Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the SAR has gained the support of Beijing and several neighbouring countries to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that promotes free trade in the region.
Fifteen countries in the Asia-Pacific – China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) – signed the partnership agreement earlier this month, in what's being seen as an attempt by Beijing to counter American influence in the region.
Speaking at the Belt and Road Summit held online on Monday in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Lam said the SAR is the ideal partner for those who want to leverage on the Belt and Road initiative, thanks to its financial professionals and free flow of capital and information.
The chief executive also said Hong Kong is "more than qualified" to join the RCEP, with some of the members already giving the nod.
"We have, after all, free trade agreements in effect with Asean, Australia and New Zealand, as well as our closer economic partnership arrangement with mainland China," she said.
"We are grateful for the clear support we've received from some of the partnership member states and we look forward to beginning discussions on Hong Kong's accession to the partnership at the earliest opportunity."
Wang Bingnan, a vice minister of the Ministry of Commerce, also said at the summit that Beijing supports Hong Kong's bid to join the RCEP as soon as possible to further strengthen the city's trade cooperation with other parties in the region.