The seventh Belt and Road Summit, jointly organised by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), opened on Thursday (31 August).
As the first major international event following celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR, the summit runs under the theme 'Heralding a New Chapter: Collaborate and Innovate.'
John Lee, HKSAR Chief Executive said in his opening speech: “The global rise of protectionism has reminded us of how important regional co-operation is. Hong Kong is therefore very pleased to see the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, come into force earlier this year.
The landmark agreement underlines the open, inclusive, rules-based trade and investment partnership that RCEP's member states are committed to realising. We believe that regional economic integration is an essential complement to multilateral trade. Hong Kong is seeking early accession to RCEP. It will enable us to deepen the collaboration and connections we enjoy with our close partners.
Han Zheng, a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China said: “Hong Kong is an active participant, contributor and beneficiary of the Belt and Road Initiative. We are pleased to see that since the initiative launched, Hong Kong has actively negotiated and signed cooperation agreements with co-construction countries, developing trade and investment cooperation, service standard connection, international financial cooperation and exchange between people.
“Hong Kong plays an important role in Belt and Road development, as well as expanding its own development space. The Central Authorities will adhere to the principle of 'one country, two systems' in the long run, fully supporting Hong Kong in maintaining its unique status and advantages. Authorities fully support Hong Kong's active participation in and contribution to the Belt and Road development.”
Zhang Xiangchen, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization said: “The COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical tensions, climate change and anti-globalisation sentiment are the four major factors that I believe could affect the reshaping of the landscape of global trade policies. It is very challenging but can still be managed well if the whole world works together. To address these challenges, I strongly encourage enhanced dialogue and cooperation between all governments to find collective solutions because none of these challenges can be addressed by one government alone. Global challenges require global solutions.”
Peter K N Lam, HKTDC Chairman said: “The HKTDC is honoured to have Vice Premier Han Zheng deliver an important keynote speech at today's summit, giving a more specific illustration of Hong Kong's role as an active participant, contributor and beneficiary of the Belt and Road Initiative. Following President Xi Jinping's important speech on 1 July, the Vice Premier’s 'Four Hopes' for Hong Kong's participation in the construction of the Belt and Road further highlighted the direction of the city’s development.
Other keynote speakers included Wang Wentao, Minister, Ministry of Commerce, the People's Republic of China; Hao Peng, Chairman, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), the People's Republic of China and Lin Nianxiu, Vice Chairman, National Development and Reform Commission, the People’s Republic of China.
Multipartite cooperation to promote economic growth
The Policy Dialogue Session, chaired by HKSAR Deputy Finance Secretary Michael Wong, analysed how economies under the Belt and Road Initiative can strengthen cooperation and boost economic growth through infrastructure development and trade under the theme ‘Driving Growth through Partnership and Collaboration. The pane included Lim Sidenine, Secretary of State of Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Kingdom of Cambodia; Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment, Indonesia; Lim Ban Hong, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia; Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Singapore; and Chayotid Kridakon, Thai Trade Representative and Advisor to the Prime Minister.
Growing relationship between Belt and Road, RCEP and GBA
The RCEP, which came into effect this year, is the largest free trade agreement in history, accounting for 30 percent of the world's population and GDP. With the joint effort of more than 100 countries connected with the Belt and Road Initiative, global regional economic integration will be become more established.
The Business Plenary titled ‘Collaborate for a Bright New Era’ saw Paul Chan, Financial Secretary of the HKSAR, delivering the welcoming remarks. Hosted by Ronnie Chan, Chairman of Hang Lung Properties, the session examined how economic growth can be achieved through multipartite cooperation.
Other guest speakers included the Chairman of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, JP Morgan’s Asia Pacific Advisory Council and Non-Executive Chairman of Lion Rod Eddington; the 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key; President of the Bank of China Liu Liange; Deputy Managing Director & Chairman for Hong Kong of Jardine Matheson Holdings YK Pang; and CEO and President of Berli Jucker Public Company Limited Aswin Techajareonvikul.
In his welcome remarks, Chan said: “We are capitalising on our strong collaboration with Shenzhen, developing Hong Kong into an international innovation and technology hub, focusing development on life and health sciences, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence and data industry, etc.
We are also pressing ahead with more local infrastructure projects, including the Northern Metropolis and the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, as well as many other road, railway and land development projects. Talents, capital and entrepreneurs are all essential to achieving our goals. We warmly welcome businesses and talents from all over the world, Belt and Road countries included of course, to come to Hong Kong to collaborate with us and grasp the enormous opportunities together. To this end, we will have new policies and support measures to facilitate the coming of talents and enterprises.”
The Business Plenary on ‘Capturing Synergies between Belt and Road and Greater Bay Area,’ was hosted by David YK Wong, Permanent Honorary President of The Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong. The panellists included Chairman of the Power Construction Corporation of China’s Ding Yanzhang; Huang Zhaohui, CEO, Chairman of the Management Committee, Executive Director of the Board of China International Capital Corporation; Rex Auyeung, Chairman of MTR Corporation; KC Chan, Chairman of WeLab Bank; and Michael Kwok, Chairman of East Asia Region of Arup Group.
The speakers shared ideas on the potential opportunities the GBA brings as an important Belt and Road hub, and also discussed how Hong Kong can further leverage the advantages of the GBA to enhance its position and promote the development of the city’s industries.
Five breakout sessions
On the Day 1, the summit, in conjunction with a number of organisations including the Department of Justice of the HKSAR Government, the Insurance Regulatory Authority, China Foreign Contractors Association and Dun & Bradstreet, held five breakout sessions to examine a range of topics such as international dispute resolution, insurance services, GBA infrastructure development, digital technology development and future infrastructure development.
(Writing by SA Kader; Editing by Anoop Menon)