I look forward to making the first official visit by an Australian Prime Minister to Hong Kong since 1984. This is an important opportunity to further strengthen our cooperation on trade, investment, innovation, law enforcement and combating transnational crime.
I will meet with Hong Kong Chief Executive Mrs Carrie Lam, as well as key business leaders and investors from Hong Kong and greater China, Australian industry leaders and community groups.
My visit coincides with two significant anniversaries - the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the 45th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations between Australia and the People’s Republic of China.
Hong Kong is an important economic partner for Australia - our fifth largest source of investment and eighth largest destination for exports. Negotiations on an Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement are well underway and we are both committed to concluding an ambitious, high-quality agreement in the first half of next year.
Australia is committed to ‘One Country, Two Systems’ with Hong Kong enjoying a high degree of autonomy. The rule of law, independent judiciary and freedoms that Hong Kong enjoys under the Basic Law are the foundations of its extraordinary success. This is one reason why Hong Kong has the second largest concentration of Australians overseas after London (around 100,000) and Australia’s largest commercial presence in Asia.
Australia and Hong Kong are identifying new areas of collaboration in the digital world. With growing institutional and commercial links in FinTech, smart cities, big data analytics, and healthy ageing, I will be encouraging further collaboration with Hong Kong in these dynamic sectors of its economy.
Australia works closely with Hong Kong law enforcement and regulatory bodies on countering transnational crime, money laundering, illegal trade in narcotics and promoting good governance and cyber security. We will offer to share information and provide support as Hong Kong strengthens its counter terrorism efforts.
I will also discuss the grave threat that North Korea’s ongoing provocations pose to our region. North Korea seeks to exploit busy trading hubs like Hong Kong in order to raise revenue for its illegal weapons programs. The international community must work together to apply maximum pressure on North Korea if we are combat this threat. Australia will work with Hong Kong, and all our partners in Asia, to effectively implement UN Security Council sanctions against the North Korean regime.
Australia values the depth of the people-to-people links with Hong Kong, and the importance of cooperation in education, tourism, sports and culture to the future of the relationship.