His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, held an audience with Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam at Istana Nurul Iman yesterday.
The monarch discussed a range of issues with Lam, who is in Brunei as part of a regional swing to push for the swift conclusion of the ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
During the bilateral meeting, Lam expressed her appreciation for Brunei's support in the FTA negotiations. Negotiations for the treaty began during Brunei's tenure as ASEAN chair in 2013.
In an interview with local media, Lam said she expected the FTA to be concluded by 2016, with the fourth round of negotiations closing in Singapore recently.
"This FTA is important for Hong Kong because the country is embarking on the 'Silk Belt and Road' initiative … Through this FTA, we could enhance our services, trade, goods, investments, economic, technology, legal co-operation, etc."
Lam added that finalising the agreement would fit in well with China's regional connectivity plan - dubbed the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" - intended to revive an ancient trade route running from China through Southeast Asia and from the Indian Ocean to Europe.
"I don't see any major obstacles (to the ASEAN-Hong Kong FTA) and this 'Belt and Road' initiative should give us better impetus to conclude the FTA," she told reporters.
Later in the day, Lam also met HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, at Qashr Al-Meezaan.
The Hong Kong official then had luncheon with HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, at Bukit Kayangan.