 from 2017.

Read more here.
 
     
  Anti-masked law gazettes
The Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation to ban the use of facial covering in public meetings and processions regulated under the Public Order Ordinance and unlawful and unauthorised assemblies as well as riots was gazetted on 4 October. The regulation commenced on 5 October and is effected as a regulation under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance on public danger grounds. It is a defence for a person charged with an offence of violating the prohibition to establish that he had reasonable excuse for using a facial covering. The Government said that the prohibition is no more than what is necessary and proportionate to protect public order and safety in light of the escalating illegal and violent acts of masked protesters at recent public order events. The Chief Executive of HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, hoped the new legislation could help achieve the objective to stop violence and restore calmness in society as soon as possible.

Read more about the regulation and CE’s remarks at a press conference.
 
     
  Financial Secretary attends APEC Finance Ministers' Meeting in Chile
The Financial Secretary of HKSAR, Mr Paul Chan, attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance Ministers' Meeting (FMM) in Santiago, Chile, on 15 October. He joined various sessions to discuss global economic outlook and sustainable economic development in Asia-Pacific region, and attended the joint press conference after the Meeting. Mr Chan reaffirmed that Hong Kong is firmly committed to free trade and a level playing field. He also mentioned the city's latest development in financial inclusion and fintech, such as the launch of the Faster Payment System which connects banks and stored-value facility (SVF) operators on the same platform and enables the public to transfer funds anytime, anywhere, across different banks or SVFs with funds available almost immediately.

Read more here.
 
     
  Hong Kong expects to commercially launch 5G services in 2020
Speaking at the Symposium on Innovation and Technology on 14 October, the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang, said economies around the world today are all working hard to deploy 5G networks. Hong Kong, which enjoys a very high smartphone penetration rate and robust ICT infrastructure, is no exception. He said Hong Kong expects to commercially launch 5G services in 2020. A range of facilitating measures, such as opening up suitable government premises, are also in place to accommodate the installation of 5G base stations. The Government also supports local innovation and technology research related to 5G. A notable example is the autonomous vehicle trial being carried out by the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute using the 5G mobile technology.

Read more here.
 
     
  Tai Kwun wins award of UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation
Tai Kwun - Centre for Heritage and Arts has won the Award of Excellence of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The Central Police Station Compound revitalisation project is a partnership between the HKSAR Government and the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The project has spanned over 12 years from conception to completion. Through concerted efforts, this much cherished heritage site has been turned into an iconic cultural destination, where heritage, contemporary art and leisure elements are creatively integrated for all to enjoy.

Read more here.
 
     
HKETO events
  HKETO participates in the OzAsia 2019
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Sydney (HKETO), has again participated in one of Australia’s leading international arts festivals, the OzAsia Festival, held in Adelaide, Australia. The HKETO supported the event organiser, the Adelaide Festival Centre, in bringing a giant 40-metre-long Hong Kong Dragon to the Moon Lantern Parade at Adelaide’s Elder Park on 19 October. Through this fabulous illuminated dragon, the HKETO showcased the vibrancy of Hong Kong as an international cultural metropolis grounded in Chinese traditions. Other interesting Hong Kong experiences brought to the festival by the HKETO included a branded Hong Kong Dragon Bar, an interactive photo site featuring the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance, and face-painting activities with Hong Kong characteristics.

Read more here.
 
     
Upcoming events
  Sydney Open 2019 (Australia)
Hong Kong House, home of the HKETO, will be joining Sydney Open 2019 to open for public visit on 3 November. Organised by the Sydney Living Museums, 50 of Sydney’s most important, inspiring and intriguing buildings and spaces will be unlocked during the day. For well over 100 years, Hong Kong House has been a central feature in the cityscape and development of Sydney. Located at the corner of Druitt and York Streets, it is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture and a central feature in the cityscape and development of Sydney. During the day, exhibition panels showing the history of the building and the surrounding areas will be displayed and information about Hong Kong’s latest development will be showcased in the Hong Kong House. You may also wish to try your luck in a lucky dip to win instant prizes of a range of Hong Kong-branded souvenirs!

Find out more about Sydney Open and how to buy a ticket here.
 
     
  Fintech Week 2019 (Hong Kong)
Presented by InvestHK, the Hong Kong Fintech Week 2019 will be held from 4 to 8 November during which Greater Bay Area collaboration will come to the fore with a cross-border Shenzhen day. The main event will spotlight some of the game-changing Fintech developments in Hong Kong during the past 12 months with an eye on what’s in the pipeline ahead. The first two days (4-5 November) will comprise Fintech innovation lab visits and education day events at multiple locations around Hong Kong. The main conference-cum-exhibition will take place on Wednesday and Thursday (6-7 November) at AsiaWorld-Expo, with the final day (8 November) taking place at multiple locations in Shenzhen.

Find out more about the programme and speakers here.
 
     
  International Wine & Spirits Fair 2019 (Hong Kong)
Organised by Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair will be held from 7 to 9 November at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Entering its 12th edition, the Wine & Spirits Fair has become the most important event of its kind in Asia. This year, more than 1,000 exhibitors from over 20 countries and regions will showcase their quality wine and spirits, including a Ukrainian exhibitor making its debut appearance at the fair. Some 60 events will be organised as part of fair. The last day of the event (Saturday, 9 November) will be open to public visitors with tickets, offering an exceptional opportunity for Hong Kong's wine lovers to enrich their knowledge and sample a broad selection of wines from around the world.

Find out more about the event here.
 
     
  Business of Design Week 2019 (Hong Kong)
Since its inception in 2002, Business of Design Week (BODW) has become Asia’s premier annual event on design, innovation and brands. It gathers some of the world’s most outstanding design masters and influential business figures in Hong Kong and provides a valuable platform for business and creative leaders to exchange ideas, network, and explore new business opportunities. Organised by the Hong Kong Design Centre and proudly sponsored by Create Hong Kong, the 2019 edition of BODW will collaborate with partner country – United Kingdom – and will take on the theme ‘Design the Future, Create Tomorrow’. It will investigate how design and design thinking will affect how we live, work, play and learn in the future. The event will be held in Hong Kong from 2 to 7 December at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Find out more about the event here.
 
     
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