Following is the full text of a speech delivered by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Stephen Ip, at the opening ceremony of Container Terminal 9 (CT9) this (July 22) evening (English only):
John (Meredith), Eric (Ip), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here in the sun today to officiate at the opening of CT9 which is an important milestone in the development of our container port.
Being the largest container terminal ever constructed in Hong Kong, the development of CT9 required the concerted efforts of the Government and the terminal operators to maintain the thriving momentum of our port activities. Upon full commissioning in 2005, the 6-berth CT9 will increase our planned handling capacity by more than 2.6 million TEUs.
Last year, Hong Kong set another record in its container throughput by handling more than 19.1 million TEUs. With the opening of this new berth, container throughput is expected to exceed the 20 million TEU mark this year. Roughly speaking, our port handles one 'box' (TEU) every one-and-a half seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Whilst the remaining works for CT9 moves ahead in full swing, matching progress is being made in the construction of the Shenzhen Western Corridor and a mirror bridge at Lok Ma Chau. These infrastructure developments will create new conduits and improve the existing crossings to facilitate movement of freight to the container port and will further strengthen Hong Kong's position as a leading transport and logistics hub.
We all know that the logistics sector has enormous potential, and there are good reasons for this optimism. Our container port has been the world's busiest in nine out of the last 10 years. Our airport has been handling the largest volume of international air cargo in the world since 1996. Our hinterland - the Pearl River Delta, often referred to as the "factory of the world", is the fastest growing and most open economic region in China. Gifted with the Mainland's rapid development, Hong Kong is well positioned to capitalise on the growing demand for cargo handling and logistics services especially when the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangements open the door even further for HK companies.
Having said that, we take nothing for granted and will work doubly hard, together with the private sector, to ensure the prospects become reality.
We will continue to plan for the future. We have embarked on a study entitled "Hong Kong Port - Master Plan 2020" on the long-term development strategy for the port of Hong Kong. The study will update the port cargo forecasts and will propose a competitive and sustainable strategy as well as a master plan for Hong Kong's port development, including the feasibility of constructing Container Terminal 10. The study will be completed by the end of this year.
Finally, let me express my very best wishes to the successful development of CT9 and the prosperity of the container port of Hong Kong.
End/Tuesday, July 22, 2003