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EU/HONG KONG: COMMISSION ISSUES 2004 UPBEAT 'REPORT CARD' CITING TRADE TIES.

Political concerns.

The report notes that the central authorities produced a ruling allowing for only minor changes to the electoral system in 2007/8 - with Hong Kongs high level of autonomy granted to the HKSAR under Hong Kongs Basic Law, this appears inconsistent. The Commission, alas, had kept up high hopes that significant progress would be made towards the implementation of universal suffrage, as stated in the Basic Law.

On a brighter note, however, the report underscores that the overall conduct of the September 2004 legislative elections "testified to the political maturity of Hong Kong and showed that there is a sound basis for further democratisation", the Commission said in an August 5 statement. "The judiciary, primacy of the rule of law, and protection of rights, such as freedom of expression (including the healthy development of civil society) are among Hong Kongs greatest assets", it adds.

In addition, the new European Commission-Hong Kong agreement on the re-admission of illegal immigrants was successfully implemented and the Commission recognised the efforts made to improve protection of intellectual property rights. Concerns about the lack of a competition law remain, however.

Good news on the economic front.

The economy of the HKSAR recovered in 2004 with growth of 8.1%, while unemployment fell, the government deficit narrowed and deflation came to an end. The Hong Kong report notes that the EU and Hong Kong were each others 3rd trading partners in 2004 and that trade and financial flows continue to grow. EU companies, in particular, took the lead in financial and other service sectors.

Information on EU/Hong Kong relations is available at: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/hong_kong/intro/index.htm

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9HONG
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:282
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