China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is expected to sign a free trade agreement ( FTA) with the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN) by 2016, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Sunday.
Speaking on the sidelines of an ASEAN summit, Leung said Hong Kong could play the role of a "good connector" in trade and economic activities between the Chinese mainland and ASEAN members, and some trading was settled via the Hong Kong SAR.
"The Hong Kong-ASEAN FTA negotiation has been going on since last year," Leung said. "We hope to wrap up the negotiations with all ASEAN nations by 2016."
Leung said Hong Kong could act as an important intermediary to facilitate trade and economic activities between ASEAN and the Chinese mainland for mutual benefit.
"Quite a number of Hong Kong companies and manufacturers eye ASEAN countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, so I see the negotiations and the finalisation of the FTA would benefit all countries in ASEAN," he said.
According to Leung, total trade between Malaysia and China, including the Hong Kong SAR, rose 16 percent last year, and 12 percent of the trade, now over 100 billion U.S. dollars, was settled via Hong Kong.
Moving forward, he said cooperation between Malaysia and the Hong Kong SAR could be further strengthened in tourism and logistics industries.
Leung was scheduled to deliver a keynote speech and attend a dinner reception in Kuala Lumpur, while also meet officials from the ASEAN members, Malaysian business leaders, and Hong Kong people in Malaysia.