Following is a speech by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology (Commerce and Industry), Miss Denise Yue, at the Combined Cocktail Reception "Hope & Glory" and "Switzerland welcomes Hong Kong back to Basel" today (September 3): (English only)
Secretary von Daniken, Consul-General Barras, Mr Michael Sze, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening. It is my honour to be invited to this combined cocktail reception of "Hope and Glory" and "Switzerland welcomes Hong Kong back to Basel". I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all our overseas visitors. I hope you will find Hong Kong an interesting and exciting place.
Hong Kong and Switzerland share many similarities. We are both relatively small economies but significant players in the world trading community.
We enjoy a very close trading relationship with each other. We reinforce each other's strengths through free trade. The unique affinity between us is borne out by the fact that we are both world leaders in the export of watches. In the first half of 2003, Hong Kong exported watches and clocks of US$182 million to Switzerland, which is a 24 per cent increase compared with the same period last year. Watches and clocks exported to Hong Kong from Switzerland also registered a very substantial growth of 24 per cent. Jewellery is Hong Kong's second largest export item to Switzerland, with a total value of US$63 million in the first half of this year, an increase of over 4 per cent.
The jewellery and watch fair, BASELWORLD, is the world's premier business platform and launch pad for companies in the timepiece business. They exhibit at BASELWORLD because of the vast business opportunities and because doing so enhances their image and marketing.
The watch and jewellery industry in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) have been staunch supporters of BASELWORLD since 1986. The Hong Kong Pavilion organised by TDC has always been the largest group pavilion. In 2001, 312 Hong Kong companies participated at the fair.
Hong Kong's strong support for BASELWORLD will not only receive formal recognition, but will move to a new height, following the signing of an agreement this morning between TDC and MCH Swiss Exhibition Limited, the organiser of BASELWORLD. The agreement provides certainty for Hong Kong's future participation at BASELWORLD and in a new hall. As the world's leading exporter of watches and jewellery, Hong Kong companies will be able to exhibit in Basel their beautifully-designed, fashionable jewellery and timepieces to buyers from all over the world. I am confident that this milestone agreement will further strengthen the economic relationship between Hong Kong and Switzerland. More importantly, this agreement signifies that our relationship can withstand the occasional severe challenge, such as that encountered during the SARS outbreak, and that mutually beneficial economic considerations and free market principles always prevail.
End/Wednesday, September 3, 2003