Chief Executive John Lee started his visit to Riyadh by meeting Saudi Arabian Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, where they exchanged views on establishing closer economic and trade ties between the two sides.
Mr Lee said that Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia have always maintained close bilateral trade relations. He hoped that through this visit, Hong Kong would establish deeper connections with various sectors in Saudi Arabia and strengthen its co-operation with Saudi Arabia on all fronts, including economy, trade, investment and culture.
Mr Lee also met the Deputy Governor of Public Investment Fund (PIF) Turqi A Al-Nowaiser. He was pleased to learn that the PIF recently opened a new office in Hong Kong, showcasing Saudi Arabia’s confidence and interest in Hong Kong, Mainland China and nearby markets.
Mr Lee pointed out that Hong Kong is situated in a strategic location, with unique advantages under the “one country, two systems” principle, along with world-class infrastructure and abundant professional talent. He added that 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, culture and the arts. In addition, Hong Kong is a bridge to 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 delegation to attend a luncheon hosted by Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Yin Lijun. He thanked the embassy for its continuous support to the Hong Kong SAR Government, and making detailed arrangements for the visit.
In the afternoon, the chief executive visited the “THE LINE Experience” exhibition to learn more about the innovative design of the NEOM, one of the PIF’s projects. He said Hong Kong, as an international financial centre, can play a pivotal role in channeling funding to that project.
At a press conference afterwards, Mr Lee said that the Middle East region, in particular the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are key links in the nation’s Belt & Road Initiative.
Mr Lee said: “Last December, President Xi Jinping attended the first China-Arab States Summit here in Riyadh, during which he pointed out that China and Arab states should focus on economic development and promote high-quality co-operation, and strengthen partnership in such areas as economy and trade, energy and infrastructure development, green development, health services and digital economy.
“As an integral part of China, Hong Kong is bestowed with unique advantages under the 'one country, two systems' principle. We enjoy the strong support of our country's national strategies while having unparalleled access and connectivity with the world.”
Mr Lee then attended Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – Hong Kong Investment Forum and Chinese New Year Gala Dinner.
During the event, Mr Lee announced that Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia will launch formal negotiations on an Investment Promotion & Protection Agreement.
He said: “The agreement will further promote bilateral investment flows and strengthen the confidence of investors from both sides. We are also working to begin negotiations on a memorandum of understanding promoting direct investment co-operation. That can only fast track our business and investment collaboration.”
Mr Lee will continue his visit in Riyadh today, and will depart for Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, later on.
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