Tung Chee Hwa, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), hosted a lunch for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, president of the Philippines, at the Government House Monday.
Tung welcomed President Arroyo and her delegation to Hong Kong. It is the first visit to Hong Kong by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo since she became the president and Tung hoped it is the first of many more to come.
Tung said Hong Kong and the Philippines have very strong and special ties.
Some 180,000 Filipinos live and work in Hong Kong and play a significant role in the economic development of both Hong Kong and the Philippines, he said.
Between 1996 and last year, the average annual growth in the bilateral trade between Hong Kong and Philippines exceeded seven percent, and the Philippines is now 16th largest trading partner of Hong Kong, he said.
Tung said he is pleaded that the governments of the Philippines and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region have agreed to enter into negotiation on an agreement on cultural cooperation.
"We look forward to enhancing co-operation and strengthening exchanges in this and many other areas of mutual interest and benefit," he added.
Mentioning the current economic downturns and challenges brought by globalization and by knowledge economy, Tung said Hong Kong is confident of its future.
Hong Kong is endowed with many distinct advantages including its unique geographical position and its strength as an international center for finance, trade, transport, logistics and tourism, he said.
"China's entry into WTO and eventually, the recovery of the world economy will provide us with many new opportunities to leverage on our strengths and deepen our role as a gateway to the Mainland of China, creating wealth and prosperity for Hong Kong and the people in the region," he added.
Before the lunch, Tung and the Philippine president had a bilateral meeting.
President Arroyo and her delegation arrived in Hong Kong Sunday. She attended the World Economic Forum's East Asia Economic Summit and delivered a keynote address to the summit Monday morning.
( Xinhua News Agency 10/29/2001)