Following is the speech by the Acting Financial Secretary, Mr Stephen Ip at the National Day Reception of Malaysia today (August 29): (English only)
Consul General, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, my warm congratulations on the 46th National Day of Malaysia.
I would like to thank the Consul General for his support during the outbreak of SARS in communicating the latest situation of Hong Kong to the Malaysian Administration.
As pointed out by the Consul General, Malaysia and Hong Kong have established a strong trade and investment relationship. Malaysia is our 6th largest trading partner in Asia, with total trade amounting to over US$7 billion last year. Our bilateral trade registered an impressive annual growth of 6.4% for the past 5 years.
On the investment front, Hong Kong companies have invested over US$3.6 billion in Malaysia. A number of well-known Hong Kong companies have significant businesses in Malaysia. For instance, HSBC operates 42 offices in Malaysia, while Hutchison Whampoa has a significant stake in the Westport Container Terminal. We look forward to further strengthening our economic ties.
The recent signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA, opens up tremendous opportunities for the international business community in Hong Kong. I must emphasize once again that CEPA is WTO-consistent, and the definition of Hong Kong companies is "nationality-neutral". With CEPA in place, we provide a highly advantageous platform for companies in Hong Kong, whether locally or foreign-owned, to tap the huge Mainland market.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we treasure our friendship with Malaysia and look forward to closer economic and cultural ties with Malaysia.
Now, let me propose a toast - "To the People of Malaysia"
End/Friday, August 29, 2003