Hong Kong looks to Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern business ties in next chapter of Belt and Road Initiative

Hong Kong will focus on business cooperation with Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern countries under China's Belt and Road Initiative, the head of the local branch of the National Initiative said, amid plans to launch a festival among residents.

Belt and Road Commissioner Nicholas Ho Lig-si, who oversees Hong Kong's role in the national drive, said on Saturday that Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia had offered key areas to explore cooperation this year.

He added that the city's efforts should focus more on securing transitory results through Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative, a China-centric trade network that includes more than 100 countries.

Hong Kong's Belt and Road Commissioner Nicholas Ho (right) said the city plans to launch a festival to implement the plan later this year. Photo: May Say

„This year, we are preparing to go to ASEAN and the Middle East and explore the Central Asian region as well,” he said in a radio show.

„Some of our visits will be official representatives of various government departments to attract companies and investment, and we will conduct some business work with professional services, young groups and start-ups.”

The Hong Kong government earlier this year announced plans to launch commercial missions targeting five Belt and Road countries.

Organize visits to the Greater Bay Area for Hong Kong-based companies from Belt and Road countries, promoting the city as a service hub for entry into China's mainstream market.

Ho said that the countries mentioned on Saturday have expressed particular interest in the city's green development in terms of finance, professional service, certification, technology and start-ups.

„For example, Thailand and the Middle East need to promote their economic restructuring and their leaders have announced their carbon neutrality goals with a green vision,” he said.

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„So, the first thing they did when they came to Hong Kong was to tell us that they wanted to look for some economic partners on the green side.”

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The Commissioner said that the city will also pursue more opportunities in Central Asia and North Africa in the next few years.

The government earlier said it aims to set up two advisory offices in Turkey and Egypt.

Ho said he also plans to hold the first „Belt and Road Festival” during this year's annual summit, which includes the World Trade Initiative.

“During the summit, we want to hold some activities related to culture, sports, tourism and cuisine. [of the belt and road countries],” he said.

„We hope that some Belt and Road related activities will be organized in various districts of Hong Kong to bring this initiative and residents closer together and make people feel involved.”

Officials will work with various cultural and sports organizations to launch the festival, he said.

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