Cabinet approves Hong Kong office

Cabinet approves Hong Kong office

The cabinet yesterday approved a draft bill to protect and offer privileges to the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Thailand to improve economic ties and link the country to China's new overseas investment strategy.

Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to the PM's Office Minister, said the draft bill also covers an exemption of value-added tax (VAT) and personal income tax waivers to officials who work for the new office.

He said the draft bill is expected to be passed by the National Legislative Assembly this November, with the HKETO opening early next year.

The cabinet approved in principle on Nov 7, 2017, establishing HKETO and requested the Foreign Ministry protect and offer privileges to their officials.

Mr Nathporn said HKETO should help to increase trade between Thailand and Hong Kong, allowing Thailand to use Hong Kong as a link to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, which is the Chinese government's scheme to connect nine cities in the coastal province of Guangdong -- Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing -- with Hong Kong and Macau to establish a new business hub.

Hong Kong can use Thailand as a gateway to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the move will strengthen a trade link and facilitate investment by serving as a gateway to both country's regions.

He said HKETO is expected to open early next year when Carrie Lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, is scheduled to visit Thailand.

Mr Somkid said Thailand and Hong Kong also plan to jointly develop Cyber Port Thailand in the Eastern Economic Corridor to cover fintech, venture capital and startups, which is also scheduled to begin operations early next year.

In a separate development, the cabinet approved a draft bill on digital government that will require all state agencies to offer data and services digitally.

In the first five years, state agencies are estimated to spend 33.4 billion baht on transforming their data and services into digital format.

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