Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Henry Tang, at the 2002 Hong Kong Awards for Services today (December 18): (English only)
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you this evening at the Award Presentation Ceremony of the 2002 Hong Kong Awards for Services.
The services sector is the lifeblood of our economy. It contributes to about 87 per cent of our GDP. In the second quarter of 2002, the services sector recorded a 1.8 per cent growth in real terms, while in the third quarter, performance of export of services picked up even further, with year-on-year growth of 14 per cent. Inbound tourism also surged by an encouraging 25 per cent, and export of transportation services and trade-related services both by 15 per cent. Demand from the Mainland market remains a key driver of these impressive figures.
Our services sector is uniquely placed to take advantage of the tremendous business opportunities that arise with China's entry into the WTO. We have a wealth of knowledge and expertise accumulated through decades of doing business with the Mainland, a legal regime most familiar to companies worldwide, an ability to integrate our knowledge of the market needs and a thorough understanding of global trends. What is more, our proximity to the vast manufacturing base in the Pearl River Delta enables quick responses to market demand and quick time-to-market. These all contribute to Hong Kong's role as an important service hub in the Delta region.
The Government will continue to play its part to create the most conducive and business-friendly environment so that businesses can thrive and realise their potential. We will maximise business opportunities arising from the Mainland and other markets. As you all know, we are working very hard to create greater economic synergy with the Pearl River Delta.
Our services sector is world-renowned for quality, efficiency and entrepreneurship. I am heartened to see that the business community is taking active steps to nurture these values among our younger generations. I know that business bodies have been organising competitions and orientation programmes for young people. Tonight, I am very pleased to see that the winners of one of these competitions, the University Student Innovative Business Contest, are amongst us to see for themselves what exemplary businesses are. I am sure the veterans in this audience will generously share your valuable experience with them.
The Hong Kong Awards for Services is now in its sixth year of success. I am encouraged to learn that we have set another record this year in terms of the number of entries received. Particularly worth highlighting is that fact that nearly half of the entrants are SMEs. I have no doubt that the Scheme will continue to play an important role in promoting high-quality services in Hong Kong.
Last but not least, I would like to extend my warmest gratitude to all the judges on the judging panel. I can imagine how hard it must have been for CY and his colleagues to pick winners from so many outstanding entries. My heartiest congratulations to all the winners. You have set an excellent example for others.
End/Wednesday, December 18, 2002