John Lee: Middle East countries want to learn more about Hong Kong
Updated 22:46, 12-Feb-2023

Middle East countries are excited about Hong Kong's defeat of COVID-19 and want to learn more about the city, Chief Executive of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), John Lee, said during his first overseas trip this year to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In an interview with China Media Group, Lee said he wishes to explore more opportunities for cooperation with his Middle East partners by telling them about Hong Kong's advantages in different sectors.

Hong Kong is rated as the freest economy, and its business environment has won high praise, he told his Middle East partners. "Doing business in the city is free, flexible and easy."

Lee said what's more important is that Hong Kong also serves as a gateway to the mainland, whose economy will keep prospering into the future. He also advocated the potential of the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area, which has over 86 million consumers and a GDP amounting to the combination of several European countries. 

"It is a market amazing to them," he said in the interview.

The Middle East has been very successful in the past few years, a proof that the region has driven its economy to grow, Lee said, adding that Hong Kong's openness and close bond with the global economy allows it to help Middle East countries with capital diversification in the financial sector.

"Any economy wishing to seek diversification must first take security into consideration, and as China's special administrative region, Hong Kong's edge is security," he said. 

During his visit, 13 memorandums of cooperation and letters of intent have been signed between companies and institutions from Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, covering sectors including finance, innovation and technology, commerce, construction, transportation and energy.

Lee said many of the people he met with expressed willingness to visit Hong Kong, and he has invited the heads of some sovereign funds in the Middle East to do so, to explore further cooperation opportunities in the financial sector.

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