Chief Executive John Lee on Friday hailed Hong Kong's ties with the Philippines, and said the SAR's potential accession to a regional trade pact could further boost Southeast Asian economies.
In a speech at a consular reception marking the Philippines' Independence Day, he congratulated Manila on joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership last week.
He said Hong Kong had received positive feedback on its own application to joined the RCEP trade deal, which is the world's largest free-trade agreement.
"Hong Kong’s bid to join the RCEP would certainly add further impetus to the region," Lee said. "We have submitted our formal accession request last year, and we are much encouraged by the positive responses of quite a number of RCEP members.
"In particular, I am thankful to the Philippines for the support given to Hong Kong in the course of seeking accession to the RCEP as soon as possible.
Lee also hailed the person-to-person links between Hong Kong and the Philippines, saying: "As the two places continue to strengthen our collaboration, I wish to express my gratitude to the Filipino community in Hong Kong, particularly the hundreds of thousands of Filipino domestic helpers here, for their great contribution to our society.
"We are thankful for their significant economic and social contributions over the years to the many families around Hong Kong, particularly in enabling many local women in families with children or the elderly to join our labour force.
"You have helped to build our city into the thriving metropolis that it is today, and we are proud to have you in our vibrant community."