The following is the full text of a speech by the Secretary for Economic Services, Ms Sandra Lee, at the dinner hosted by Dutch Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management today (March 30): (English only)
Minister Netelenbos, ladies and gentlemen,
After listening to your speech, Minister, which reinforced the deep involvement of Dutch companies in our major infrastructure projects, I was beginning to wonder if the Netherlands had cornered the market for Hong Kong's development! The list of companies and projects you mentioned - which was certainly by no means exhaustive - does emphasise the close ties we have with the Netherlands. Ties that go back well over a century.
I'm sure you will be pleased to know that our development plans haven't stopped yet and that the commercial opportunities will be just as abundant in the future, if not more so, with new infrastructural projects in the pipeline.
For instance, between now and 2016, twelve railway projects costing some US$25 billion will be built. Another US$5 billion has been earmarked for road projects in the next five years. And, a strategic study currently under way by the Airport Authority will identify additional passenger and cargo facilities for our new International Airport. These will be required to enable the airport to realise its ultimate design capacity of handling 9 million tonnes of cargo and 87 million passengers a year. Indeed the latest statistics from the Airports Council International still rank Hong Kong as the world's busiest airport for international cargo and the 5th for international passengers.
All these undertakings are aimed at positioning Hong Kong for the developments taking place in the region, particularly China's impending accession to the World Trade Organisation which will create further opportunities in Hong Kong as the springboard into the Mainland.
Our vision is to stamp Hong Kong as Asia's World City - a city that embraces innovation and technology, a city that builds on its strengths as an international financial and business centre, and as a hub for international communications and transportation. Given your rich expertise and experience in the transport, construction and logistics sector, I am sure we will have much to benefit from the growing Dutch economic presence in Hong Kong. And believe me there is a thriving Dutch community here. You only have to read the lively and informative monthly magazine of the Dutch Business Association to appreciate the value of our large international community here.
Minister Netelenbos, you also mentioned in your speech the close co-operation between the Netherlands and Hong Kong at the official level. I couldn't agree with you more. I believe there is enormous value in exchanging views and ideas on a regular basis. The visits enhance the spirit of co-operation and serve to strengthen the bonds of friendship between our two communities. Indeed, I am very much looking forward to visiting Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague during my promotional trip to Europe in May. And I hope to see even more exchange visits of this nature in future.
Minister Netelenbos, let me once again welcome you and your delegation to Hong Kong. I hope you have an enjoyable stay here and I look forward to further enhancing our ties with the Netherlands.
End/Friday, March 30, 2001