By Thompson Chau
Naypyitaw, Myanmar, September 14, 2017
HONG Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam will visit Myanmar on September 14-17 in an effort to step up its game in ASEAN and is expected to promote Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Mrs Lam will be speaking at the 14th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention (WCEC) on September 16, which is held by the Yangon-headquartered Myanmar Chinese Chamber of Commerce (MCCC). She will also meet with officials in Nay Pyi Taw and conduct visits to businesses in Yangon.
ASEAN and the city announced the conclusion of negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) recently. The ASEAN-HK FTA is expected to be signed in November this year.
Businesses in Myanmar told The Myanmar Times that they believe the FTA would facilitate inward investments into Myanmar and provide much-needed capital, particularly in infrastructure, manufacturing and property sectors.
In a press release, the Hong Kong government noted that it sees the strengthening of ties with ASEAN as a priority.
The city’s increased interaction with the regional bloc is widely seen by Hong Kong and international investors as a strategy to complement China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The chief executive, since her assumption of office in July, has visited Singapore and Thailand. The Belt and Road Initiative was on the agenda when Mrs Lam met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during her visits. The government, which already has a presence in Singapore, has opened a new trade office in Jakarta earlier this year, and will add another one in Bangkok.
In February, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) led a delegation to Myanmar. The delegation head Peter Wong told The Myanmar Times in an exclusive interview that the BRI would spark the interest of investors worldwide to come to the country.
More recently, Mrs Lam said during HKTDC’s Belt and Road Summit on Monday that ASEAN economies and geography make the regional bloc a key part of Beijing’s grand design.
“Not only is ASEAN strategically located on the Belt and Road routes, the region’s emerging economies are seen as future drivers of the regional and global economy.
“Undoubtedly, ASEAN will continue to be a focal point for the Belt and Road, with a number of major collaborative projects already under way in the region,” she said.
The WCEC will take place on September 15-18 in Yangon. MCCC members said that they plan to leverage the upcoming business convention as a platform to attract investments for infrastructure projects from Chinese investors from abroad.
The theme for the convention will be “Achieving historical milestones through economic liberalisation of Myanmar” with two emphases: ASEAN and the Belt and Road Initiative. Businesses hope to exchange information and draw up strategies on navigating the emerging risks and opportunities in the BRI as well as in ASEAN’s economic integration.