Hong Kong and New Zealand have signed a closer economic partnership agreement to enhance trade and investment flows between the two places - Hong Kong's first free trade pact with a foreign economy.
The agreement is expected to come into force in the last quarter of 2010, after necessary domestic procedures are completed.
Financial Secretary John Tsang and other guests witnessed Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Rita Lau and Minister of Trade of New Zealand Tim Groser sign the agreement at a ceremony in Hong Kong today.
Under the agreement, liberalisation measures on both trade in goods and services will be introduced. The two sides will also work to strengthening bilateral trade and economic ties by facilitating investment and movement of business people.
New Zealand will phase out over six years its import tariffs on all goods originating from Hong Kong. Upon complete elimination of New Zealand's tariffs, Hong Kong's annual tariff saving is estimated to be about $7 million on the basis of average merchandise trade figures from 2006 to 2008.
Hong Kong service providers and the services they provide will enjoy secured preferential opportunities in the New Zealand market in a variety of sectors.
The agreement encompasses maritime transport services, logistics and related services, audiovisual services and business services, computer and related services, management consulting services, and services incidental to manufacturing.
It also includes the six industries where Hong Kong enjoys clear advantages: education, medical services, testing and certification, environmental industries, innovation and technology, and cultural and creative industries.
Rrestrictions in the form of limitations on foreign capital, number of service providers or operations, value of service transactions, number of persons employed, types of legal entity or joint-venture requirements will be eliminated in a variety of service sectors in the New Zealand market.
Hong Kong service providers and the services they provide in a wide range of sectors will be treated no less favourably than their New Zealand counterparts in similar circumstances. They will also automatically enjoy more liberalisation measures which New Zealand undertakes in its future free trade agreements with other trading partners.
Without compromising legitimate immigration control, business people of the two economies in the categories of business visitors, intra-corporate transferees, and installers or servicers in specified service sectors will be granted temporary entry into Hong Kong and New Zealand under favourable conditions.
To enhance bilateral investment flows, the two sides have agreed to negotiate an Investment Protocol to the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement, with a view to concluding the investment negotiations in two years' time after the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement has entered into force.
The investment negotiations will cover elements that aim to enhance the promotion and protection of investments between the two economies, including non-discrimination, fair and equitable treatment, full protection and security.
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