Following is a speech by the Secretary for Trade and Industry, Mr CHAU Tak Hay, at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Exporters' Association Headquarters today (April 26) (English only):
Jeffrey, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to congratulate the Hong Kong Exporters' Association on the opening of its new headquarters today.
The Association's new headquarters is being opened at a time when our economy is well on its way to recovery - a recovery that is being led by our external trade performance. Hong Kong's export performance has rebounded remarkably. The value of total exports has had double-digit growth for four consecutive months since November last year. In the first two months of 2000, the value of total exports increased sharply by nearly 17 per cent over the same period last year, thanks to an across-the-board surge in exports to our major markets. Hong Kong's total exports to the Mainland alone rose by 19 per cent. For this year as a whole, our forecast is that our total exports of goods will grow by 8.2 per cent, compared with only 3.7 per cent in 1999.
Looking further ahead, China's entry into the World Trade Organisation will present enormous opportunities for Hong Kong businesses. The substantial downward adjustment in prices in Hong Kong in the past two years has made Hong Kong more competitive. Our knowledge of the Mainland's markets and our world-class business services will enable us to take advantage of the vast opportunities which will flow from China's further market liberalisation.
Trade is Hong Kong's lifeblood. For over four decades the Hong Kong Exporter's Association has played an active and constructive role in promoting Hong Kong's trade, in collating information on trade practices in overseas markets, in representing and advocating the interests of Hong Kong's traders and in providing valuable advice to the Government. Thanks in no small part to the Association's work, Hong Kong is now the world's ninth largest trading entity. As our trade grows, the Association's work also takes on greater complexity and significance and yet the Association continues to do its work extremely well.
Finally, I wish to congratulate the Association once again on the opening of its new headquarters, which signifies the Association's commitment to the community. I wish the Association every success in the years to come.
End/Wednesday, April 26, 2000