Hong Kong Government Press Release/Xinhua News
6th February 2023 – (Riyadh) The Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, started his visit programme in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 5th February (Riyadh time).
In the morning, Mr Lee met with the Minister of Investment of Saudi Arabia, Mr Khalid Al-Falih, and exchanged views on establishing closer economic and trade ties between the two sides. Mr Lee said during the meeting that Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia have always maintained close bilateral trade relations. He hoped that through this visit, Hong Kong could establish connection with various sectors in Saudi Arabia and strengthen the co-operations with Saudi Arabia on all fronts, including economy, trade, investment and culture.
After that, Mr Lee met with the Deputy Governor of Public Investment Fund (PIF), Mr Turqi A Al-Nowaiser. He was pleased to learn that PIF recently opened a new office in Hong Kong, showcasing Saudi Arabia’s confidence and interest in Hong Kong, Mainland China and the nearby markets. He pointed out that Hong Kong is situated in a strategic location, with unique advantages under the “One country, Two systems”, along with world-class infrastructures and abundant professional talents. Saudi Arabian capital and investment can have boundless opportunities in Hong Kong, including in the areas of finance, innovation and technology, infrastructure construction, high-quality development, and culture and the art. In addition, Hong Kong is a bridge to enter the Mainland market, and also is one of the engines for the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, creating a huge space for investment and development.
Mr Lee then led the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) delegation to attend a luncheon hosted by the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mr Yin Lijun. Mr Lee expressed his gratitude to the Embassy for its continuous support to the HKSAR Government, and making detailed arrangements for the visit.
In the afternoon, the delegation led by Mr Lee visited the “THE LINE Experience” exhibition to learn more about the innovative design of the NEOM, one of PIF’s projects. NEOM is a smart city being built in northwestern Saudi Arabia which promotes innovation in the aspects of commerce, livability and sustainable development in future. Mr Lee said Hong Kong, as an international financial centre, can play a pivotal role in channeling the funding to NEOM.
In the evening, the delegation led by Mr Lee attended Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – Hong Kong Investment Forum and Chinese New Year Gala Dinner. Organised by Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Dubai and Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the event was attended by over 300 representatives of local authorities and business leaders.
In his speech, Mr Lee announced in the forum that after rounds of productive exploratory discussions of the two sides and his meeting with the Minister of Investment of Saudi Arabia today, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia will launch formal negotiations on an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA). The IPPA and its negotiations will send a positive signal to the business communities of the two sides, and help strengthen investor confidence and increase bilateral investment flows.
During the forum, Mr Lee and Mr Khalid Al-Falih witnessed the exchange of six Memorandum of Understandings or Letter of Intent between Hong Kong and Saudi Arabian enterprises or organisations, covering finance, innovation technology, business, transportations and energy, etc.
A Hong Kong-based chamber group Ensemble Silka played tunes by eastern and western musical instruments during the event to present cultural diversity.
Mr Lee will continue his visit in Riyadh today, and will depart for Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates later on.
Meanwhile, Mr Lee said on Sunday that there is huge potential for expanding Hong Kong’s cooperation with the Middle East.
He made the remarks during a press conference held on the sidelines of his visit to Saudi Arabia as part of a Middle East tour, which also includes the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Lee leads a high-level delegation organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), consisting of more than 30 business heavyweights from various sectors, including finance and trade, industrial, professional services, infrastructure and development, innovation and technology, as well as transport and logistics.
As the world’s freest economy, a major international financial center and the world’s largest offshore RMB center, Hong Kong is determined to fully cooperate with and contribute to the Middle East region and other Belt and Road countries “with our world-class financial, business and professional services,” Lee said.
“We enjoy the strong support of our country’s national strategies while having unparalleled access and connectivity with the world,” Lee said.
Hong Kong has been facilitating businesses and investors worldwide to tap into the vast markets in Greater China and Asia, playing a significant role in the global financial system with its special connectivity with the Chinese markets, he said.
Lee also announced the launch of negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the HKSAR government on the legally binding Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and other partnership agreements.
Meanwhile, HKTDC Chairman Peter KN Lam said that the Middle East has a vital role to play in the global economy, and Saudi Arabia is a significant player in the region.
During Lee’s visit, the delegation will explore collaboration opportunities with the business community of Saudi Arabia and discuss ways for Hong Kong to facilitate the Arab country’s strategic development through its role as a global financial hub and China’s international gateway.