George Osborne MP, the UK Chancellor, addressed the British Chambers of Commerce in Hong Kong yesterday. His discussion of the UK’s economic recovery were widely reported but his international comments are well worth reading too. He pointed out that “Hong Kong and the UK are now doing more business together than ever before.”
In a key passage he says:
Hong Kong and Britain have always had a special bilateral relationship.
That’s about much more than our historic and legal ties.
It’s about our shared values.
It’s about the influence that your culture has had on British life – and that our culture has had here.
It’s based on the thousands of Hong Kongers who study and work in Britain and the quarter of a million British citizens who choose to work here in Hong Kong.
And of course it is also about our inextricably intertwined economies.
So whereas others could make the mistake of seeing Hong Kong as nothing more than a jumping point for trade with mainland China, we in Britain know just how important Hong Kong is as a destination its own right.
He also goes on to praise the economic strength and resilience seen in Australia, Canada and Malaysia.
In one passage he describes the UK and Hong Kong as “two of the most open, free-trading, financially connected places on earth.” While relatively speaking he is correct, it is worth pointing out that the two are not identical in this respect. Indeed on every major indicator and index Hong Kong surpasses the UK in this regard as can be seen in the below graphic which uses data from the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the International Chamber of Commerce and the Heritage Foundation:
We hope that the Chancellor will take note and encourage the UK and the rest of the Commonwealth to follow Hong Kong’s example in order to maximise the mutual benefits and prosperity that international trade can bring.
The full speech is available here.