Mrs Regina Ip Met with French MPs on Belt and Road Initiative
On 9 December, Mrs Regina Ip, Co-Chair of Maritime Silk Road Society (MSRS), met with a delegation of Members of Parliament from France at the Legislative Council Complex. The delegation was led by Mr Pascal Allizard, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces and was accompanied by Mr Eric Berti, Consul General of France in Hong Kong and Macau.
During the meeting, Mrs Ip was informed that the delegates visited Beijing before arriving in Hong Kong and would depart for Islamabad and Karachi. The meeting started with the discussion of the involvement of French enterprises under the Belt and Road Initiative in areas of trade, infrastructure development, and finance collaboration, etc.
Mrs Ip quoted the Big Data Report of Trade Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative by saying that the top trading partners of China in 2016 were Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, India and Russia. She also said that as an international financial centre and a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Hong Kong plays a significant role in helping the Belt and Road countries in raising fund for their infrastructural development. To propel the funding process, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority set up the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (IFFO) in Mid-2016 to promote market and product development and to facilitate infrastructure investment and financing flows. Last month, Hong Kong and the ASEAN countries signed a Free Trade Agreement to reduce the restrictions in doing business and expand business opportunities for Hong Kong enterprises. Mrs Ip also indicated immense developmental potential is anticipated to be offered by the Greater Bay Area in China which encompasses nine cities in the Guangdong provinces and two Special Administrative Regions, Hong Kong and Macao.
Mrs Ip also took the opportunity to introduce “Operation Zhang Qian”, a summer internship scheme initiated by herself and undertaken by the Maritime Silk Road Society. Since its inception two years ago, the programme provided internship places for more than 170 Hong Kong university students to work for four to eight weeks in the Mainland, ASEAN countries and Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Prague and Greece.
In conclusion, the delegation expressed interests in seeing more development and collaboration under the Belt and Road Initiative to be extended into Western Europe while exploring possibilities in providing internship places for Hong Kong undergrads to work in France as summer interns.