Following is the speech by Acting Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Opening of the Seminar on E-commerce in the New Millennium today (May 31):
Mr Baker, Mr Lau, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to be here this morning to open the seminar, "E-commerce in the New Millennium". I would like to thank APEC and the Asia Oceania Electronic Messaging Association for bringing this seminar to Hong Kong.
The event today is a part of a series of e-commerce awareness seminars which is being organised throughout the Asia Pacific region under the auspices of APEC. The Hong Kong Government fully supports the objective of enhancing the understanding of businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), of the potential benefits of e-commerce. The organisers have brought together a very distinguished group of speakers from around the region to share with us their insight and experience on a wide range of topics concerning e-commerce, from business strategies, infrastructure, to practical issues like security and legality.
There is no doubt that the development of e-commerce has transformed the way businesses deliver their products and services to their customers. It is also changing the way a business works with its partners. This global network allows vendors and service providers to explore new and overseas markets economically and effectively. It also allows business partners to share critical and timely information electronically. This provides plenty of scope for us to streamline supply chains, shorten production cycles, improve efficiency and productivity, reduce costs, and, most important of all, reach new customers.
I believe that the SMEs in Hong Kong are well positioned to take full advantage of opportunities arising from e-commerce :
* Hong Kong businessmen are well known for their entrepreneurial spirit and responsiveness to change. With their intuitive market sense, they are certainly not averse to new ways of extending their existing network and clientele. When it comes to responding to market demand at Internet speed, Hong Kong businessmen have a good track record that they are amongst the most efficient in the world.
* Hong Kong is an excellent place for e-commerce ventures to raise the necessary capital for development and expansion. The Growth Enterprise Market in Hong Kong, established in November last year, has already helped 25 emerging growth companies, many of which are IT and e-commerce related, raise over a total of HK$10 billion. Hong Kong's emergence as one of Asia's largest venture capital centre has also provided local start-ups with a readily available source of capital. As at mid-1999, the amount of venture capital managed through Hong Kong amounted to over HK$130 billion.
* Hong Kong is also served by an excellent infrastructure in support of the development of e-commerce. In telecommunications, we have the world's first fully digitised network since 1995. All of the commercial buildings and over 80% of domestic households are already covered by our broadband network, and our external connectivity is amongst the highest in Asia, set to increase by about 10 times in the next three years. Trade by electronic means will still require the movement of goods on the ground. Thanks to our excellent physical facilities and highly sophisticated operators, Hong Kong is the world's busiest air cargo hub as well as the world's busiest container port. Our traditional strengths in transportation and logistics will enable our SMEs to support their e-commerce efforts by delivering their products and services to all corners of the world in a timely manner.
Hong Kong fully recognises the importance of e-commerce as a major engine to drive our economic growth in the new millennium. The Hong Kong Government is committed to providing a favourable environment for e-commerce to flourish. Our major initiatives include : providing a clear legal framework for the conduct of electronic transactions through the introduction of the Electronic Transactions Ordinance; providing a secure environment for electronic transactions through the setting up of a local public key infrastructure supported by the operation of certification authorities; and acting as a catalyst to pump-prime the development of e-commerce through the launching of an Electronic Service Delivery scheme to provide Government services online to the community.
With e-commerce, the success formula changes: we are talking about real-time, truly global competition. There is so much to learn about from each other in this new race. I look forward to even more such opportunities in future for us to exchange views and share experience.
End/Wednesday, May 31, 2000