The Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office opened its doors for business in Taipei on May 15. During the opening ceremony, Minister Lai Shin-yuan of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) noted that relations between Taiwan and Hong Kong are close and that each is the other’s fourth-largest trading partner. She voiced the hope that the two sides will use the mutual establishment of offices as a platform for interaction that will expand the promotion of interaction and cooperation between the two.
Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary, John C. Tsang, noted in his opening address that Taiwan and Hong Kong have made substantial progress in the past two years in the areas of economic and cultural exchange, cooperation in financial supervision, bilateral transportation arrangements, and cargo transshipment. He also announced that the people of Taiwan would be able to arrange their own Hong Kong entry permits online beginning September 1, making travel there much more convenient.
The MAC’s office in Hong Kong, originally named the Chung Hwa Travel Service, changed its name to Taipei Economic and Cultural Office on July 15, 2011. MAC points out that the change of its Hong Kong unit’s name and the opening of the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei mark a milestone in Taiwan-Hong Kong relations.
According to statistics compiled by the Bureau of Foreign Trade, bilateral trade between Taiwan and Hong Kong totaled approximately NT$1.3 trillion in 2011. More than 2.2 million Taiwanese travelers visited Hong Kong that year, and Hong Kong residents visiting Taiwan topped 660,000 to set a new record.