Somkid upbeat on HK's future
Hong Kong: Despite ongoing protests in Hong Kong, Thailand remains confident about the potential of Hong Kong as a gateway for Thailand and Asean to the Greater Bay Area (GBA), says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.
In his keynote speech at a forum titled "Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay: New Horizon for China's Reform and Opening Up of One Country, Two Systems", Mr Somkid said on Thursday although Hong Kong is dealing with social conflict, as happened in Thailand, he and Thailand are still upbeat about the potential of Hong Kong. He believes the territory will recover soon.
"Thailand will always be a true friend and support Hong Kong, and I am confident the cooperation will benefit Asia," said Mr Somkid.
He expects the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to be concluded soon while China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will help enhance fair and inclusive trade.
The BRI has signed pacts with 122 countries to participate in expansion to all regions of the world, especially Asean, not only a large market and supply chain for China, but also the potential centre of the RCEP.
Mr Somkid said the BRI represents a key step in becoming a technology and innovation global leader, which may end up incubating unicorns and creating a hub for finance and logistics.
He said China and Thailand have the same aim: building the BRI, as required by President Xi Jinping.
Thailand has a commitment to make Asean an outstanding region and reduce income disparity, said Mr Somkid.
"In the past 4-5 years, Thailand has not only laid the foundation but also strengthened economic growth, to reduce income disparity, to strengthen competitiveness ranging from infrastructure development, improving ease of doing business, and establishing the Eastern Economic Corridor [EEC], and upgrading the quality of life," he said.
"The EEC will become a production base and logistics hub in the sub-region, which is already connected to the GBA, which is part of the BRI."
Mr Somkid expects by 2020, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand will become a single economy, which can integrate the sub-region into the world supply chain.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said although the protests have affected Hong Kong's economy, the special administrative region is confident it can turn the crisis into opportunity through cooperation.
She wants to maintain and strengthen Hong Kong as a centre in four areas: finance; aviation; professional services; and resources, development and innovation.