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More 'accountability' to keep door open

THE president of Britain's Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy, said a more accountable European Commission will help to keep the community's door open to increasing trade.

Mr Kennedy, who is visiting the territory as a guest of the Hong Kong Government, said there is a 'really worrying' threat that the community would become an exclusive trade block.

But he believed the investment opportunities in the region and the accelerating momentum to make the commission's decision-making processes more accountable will help to sustain trade levels.

Mr Kennedy also endorsed the territory's support for China re-admission to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade but would not comment on whether it should be conditional on the mainland accepting developed-country status.

He believes the community must introduce a single currency to fully exploit its trading potential.

Last week, Victor Fung Kowk-king, chairman of the Trade Development Council, told a meeting of leading European industrialists, that European companies have consistently failed to fully exploit the commercial advantages of investing in China and the region.

In the past 14 years, the total investment of Britain, Germany and France in China accounted for about US$5.4 billion, or 2.8 per cent, of the total. This compares with US$148 billion, or 62 per cent, from Hong Kong investors.