Attending the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting (AELM) on behalf of the Chief Executive, Financial Secretary Paul Chan joined discussions on strengthening the interconnectivity and mutual co-operation within the region, and improving the inclusiveness and resilience of economic development.
Mr Chan told reporters in the US city of San Francisco that the meetings enabled him to have a better grasp of how various economies see the economic prospects in 2024.
“Everyone seems to agree that in the coming year, the first and foremost task is to grow the economy, so as to rebuild the financial buffer and fiscal space as well as through development, improve the quality of life of people.”
At the AELM, Mr Chan said that while the global economy is facing multiple challenges and high interest rates may remain higher for longer, it is important to strengthen the resilience of the banking and financial systems to effectively cope with unknown risks.
He also noted that geo-economic fragmentation is a stumbling block to regional and even global development, and economies should work together to maintain and optimise the environment for mutual investment and trade.
The finance chief emphasised innovation and the digital economy are the core engines for prosperity and development, and that all economies should work together to achieve a digital transformation, adding that Hong Kong has launched various initiatives to foster the prosperous development of electronic payments and e-commerce of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Mr Chan said he looked forward to deepening the co-operation on the digital economy with APEC and that he supported the World Trade Organization in achieving more concrete and practical results in promoting digital trade.
The AELM endorsed the Golden Gate Declaration, reaffirming APEC's determination to deliver a free, open, fair, transparent, inclusive and predictable trade and investment environment, and create a resilient and sustainable future.
When asked about his interactions with President Xi Jinping at the APEC meetings, Mr Chan said he took the opportunity to update the President on the city.
“He is very kind to Hong Kong and cares about Hong Kong. I took the opportunity to brief him about the economic and social situation in Hong Kong and the initiatives taken by this term of Government, particularly on attracting strategic enterprises and attracting talent.”
Mr Chan pointed out that the Government focuses on four areas: artificial intelligence and big data analytics; biotech, biomedicine and health science; fintech; and new materials, new energy and advanced manufacturing, and that it plans to organise more events to attract more international businesses and visitors to come to Hong Kong to see for themselves the opportunities in the city.
After seeing off the President at San Francisco International Airport with the national delegation, Mr Chan departed for Hong Kong.
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