The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, visited Brussels on 22-23 January 2018 to deepen Hong Kong's ties with the European Union and Belgium.
On 23 January, Mr Yau met with the Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness of the European Commission, Mr Jyrki Katainen. He highlighted the importance of Hong Kong's trade and economic relationship with the EU and updated him that Hong Kong was taking an active and unique role in the national policy of the Belt and Road Initiative, which would present enormous collaboration opportunities between Europe and Hong Kong, such as in green financing and infrastructural projects.
They also exchanged views on the issues ahead in global trade and affirmed the commitment of both sides towards the rule-based multilateral trading system in the next stage of work after the 11th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In addition, Mr Yau attended a luncheon co-hosted by the Belgium-Hong Kong Society and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Brussels (HKETO, Brussels). He briefed the attending board members the latest developments of Hong Kong in areas such as creative industries and tourism as well as Hong Kong's unique role in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Mr Yau visited the Belgian Comic Strip Center to learn more about Belgium's comic art. Housed in a historic building, the Centre aims to conserve and promote comics, and safeguard and showcase the museum building, an architectural masterpiece. Noting that Belgian comics was featured in various exhibitons held in Hong Kong in the past, Mr Yau said he looks forward to more such collaborations in the near future.
Mr Yau also attended a dinner hosted by the Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, Mr Qu Xing. He expressed his gratitude to the Chinese Embassy in Belgium for its support to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and the HKETO, Brussels all along.
On 24 January, Mr Yau met with the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs, Mr Didier Reynders. Mr Yau said Hong Kong has always been playing an important role as a gateway for many European companies, including companies from Belgium interested in the Chinese and Asian markets.
He encouraged Belgian companies to ride on the preferential treatments in trade and investment offered to companies based in Hong Kong under the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement and make use of the city's professional services to expand their operation in Asia, particularly in Mainland.
Mr Yau also had a meeting with the Director-General for Trade of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Luc Demarty. They exchanged views on matters relating to the development opportunities for EU countries and companies in Hong Kong.
In addition, Mr Yau paid a courtesy call on the Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, Mr Zhang Ming. He updated him on the latest developments in Hong Kong and work relating to the Belt and Road Initiative, including a forum to be held in Beijing to promote Hong Kong's role in the Belt and Road Initiative to relevant Mainland authorities and state-owned enterprises.
Mr Yau proceeded to Davos, Switzerland, on 24 January 2018 to join part of the Chief Executive's visit programme and attend the World Trade Organization Informal Ministerial Gathering held on 26 January.