Hong Kong, Canada continue enhancing ties

By NA LI in TORONTO | | Updated: 2017-02-23 05:23

Hong Kong, Canada continue enhancing ties

Kathy Chan, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Toronto) delivers her welcoming remarks at a Lunar New Year reception last Thursday in Toronto. NA LI / CHINA DAILY

Hong Kong and Canada will continue to enhance economic, human and cultural ties in 2017, Kathy Chan, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Toronto) (HKETO) said at a Lunar New Year reception hosted by HKETO and the Hong Kong Tourism Board (Canada) last Thursday in Toronto.

According to Chan, 2017 not only celebrates the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada, but also marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG). HKSARG will organise a wide variety of celebration events in Hong Kong, including mega cultural and sports programmes. She also invited the attendees to join a series of celebration activities in Canada that is being planned by the HKETO.

"Hong Kong has been rated as the freest economy in the world for 23 consecutive years by the United States' Heritage Foundation. We also continued to top the Fraser Institute's World Economic Freedom Index in 2016," Chan said.

"In addition, we have been assessed as the world's most competitive economy by the International Institute for Management Development," she added.

Turning to Hong Kong-Canada relations, Chan noted that the two nations continued to be important trading partners. With the coming into force of an investment promotion and protection agreement between the two sides in September 2016, she encouraged more Canadian companies, particularly start-ups, to establish a presence in Hong Kong.

Chan said the government exchanges between the two sides are frequent. Apart from visits by Gregory So, the secretary for commerce and economic development in February and June, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made an official visit to Hong Kong in September 2016, during which he met with C.Y. Leung, chief executive of the HKSAR.

While the two governments have agreed to increase the 2016 quota of the Working Holiday Scheme from 200 to 300 on a one-off basis, mutual-qualification recognition and student exchanges were also strengthened with the signing of agreements between universities of the two places in the past year.

Chan added that the HKSARG welcomes Canadian people to go to Hong Kong to develop their career. She said that a new pilot scheme has been operating since May 2015 to attract the second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents to pursue careers in the city. As of the end of last year, 37 applications from Canada had been approved.

Air transport is another area showing close Hong Kong-Canadian relations. "We now have on average 12 direct scheduled passenger flights daily between Hong Kong and Canada operated by Cathay Pacific and Air Canada. We are happy to see that the two airlines have recently entered into a joint collaboration agreement, making it easier for travellers from both sides to reach more destinations," she said.

As for cultural exchange, Chan said that the Hong Kong Ballet toured four Canadian cities with the classic Sleeping Beauty last year in March, while the Young Academy Cantonese Opera Troupe of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts staged a Cantonese opera performance of Monkey King in Toronto in September.

HKETO also continues sponsoring Hong Kong films to participate in prestigious film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Reel Asian International Film Festival. "We also organised a mini film event in May featuring two Hong Kong films which showcased the positive spirit and perseverance of the Hong Kong people," said Chan.

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