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Asia

First Hong Kong trade office opens in Berlin

Hong Kong's Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) has set up a trade office to promote economic and trade relations between Hong Kong and Europe. It is its first trade office outside China since reunification in 1997.

Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration, Henry Tang officially opens the HKETO Berlin via video

Hong Kong Chief Secretary of Administration Henry Tang opened the HKETO Berlin via video

The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) was officially opened in Berlin at the end of March. It is Hong Kong's first trade office outside China since reunification in 1997. The aim is to promote economic and trade relations between Hong Kong and eight European countries.

HKETO Director Stephen Wong says the office will add better and further impetus to strengthen the partnership

Stephen Wong said it would strengthen the partnership between Europe and Hong Kong

The countries the Berlin HKETO is collaborating with include Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland. Just like the theme chosen for the opening - "A Pair of Chopsticks" - the "HKETO will add better and further impetus to enhancing the mutual understanding and strengthening the partnership," said director Stephen Wong in his opening speech.

In the past decade, Hong Kong has experienced very rapid growth in trade with the newer members of the EU. "Many enterprises were and still are prepared to do business with mainland China but were hampered by a lack of knowledge and experience. In this context, Hong Kong has much to offer," Wong added.

Quasi-diplomatic status

The HKETO first started its operation in Berlin in March 2009 upon the promulgation of an order of the German Federal Government. The then Federal Minister of Justice, Brigitte Zypries, announced the HKETO would practically have "the same rights of privileges and immunities as the diplomatic representation of a state", by virtue of the "one country, two systems" principle implemented after Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997.

"It is the only regional representative office in Germany which has a quasi-diplomatic status," added Almuth Hartwig-Tiedt, Permanent Secretary of the Berlin Government Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Women’s Issues.

Hartwig-Tiedt mentioned the HKETO was located in the right place: "Berlin is the political and administrative capital of Germany. The city is one of the leading congress locations worldwide and home of numerous organizations, international representations, companies and offices."

"Aggressive and important market player"

Traditional performance marks the opening of the HKETO in Berlin

A traditional performance marked the opening of the HKETO

Nearly 400 guests came from Hong Kong and Europe to celebrate the opening of the HKETO. A representative from HSBC Prague was enthusiastic about the office: "They organize seminars and trips, sending clients from the Czech Republic to Hong Kong to enhance the relationship between the two countries. Hong Kong is an aggressive and important player in the market, not only in the Czech Republic but in the whole of Europe."

The guest of honor, Henry Tang, Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary of Administration, was not able to attend the opening ceremony in person due to unexpected circumstances arising from the impact on Hong Kong of the recent natural disasters in Japan.

But, with the help of modern technology, Tang was able to officially raise the curtain at the opening of the HKETO via video.

Author: Miriam Wong
Editor: Sarah Berning

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