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Speech by Secretary for Economic Services


Following is the full text of a speech by the Secretary for Economic Services, Ms Sandra Lee, at the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2002 today (July 10)ĄG(English only)

Mr Cheng, Mr Sze, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am more than delighted to be here today to officiate at the opening ceremony of this year's Fashion Week organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. I say this with added enthusiasm because it gives me the opportunity to see the creative work of some of our top designers on display. And believe me they deserve every praise for their talented creations. Today's event also allows me to 'window shop' during office hours. So, you can understand why I am really looking forward to visiting the exhibition after the opening ceremony.

You may also have noticed that I'm not particularly daring when it comes to the fashion stakes. It's not that I don't want to be. But I am always conscious of that famous quote made about the miniskirt in the late 1960s - "never in the history of fashion has so little material been raised so high to reveal so much that needs to be covered". That's why you will always see me very much covered up! However, because of the importance of the fashion industry to Hong Kong's economy, I hope that in covering up I am making a slightly more 'mature-look' fashion statement.

Last year the clothing industry was our biggest employer in the manufacturing sector - some 50,000 workers and domestic exports totalling almost $77.5 billion. Re-exports were valued at more than $111 billion. These are good reasons why we are determined to make sure Hong Kong has the capacity to cope with the rapid changes in trends and the means to get products to the market in a timely fashion.

And, timeliness is a vital ingredient : it can make the difference between success and failure. This is all the more so in the fashion world in which people's tastes and market demand change every season - sometimes even faster. The test of success has always been the ability to respond in good time.

Indeed, the e-revolution has made the fashion industry more competitive with everyone trying to cut response time to the minimum. Nowadays, the ability to compete in the fashion industry is not just a matter of designing the right clothes and producing them with good quality. It is also a matter of producing and getting them to the targeted market in the shortest possible time. Doing this requires improvements in supply chain management and the availability of good transport infrastructure and logistics services.

We in government are well aware of this 'critical time' challenge and have been improving our air, sea and land links to the world and with our hinterland, the mainland of China. In other words, improvements that will enable Hong Kong's businesses to sharpen their competitive edge. We are expanding the capacity of our port and progressively liberalising our air services agreements : we are developing new transport links to connect Hong Kong with the Pearl River Delta Region. And we have commissioned a study to look at how to strengthen our role as the preferred international and regional logistics hub. The results of this study will be available later in the year. All these developments will have a positive impact on the fashion industry and other businesses.

China's accession to the World Trade Organisation - hopefully later this year - and the removal of textile quota restrictions under the relevant multilateral agreement in 2005, will also open up new opportunities for the industry.

Ladies and gentlemen, the fashion business has always been associated with the catwalk and glamour. This event has these elements and much more. This is the business-end of the industry where the buying and selling take place.

That's why I am very pleased to see so many exhibitors - both overseas and local - taking part. I sincerely hope all of you will have a rewarding time and I wish Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2002 every success.

End/Tuesday, July 10, 2001


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