Hong Kong – Speech by SCED at APEC Joint Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade and Ministers Responsible for Women (English only)

Speech by SCED at APEC Joint Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade and Ministers Responsible for Women (English only)

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     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Algernon Yau, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Joint Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade and Ministers Responsible for Women in Arequipa, Peru, today (May 17, Arequipa time):
 
     Thank you, Co-Chairs.
 
     I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to Peru for the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation in this enchanting “White City” of Arequipa. Today’s meeting is particularly special, as we are joined by our fellow Ministers Responsible for Women in this first joint ministerial meeting on women and trade in APEC’s history.
 
     Undoubtedly, trade and women’s economic empowerment are profoundly intertwined. Representing nearly 55 per cent of our population in Hong Kong, China (HKC), women play a crucial role in driving economic growth. While HKC’s trade policy is gender-neutral, we are keenly aware of the possible constraints faced by women in trade, from the dual burdens of job and family commitments to specific challenges they face, which may include lack of mobility, skills, funding and networks.
 
     To enhance women’s participation in trade and capitalise on the rising trends in global trade, we consider it essential to eliminate barriers to trade, such as lowering the cost of doing business or streamlining procedures through the use of technology. In tandem, wider digitalisation of trade can help women, many of whom lead smaller-scale or home-based businesses, to develop and grow their operations. Indeed, building digital skills, encouraging women’s participation in the digital economy and innovation, as well as strengthening the capacity of women-owned and women-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to participate in the global value chain, are all key action areas set out in the La Serena Roadmap for Women and Inclusive Growth endorsed in 2019.
 
     In HKC, we are implementing various measures on this front. For example, we are pushing towards with the final phase of our Trade Single Window, and have put in place the Digital Transformation Support Pilot Programme to assist MSMEs in electronic payment and other digital solution packages. Within APEC, we hope that through collaborative efforts, we could help accelerate this transformation to open up new opportunities for women to participate in trade, including through continued implementation of the APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap.
 
     Support measures for MSMEs can help women reap the benefits of trade. For HKC, we provide extensive support for MSMEs through over 40 funding schemes and support programmes, such as the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme which specifically aims to enhance access to bank financing. HKC also promotes the use of online dispute resolution in APEC to facilitate MSMEs’ uptake of digital technologies to resolve disputes at a lower cost and with ease, thereby enabling their inclusive participation in international trade.
 
     The path to women’s empowerment in trade extends beyond creating equal opportunities; it is about unlocking the vast potential that a diverse economy offers. We hope that APEC member economies can continue our efforts in liberalising and facilitating trade, and building a trade and investment environment that is free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, inclusive and predictable, as our Leaders committed in the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040.
 
     Allow me to pause here and invite my senior official to introduce HKC’s other efforts and policies to facilitate women’s access to the economy.
 
     Thank you.

Hong Kong – Territory-wide flag day today

Territory-wide flag day today

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     Heung Hoi Ching Kok Lin Association has been issued a Public Subscription Permit to hold a territory-wide flag sale from 7am to 12.30pm today (May 18), a spokesman for the Social Welfare Department (SWD) said. 

     Details of the charitable fund-raising activities, including any updated information, covered by the issued Public Subscription Permits have been published on the GovHK website (www.gov.hk/en/theme/fundraising/search). Permits for flag days containing information on contact methods of the flag-selling organisations and the approved flag-selling activities have also been uploaded to the SWD’s website (www.swd.gov.hk/en/ngo/controlofc/flagdays) for reference. For enquiries, please call the SWD’s hotline at 2343 2255, or the designated hotline of the 1823 Call Centre at 3142 2678.

     In the case of suspected fraudulent flag day activities, people should not make any donation and should immediately report the matter to the Police, the spokesman added.

Hong Kong – Hong Kong and Peru substantially conclude free trade agreement negotiations (with photos)

Hong Kong and Peru substantially conclude free trade agreement negotiations (with photos)

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     The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Algernon Yau, today (May 16, Arequipa time) met with the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru, Ms Elizabeth Galdo Marín, and jointly announced the substantial conclusion of negotiations of the free trade agreement (FTA) between Hong Kong and Peru on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Arequipa, Peru.

     “The negotiations, which began in 2023, cover trade in goods, trade in services (including e-commerce), investment and other related areas. I am pleased to note that our shared objectives in achieving a high-quality and comprehensive bilateral FTA are met,” Mr Yau said.

     “Peru is Hong Kong’s important trading partner in Latin America. The FTA will enhance the trade and investment ties between the two sides, provide Hong Kong products, enterprises and investors with legal certainty and better access to the Peruvian market, and bring mutual benefits to our two economies,” he added.

     The two sides aim to finish the few remaining issues and the respective internal procedures with a view to signing the FTA within this year. Details of the agreement will then be announced.

     In 2023, Peru ranked fifth among Hong Kong’s merchandise trading partners in Latin America. The total merchandise trade between Hong Kong and Peru amounted to HK$5,231 million in 2023 and grew at an average annual rate of four per cent from 2019 to 2023.

     Hong Kong has so far signed eight FTAs with 20 economies, including the Mainland of China, New Zealand, the member states of the European Free Trade Association (i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), Chile, Macao, the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (i.e. Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam), Georgia and Australia. All FTAs have entered into force.

     In addition to the FTA with Peru, Hong Kong will continue to actively expand economic and trade network, such as seeking early accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and exploring FTAs or investment agreements with other potential partners in the Middle East and other regions along the Belt and Road.

