Following is a speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, at the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2003 this (September 3) morning:
Michael, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning. I am very pleased to be here this morning to officiate at the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2003. I am also pleased to see that the organisers have placed an order with powers higher and beyond us that the typhoon would come and go with the precision of a well-made Swiss and Hong Kong watch, and would blow away any bad spirits that tried to linger on in Hong Kong. So, very well done, organisers. I would also like to extend a very, very warm welcome to our overseas buyers here today. Your presence demonstrates clearly that Hong Kong has resumed our natural state, which is a vibrant and cosmopolitan business-oriented city.
As the largest watch fair in Asia, the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair has long established ourselves as one of the best industry-wide platforms for reaching new markets and for growing businesses. We are also widely recognised as the best sourcing hub and a premier networking venue for industry players, both local and overseas alike. We are very proud to be the home of this premium Fair.
Hong Kong was the world's second largest exporter of complete watches in terms of both value and quality in 2001, while our export of complete clocks ranked the largest and the second largest in terms of value and quantity. Despite the short-term setback of SARS and what happened at the Basel Fair, our export of watches and clocks still reached 2.5 billion US dollars in the first six months of this year, which is a 14% year-on-year growth.
Looking ahead, our growth prospects are certainly positive. The recent signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between the Mainland and Hong Kong is destined to bring Hong Kong's economy to a new height. From January 1 of next year, a wide range of Hong Kong goods, certainly including the watch and clock industry, will enjoy zero tariff to the Mainland. On the services side, 17 sectors will be granted preferential access to the huge Mainland market.
At the same time, we are also enhancing our cooperation with our immediate neighborhood, the Guangdong Province. The enhanced cooperation will better integrate the premium logistics and trade services of Hong Kong with the quality manufacturing of the Pearl River Delta. This synergy will certainly create a highly competitive regional economy, ready for challenges in the 21st century.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association and the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades and Industries for your outstanding contribution to the development of Hong Kong's watch and clock industry. I would also like to congratulate the Hong Kong Trade Development Council for staging another very successful Fair.
I would like to wish everyone an enjoyable and a fruitful fair in Hong Kong. Thank you very much.
End/Wednesday, September 3, 2003