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Trade ties with Hong Kong up with air connectivity
Published on: Wednesday, January 24, 2024
By: David Thien
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Trade ties with Hong Kong up with air connectivity
From left to right: Chiam (PUMM), Lee (MICCI), Foo (SME), Hoh (HKTDC), Dr Huang, Masidi, Cheng (HKETO), Chew (HKMBA) and Chin (MCCC).
Kota Kinabalu: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Hajiji bin Noor’s visit in Nov, 2023 to Hong Kong and his meeting with Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee and other business leaders has boosted economic and people-to-people ties.

The high-level visit by John to Malaysia last July to meet Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim has also led to the Malaysian Government announcing an extension of the visa-free stay period for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Passport holders in Malaysia from a month to 90 days.

A total of 11 MOUs with Malaysian companies, covering areas such as trade, finance, railway and property development, digital transformation and financial technology were signed.

“These have brought our relations to new heights. I thank the Malaysian Government and our counterparts for their unwavering support. It was a critical step towards stronger trade, investment and people-to-people ties between our two regions.”

This was recalled in appreciation by the Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, Libera Cheng, at the Chinese New Year of the “Loong” (Dragon) Dinner organised by the Hong Kong-Malaysia Business Association, Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Invest HK here at the Marriott Hotel on Jan 22 this year.

“This has certainly provided greater travel convenience and strengthened our tourism, cultural and economic ties with Sabah, as well as Malaysia as an important Belt and Road country,” she said in her speech at the function attended by Sabah business leaders and trade association members.

“In 2022, we were the 9th largest trading partner of Malaysia,” Libera Cheng said in thanking the guests on the occasion to kick-start this auspicious New Year of the “Loong” as the Chinese New Year is an all-important festival for the global Chinese community, including the people of Hong Kong in celebrating with family and friends.

The guest-of-honour State Finance Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi bin Manjun led the toasting ceremony accompanied by the People’s Republic of China Consul-General in Kota Kinabalu Dr Huang Shifang, Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office Libera Cheng, Hong Kong Trade Development Council Malaysia Director Hoh Jee-eng, Hong Kong-Malaysia Business Association President Dixon Chew, Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce Sabah Branch President Michael Chin, Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce & Industry Sabah Branch Chairman Datuk Lee Swi Heng, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Sabah Chairman James Ha, SME Association of Sabah President Datuk Foo Ngee Kee and Persatuan Usahawan Maju Malaysia Sabah Chairman Patrick Chiam.

Cheng said: “Hong Kong and Malaysia share longstanding ties in trade and business.

In 2022, our bilateral trade in goods grew by 7 per cent year-on-year to reach US$28.1 billion, making Malaysia our 9th largest trading partner and the 3rd largest among Asean member states.

About nine per cent of trade between Malaysia and Mainland China was routed through Hong Kong.”

“Indeed, Hong Kong is just 2.5 hours away from Sabah by flight, within easy reach by Sabahans for business and leisure purposes as well as transit to other destinations.

“Direct flights between Kota Kinabalu and Hong Kong resumed in Jan 2023, and we have already seen substantial increases in frequency over the previous months, representing a vote of confidence in our status as an international aviation and logistics hub.

“Hong Kong is indeed an ideal connector between Sabah and the rest of the world. Just in the first half of 2024, we will be hosting as many as 80 mega events, covering literally all sectors you could name.

“At the Asian Financial Forum last month, we welcomed over 3 600 policymakers and business leaders from more than 50 countries and regions.

“I very much encourage and welcome Sabah businesses to make use of the Hong Kong platform, including the many trade fairs and expos that we host throughout the year, to expand into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Mainland China market and other parts of the world.

“On the people-to-people front, the Chief Executive announced in his latest Policy Address the vision of developing Hong Kong into an international hub for post-secondary education.

“We are increasing the admission quota for non-local students and adding more hostel places, alongside an expansion of the Belt and Road Scholarship for Malaysian students.

“We will also endeavour to strengthen interactions with Sabah, and Malaysia as a whole, in areas such as culture, sports and legal cooperation.”

Cheng said that the “Loong” represents strength and vitality in Chinese culture and that there is so much to look forward to in the coming year.

“On trade and investment, we have signed the First Protocol to Amend the Asean-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agreement last month to update the Product Specific Rules of Origin to expand their coverage to almost 600 categories of products.

“We will also continue to work closely with the Asean Secretariat and Asean Member States, including Malaysia as the Chair of Asean next year, to strive for early accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) for the shared benefit of the region.

“There are also huge opportunities under the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative, and you are most welcome to leverage our latest business and talent attraction initiatives, including the new Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, to explore Hong Kong’s potential in complementing the many developments in Sabah,” Cheng said.

The dinner function was also supported by the Hong Kong Shipping Registry and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) Malaysia Director Hoh Jee Eng told Sabah business community that her office in Kuala Lumpur at Suite 27-1, Level 27, Menara Dion, 27 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur is of service to them to connect with potential Hong Kong investors for any suitable projects.

(Tel: 03-2381 1061 / [email protected] / [email protected] / hktdc.com)

A statutory body established in 1966, HKTDC is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and service providers.

With more than 50 global offices, including 13 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and throughout Asia.

Hong Kong-Malaysia Business Association President Dixon Chew asked the local business community to participate in its annual HK Forum in December with an optional side trip to the Greater Bay Area to gain the latest insights and ideas from chats with top business leaders.

(Contact Secretariat Hoh Jee Eng: [email protected]).

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