Hong Kong – Arrangements for travel document services after relocation of Immigration Headquarters

Arrangements for travel document services after relocation of Immigration Headquarters

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     The Immigration Department (ImmD) announced today (May 16) the arrangements for travel document services after the relocation of the Immigration Headquarters on June 11.

     A spokesperson of the ImmD said that the last working day of the Travel Documents and Nationality (Application) (TDNA) Section and the Travel Documents (Issue) (TDI) Section at the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai is June 8. The two sections will be relocated to the Immigration Headquarters in Tseung Kwan O on June 11 to continue to render services for travel document application and collection.

     To provide members of the public with more convenient services, the TDNA Section will, on the same day upon commencement of operations of the new Immigration Headquarters in Tseung Kwan O, extend its services to the handling of applications for the Document of Identity for Visa Purposes and the Re-entry Permit, in addition to the existing service of processing applications for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) passport. For members of the public who need to submit those applications in person at that office, they may book an appointment through the Internet (www.gov.hk/tdbooking) or via a 24-hour hotline (2598 0888) available from May 27.

     As regards the arrangements for collection of travel documents, the spokesperson said that for an applicant whose travel document application has been processed, the ImmD will issue a Notice of Collection to notify the applicant the collection arrangements. Upon relocation of the TDI Section, applicants who have originally opted to collect their new travel documents at the TDI Section at the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai may collect their travel documents according to the details stated in the Notice of Collection. For applicants with a Notice of Collection issued on or before March 10, 2024, they are advised to collect their new travel documents as soon as possible; the uncollected new travel documents will be transferred on June 11 to the TDI Section in Tseung Kwan O (Address: 1st Floor, Administration Tower, Immigration Headquarters, 61 Po Yap Road, Tseung Kwan O, New Territories) for collection thereafter.

     Moreover, for applicants with a Notice of Collection issued on or after March 11, 2024, they may collect their new travel documents at the Wan Chai Collection Office on or before June 8, or at the Hong Kong Island Travel Documents Issuing Office (Address: 2nd Floor, Harbour Building, 38 Pier Road, Central) from June 11 onwards.

     The details of the above collection arrangements are appended in the Annex. If members of the public wish to collect their new travel documents before the relocation of the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai, they should attend that office early for the collection, and no appointment booking is required. For more information about collection of travel documents and office hours, please visit the Immigration webpage (www.immd.gov.hk/eng/faq/hk-travel-doc.html).

     The ImmD takes this opportunity to call on members of the public who are planning for travel to arrange for renewal of their HKSAR passports in advance, and allow sufficient time for the applications for and collection of their new passports. The ImmD also encourages members of the public to submit their HKSAR passport applications online, which is fast and convenient. For enquiries, please call the ImmD hotline on 2824 6111 or contact the ImmD by fax (2877 7711) or email (enquiry@immd.gov.hk).

Hong Kong – Arrangements for Registration of Persons services after relocation of Immigration Headquarters

Arrangements for Registration of Persons services after relocation of Immigration Headquarters

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     The Immigration Department (ImmD) announced today (May 16) the following arrangements for the Registration of Persons (ROP) services after relocation of the Immigration Headquarters on June 11.

     A spokesperson of the ImmD said, ROP – Kwun Tong Office, which is located in Manulife Financial Centre, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, will be relocated to the new Immigration Headquarters in Tseung Kwan O and renamed as ROP – Tseung Kwan O Office on June 11. Upon commencement of operation of the ROP – Tseung Kwan O Office, extension of service hours will also be provided, i.e. operating from 8am to 10pm from Monday to Saturday, and closed on Sunday and public holidays.

     The last working day of ROP – Kwun Tong Office is June 8. Applicants, who have made identity card applications at ROP – Kwun Tong Office, are advised to collect their new identity cards from ROP – Kwun Tong Office on or before June 8. Starting from June 11, applicants who have not yet collected their new smart identity cards are required to collect their identity cards at the adjacent ROP – Kwun Tong (Temporary) Office. ROP – Kwun Tong (Temporary) Office will continue to provide services at the current location. The address of ROP – Kwun Tong (Temporary) Office is Office 1, 2nd Floor, Manulife Financial Centre (for registration service) and Office 1B, 3rd Floor, Manulife Financial Centre, Tower A (for collection service). 

     On the other hand, ROP – Hong Kong Office, which is located on the 8th Floor of the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai, will continue to provide services at the same location. The working hours and scope of services remain unchanged.

     For applicants, who have applied for the Certificates of Registered Particulars or Certificates of Exemption and the location for collection is ROP – Kwun Tong Office, please collect the certificates on or before June 8. Starting from June 11, applicants who have yet to collect the mentioned certificates are required to collect their certificates at the ROP – Tseung Kwan O Office.

     For details of the working hours and scope of services of ROP Offices, please see Annex. For more information about ROP services, please visit the Immigration webpage (www.immd.gov.hk/eng/faq/faq_hkic.html).

     For enquiries, please contact the ImmD by calling our enquiry hotline (2824 6111), by fax (2877 7711) or by email (enquiry@immd.gov.hk).

Hong Kong – Missing man in Yau Ma Tei located

Missing man in Yau Ma Tei located

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    A man who went missing in Yau Ma Tei has been located.

    Hung Chi-shing, aged 55, went missing after he was last seen at an elderly home on Canton Road yesterday morning (May 15). Staff of the caring home made a report to Police today (May 16).

    Police located the man on Hoi Fai Road, Mong Kok this afternoon. No suspicious circumstances were detected.