Countries along China’s “new silk road” will get priority when negotiating bilateral free trade agreements and other accords with Hong Kong, Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-Wah said at the second Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong on Monday.
The event attracted over 3,000 business, investment, and political representatives seeking new partners or clients. The massive Chinese-bankrolled infrastructure and trade project aims to link over 60 countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia through a transcontinental transport network.
Summit participants from Belt and Road countries, including from Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, and Kazakhstan also presented development projects seeking investment or acquisition. The projects ranged from plans for road construction in Djibouti to hydroelectricity power plants in Indonesia. Around one third of the projects presented were luxury real estate or resort development plans in Southeast Asia.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which organised the Summit, is currently offering 170 investment opportunities, Yau said. “During ongoing negotiations of [bilateral trade] agreements, we will first consider Belt and Road countries, and sign these agreements with them.”
Hong Kong is also expected to sign a new Belt and Road agreement with China’s National Development and Reform Commission by the end of this year.
“The agreement would give a very detailed description of areas that Hong Kong is good at, and areas that we believe that Hong Kong can serve the Belt and Road Initiative not just for the country, but also for partners that will be collaborating with the Mainland,” Yau said.
The initiative is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s hallmark economic strategy, though critics are concerned the project is akin to neo-colonialism, and could spread corruption.