【Video】【Belt and Road Initiative】Former commerce minister Gregory So: Working with the Middle East is a win win solution. We all want free trade. Let’s say no to unilateralism!

//The Middle East, a new market which can’t be ignored by Hong Kongers.//

Among the Belt and Road regionsthere is a new market that can’t be ignored—the Middle East. 

Former Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of Hong Kong Gregory So Kam-leung said, “That is one of the most exciting development in the last 2 years, particularly from Hong Kong perspective.”

“That market is expanding a very young population. The GCC(The Gulf Cooperation Council) market has about 58 million people in it, and the GDP is about 2.2 trillion US dollar. That is 6 times in size of the Hong Kong economy, more than half of the population is under the age of 25. So they have a very rich pool of human resources.”

“They played a lot of emphasis on education on the environment and technology. All these if you compared to what the Greater Bay Area , the policies are very very similar. So Hong Kong business man could simply target these, and using Hong Kong’s relative advantage all these area to help them develop to diversify. So it's a win win solution.”

How can the Hong Kong businessman doto expand the opportunities in the Middle East?

“I think there are a lot of good collaborative opportunities. The first is that we have to foster mutual understanding of different economy. A lot of Middle East countries , their sovereign funds already have representative office in China. But more education need to be done in the business level. So I think bilateral visit it is very important.” Gregory So said. 

“One of my plans is to help Hong Kong business chambers to pay visit to the Middle East and vice versa, so that we could do more matching of services and products, understanding each other and explore the opportunities. Particularly as Middle East would like to expand away from the petroleum industry.”

How to deal with the trade protectionism and unilateralism causing by the western countries?

Gregory So said, “When I was the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, we always talk about "open and free trade". The latter years somehow the western country floated this idea of "open and fair trade". Meaning whatever subjectively is beneficial to a particular country. So that goes against my notion of "open and free trade". The way to deal with this is to adhere to international rules and standards, like the WTO that we all abide by this set of rule , instead of unilaterally changing the rule itself.”