STI's speech at the Hong Kong Trade Centres Association Inaugural Business Forum


Following is the full text of the keynote remarks (English only) by the Secretary for Trade and Industry, Mr CHAU Tak Hay, at the Hong Kong Trade Centres Association Inaugural Business Forum today (Monday):

Mr Tozzoli, Miss Wu, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to begin by congratulating you, Mr Tozzoli and Miss Wu, and your colleagues on the inauguration of the member association in Hong Kong of the World Trade Centres Association (WTCA).

The theme of this Inaugural Business Forum, "Trading into the Millennium Tomorrow", is most timely, not only because we are now in the last year of the present millennium, but more importantly, because members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are now actively preparing for the next round of multilateral trade negotiations, which will be launched at the start of the new millennium.

Through eight successive rounds of multilateral trade negotiations, as a result of which customs tariffs have been significantly reduced, trade barriers on goods and services have been either removed or reduced and markets have been opened up, the WTO has contributed substantially to both the growth of world trade as a whole and the economic development of many individual economies. We need to keep up the momentum of trade liberalisation. In addition, we need to ensure that the framework of multilateral rules under the WTO remains relevant and responsive to the needs and challenges of an increasingly globalised and technology-driven world economy. Hence, Hong Kong, as the world's staunchest practitioner of free trade, will spare no effort in pushing for the launch of a new round of comprehensive and balanced multilateral trade negotiations.

In bringing together the business sectors in cities all over the world, the World Trade Centres Association has played an important role in ensuring that the voice of business is heard and taken into account when governments decide what the rules of international trade should be. Hong Kong is the world's eighth largest trading entity and the establishment of the WTCA Hong Kong marks an important milestone in the history of the WTCA. I look forward very much to a useful and meaningful dialogue between the WTCA Hong Kong and the Government.

Thank you.

End/Monday, February 8, 1999