Free-trade agreement with Hong Kong 'good sign' for region
A FREE-TRADE agreement between Australia and Hong Kong would pave the way for the region's services sector to expand in east Asia's finance capital.
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo will open public submissions on the FTA proposal this week which would open up expansion avenues for Australia's services industry such as education and financial technology, as well as accounting and legal professionals.
Food Leaders Australia CEO Dr Ben Lyons said while the proposal announced on Monday was in its early days, it signalled "good news" for the Toowoomba and wider Darling Downs regions.
"Free-trade agreements are designed to open up more opportunities," Dr Lyons said.
"And Hong Kong will always be a bit of a window.
"It has often been missed that Hong Kong is a pretty vital link for both legal and financial sectors."
Trade and Investment Queensland identified education, student recruitment and investment in aged-care facilities in Queensland as mid-term opportunities in Hong Kong.
Long term, it identified advanced health and aged-care services, and opportunities in innovative technologies.
With a trade industry more than 90% reliant on imports and an economy closely aligned with Australia's tax and legal systems, Dr Lyons said it was also a "pretty important logistics and services hub" for the nation.
Wellcamp airport facilitates weekly freight flights with Darling Downs produce flown direct to Hong Kong.
Dr Lyons said the Access Hong Kong trade delegation later this year, developed with Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise, would explore the opportunities under the proposed FTA.
"A lot of people have been to Hong Kong but don't understand how important it is," he said.