India, Hong Kong keen to deepen bilateral ties: CY Leung

New Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS) There is a clear consensus among India’s leadership for “broadening and deepening” the country’s over a century-old ties with Hong Kong, the chief executive of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) CY Leung has said.

“After meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and separate meetings with your external affairs and finance ministers, it is clear to me that there is a consensus here that there should be a broadening and deepening of India’s cooperation with Hong Kong,” Leung said at a dinner on Thursday night hosted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) at the conclusion of his India visit aimed at boosting bilateral trade.

Noting that bilateral trade grew by a healthy 12 percent in 2014, Leung said: “India is a country that has captured the attention and the imagination of the business world.” The bilateral trade in 2014-15 stood at around $20 billion.

“Met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning (Thursday) and both of us agreed to take our cooperation to a new level,” he added.

Outlining the advantages of China’s “one country, two systems” principle that governs Hong Kong, Leung described the SAR as “the freest economy in the world, saying it had been given this status for the last 22 years on the counts of business, trade and financial freedom”.

“Through Hong Kong, Indian companies can reach the markets of mainland China, Southeast Asia and the world,” the SAR chief executive said.

“Hong Kong’s expertise in doing business with China is unsurpassed and we are happy to share that expertise with India,” he added.

Pointing out that the SAR’s bank clearance systenm for the Chinese renminbi was unparalleled, he said few economies attract more foreign direct investment or make more FDI available than Hong Kong.

“In 2014, Hong Kong ranked second, internationally, in the FDI it drew and was also placed second in FDI outflow,” Leung said.

India was Hong Kong’s seventh largest trading partner, while Hong Kong was India’s eighth largest in 2014.

“HKTDC (with offices here and in Mumbai) looks forward to find opportunities for Indian businesses in Hong Kong,” Leung, who led a 40-member business delegation from both the SAR and the mainland, said.

Addressing the gathering, secretary in India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Amitabh Kant described Hong Kong, where only 21 percent of households own a car, as “the most innovative, creative and sustainable destination in the world”.

“The size and scale of Hong Kong’s development is a unique lesson for the whole world,” Kant said.

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