Following is a speech by the Secretary for Trade and Industry, Mr CHAU Tak Hay, at the opening ceremony of Viasystems Asia-Pacific Headquarters today (Monday) (English only):
Mr Conlon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of Viasystems's Asia-Pacific headquarters today.
The printed circuit board (PCB) industry has long been a niche-oriented industry. The ability to respond quickly to fast changing customer demand is the key to success or indeed survival.
Viasystems should rightly be proud of what it has achieved. Founded only in October 1996, the company has now emerged as one of the world's largest independent suppliers of PCBs, offering its services to customers around the world.
We are very pleased that Viasystems has chosen Hong Kong as the home of its Asia-Pacific headquarters. This is concrete evidence that Hong Kong continues to be a favoured business centre for multinational enterprises.
Indeed, there has been a resurgence of international interest in Hong Kong as a business hub now that the worst of the Asian financial turmoil is behind us. A recent survey conducted on regional representation by overseas companies has recorded an increase in the number of regional headquarters and regional offices in 1999 over 1998. This strengthened confidence is well-founded.
The substantial downward adjustment in prices in the past two years has rendered Hong Kong more competitive in cost terms. For example, office rentals and the cost of staff accommodation have fallen by some 30 per cent since the height of the property market boom in 1997. The level of operating costs has also dropped significantly.
At the same time, our economic fundamentals remain strong. Our world-class transport, telecommunications and financial infrastructure, strong legal system and tradition, low and simple taxation, clean and stable government, as well as our position as the gateway to the Mainland of China, are all treasured by international investors.
To Viasystems, I am sure that Hong Kong's geographical location has particular relevance. We are unrivalled for easy access to your recently acquired manufacturing facilities in Guangzhou and Zhongshan and as a base in your plan for further expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Government's policy drive towards the promotion and development of innovation and technology is another reason why international business should choose to locate in Hong Kong. We are firmly committed to providing the most conducive environment and the requisite infrastructure to realize the vision of making Hong Kong an innovation and technology centre for the region.
Our Science Park has recently been launched. In the next few years we will see further additions to our technology infrastructure, including a Cyberport for information services and an Applied Science and Technology Research Institute for mid-stream research and development.
In terms of funding support, we have already set up a $5 billion Innovation and Technology Fund to finance projects beneficial to innovation and technological upgrading of our industries.
To broaden our human capital base, we have also introduced an admission of talents scheme to enable employers to recruit the best talents from all over the world, in particular the Mainland of China, to work in Hong Kong.
We are very pleased that the Government's effort in the promotion of innovation and technology is matched by an enthusiastic response from the private sector, from local and overseas businesses alike. We have witnessed the establishment of a regional presence in Hong Kong by a number of technology-based multinational corporations over the past year.
The launch of Viasystems's Asia-Pacific Headquarters in Hong Kong is another piece of encouraging and welcome news to us. Coming at the beginning of the new year as well as the new century, it augurs well for the future. I am sure that all of you will wish to join me in wishing Viasystems every success in the years to come.
End/Monday, January 10, 2000