Election 'no threat to ties with HK'
The strong links between Hong Kong, as a spearhead of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), and Asean chair Thailand will not weaken after the March 24 election and the advent of a new Thai government, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said Thursday.
He cited China's importance in global affairs during his keynote speech at a seminar in Bangkok on the strategic partnership between the kingdom and the Chinese special administrative region.
The seminar coincided with a two-day visit to Thailand by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam that also concluded Thursday.
Ms Lam said Hong Kong would soon open an economic and trade office in Bangkok to promote enhanced trade and collaboration.
Mr Somkid said this would mark the beginning of a new chapter of cooperation between the GBA, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) on trade, investment and other areas.
He said Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced a new economic policy that involves developing the GBA, especially Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, into a special economic zone (SEZ) to serve as a new growth engine for the country.
The GBA has a population of 70 million and a combined GDP of US$1.5 trillion (47 trillion baht). Analysts expect this will galvanise the Chinese economy, which is now slowing after several decades of rampant growth.
"It will become a large economic zone on par with Silicon Valley and Tokyo Bay," Mr Somkid said.
It will give Hong Kong a boost in Asia by leveraging its strengths in manufacturing, financial services and tourism, he said.
"One thing Silicon Valley and Tokyo Bay don't have but the GBA will, is a geographic location close to Asean, which has huge growth potential," Mr Somkid said.
Asean is integral to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) -- a proposed FTA between Asean's 10 members and six Asia-Pacific states -- the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy initiated by Japan.
Ms Lam stressed the need for greater cooperation in the technology industry and through projects like Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and China's Belt and Road Initiative.
"I remain optimistic our collaboration with Asean and Thailand in trade and investment will continue to expand," she said. "My confidence comes from the signing of a free trade agreement and the signing of a related investment agreement between Hong Kong and Asean."
Her visit saw four MoUs signed: Innospace Thailand and Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC); Innospace and Hong Kong Cyberport; Innospace and Ho & Partners Architects Engineers & Development Consultants; and Thailand's BOI and HKTDC.