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ASEAN's Role in the Global Economy

29 April 2024

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Hong Kong, 29 April 2024: Dr Lili Yan Ing, Secretary General of the International Economic Association (IEA) and a Senior Economist at ERIA, delivered a keynote speech at a public lecture on the ASEAN Seminar Series themed ‘Opportunities and Challenges from Regional Trade Agreements under the New World Order’ at The Civil Service College of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government. Organised by the Hong Kong Institute of Economics and Business Strategy (HIEBS) and moderated by Professor of Economics and Associate Director, Heiwai Tang from Hong Kong University, the event commenced with remarks from Oscar Kwok, the Head of the Civil Service College. Previous speakers in the lecture series included George Yeo, the former foreign minister of Singapore, and Andrew Sheng, the deputy managing director of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

Dr Ing began her presentation by highlighting the significant changes witnessed in ASEAN's position within the global economy over the past 50 years. She underscored that this transformation was chiefly driven by the rapid development and progress of emerging market economies such as China, India, Indonesia, and the Republic of Korea. These nations effectively capitalised on their comparative advantages through continuous structural transformations, technological advancements, and pragmatic approaches, emerging as major drivers of economic growth. The pivotal lesson learned from this experience underscores the importance of innovation, productivity enhancement, and the intricate interplay between industry, technology, infrastructure, and institutions for sustainable economic development.

Dr Ing then discussed Hong Kong's substantial export figures to ASEAN, totaling US$46.2 billion. The primary items of Hong Kong's exports and imports to ASEAN included semiconductors, electronic valves, and tubes, collectively constituting the largest share of total exports, accounting for 27% and 60.7% of Hong Kong's total imports from ASEAN, respectively. Exploring prospective opportunities for ASEAN in the fields of semiconductors and the digital economy, Dr Ing acknowledged the challenges that ASEAN faces and emphasised the need to enhance manufacturing value added and address domestic pressures arising from volatile political conditions affecting economic policies. To chart a path forward, she outlined three key initiatives: the formulation of development strategies, the strengthening of trade and investment relationships with current and potential partners, and the improvement of the trade and investment climate.

During the Q&A session, Dr Ing highlighted ASEAN's positive perspective on Hong Kong and urged the Hong Kong government and officials to proactively engage in trade and investment and foster better relations with ASEAN nations to further enhance cooperation and partnership.


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