HK, Europe to start trade talks

AFP | 22 Dec 2009

HK, Europe to start trade talks

HONG KONG — HONG Kong and several European states are set to begin talks aimed at hammering out a free trade pact, the southern Chinese city said on Tuesday.

Hong Kong officials will sit down in early 2010 with their counterparts from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which comprises Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, according to a government statement.

A free-trade agreement ’should provide the Hong Kong business sector with better market opportunities in the EFTA States, bringing multiple benefits to Hong Kong in trade, income and employment,’ the statement said.

It described the four-nation group as an ’important trading partner’ with 15.6 percent annual growth in two-way trade between 2004 and 2008.

The European group was Hong Kong’s 11th largest trading partner last year with HK$72 billion (S$13 billion) worth of goods exchanged, the statement said.

Negotiations will focus on eliminating tariffs for industrial and agricultural goods, improving customs procedures, and scrapping non-tariff trade barriers such as anti-dumping penalties, the statement said.

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source: Straits Times