Patten to hammer importance of MFN

GOVERNOR Chris Patten is planning a keynote speech, stressing the importance Hong Kong places on renewal of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for China.

Mr Patten will deliver the speech on April 21, the eve of Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang's high-profile lobbying visit to the United States.

He spent much of yesterday discussing the prospects for renewal with the head of the Far East department of the Foreign Office, Christopher Hum, and the new head of the Hong Kong department, Sherard Cowper-Coles.

The Foreign Office view is that it is too early to tell whether MFN will be renewed.

''Nobody is taking anything for granted,'' one source said.

In his speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Mr Patten will outline the cost to the territory in jobs and trade if MFN is not renewed.

The Government views the chamber as a key ally in the MFN fight.

''It does a lot of lobbying for us and the idea of the speech is to give Mrs Chan's visit the best possible start,'' a Hong Kong Government spokesman in London said.

Mrs Chan's programme in the US is not yet finalised but she will spend much time with key Congressmen and administration officials.