Young Hongkongers will get a chance to spend up to a year in France, thanks to a new working-holiday scheme starting in July.
The bilateral programme will open 200 places each year to applicants aged between 18 and 30. It allows them to take up employment in their host region to finance their stay.
The tie-up was sealed between visiting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung.
"Fifteen years after its handover to China, Hong Kong remains a very unique place, boasting strong structural and specific assets," Fabius told the Asia Society earlier yesterday.
France is the eighth working-holiday destination available for young Hongkongers and the third in Europe. The others are New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Canada and South Korea. Fabius, a former French prime minister, said he also hoped to boost business ties with Hong Kong.
On the second day of his two-day trip, Fabius officially opened Le French May, the city's annual French arts festival.
He noted that France and Hong Kong were partners not only in trade, but also in culture, education and research.
"When I see what has been done for 15 years, when I see the dynamism of the people here, and when I see the relationship between the Chinese authorities and this territory, I am very happy that many French people and French companies are here. I wish there could be more Hong Kong investment in France."
Hong Kong is home to about 15,000 French nationals, consulate data shows. The French make up the largest European student population in the city. France is the second destination for local students in Europe after Britain.