Following is a speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, at the 40th Anniversary luncheon of the Hong Kong Standards and Testing Centre today (October 21) (English only):
Bill, Dr Fung, Ladies and Gentlemen,
When my dear old friend, Bill called me up a little while back, inviting me to lunch, I kind of expected that he would give me a free lunch. And like a crafty old scorpion, he stung at the end, and he said, "Well, in the course of getting your free lunch, we would like you to get up there and say a few words." And then I realised that it was not going to be a free lunch afterall.
But, it is very nice and I am very happy and honoured to be here not just to meet old friends, but more so to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Standards and Testing Centre (HKSTC).
HKSTC has served our industries since 1963. During the forty years since its establishment, HKSTC has grown from a very small technical unit to a large multi-disciplinary product testing, certification and inspection body of substantial size. The service that HKSTC provides has greatly facilitated the export of a wide range of products from Hong Kong to all corners of the world.
And, I have a confession to make that when I was still in the private sector, we were a fairly substantial customer of HKSTC. So, way back in 1986, HKSTC was the first commercial laboratory to be accredited under the Hong Kong Laboratory Accreditation Scheme. HOKLAS accreditation is an official recognition of their technical competence and an indication that the laboratory is of international standard. Since then, HKSTC has progressively expanded its scope of accreditation - from toys, textiles and food testing to electronic and electrical products, children's products, environmental, chemical and Chinese medicine testing. HKSTC has also obtained HKIAS (Hong Kong Inspection Body Accreditation Scheme) accreditation for inspection of consumer products through a subsidiary company. HKSTC's interest in seeking accreditation is a demonstration of your commitment to providing high quality testing and inspection service and to a continual improvement in services.
The work of HKSTC is not only tied to changing and growing demands of industry but also to the overall economic development of Hong Kong. The recent signing of the Mainland - Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) will greatly expand the horizons of our businesses beyond the boundary of Lo Wu, it will foster deeper economic integration and freer flow of people, capital, and goods between the two places.
As we know, one of the important effects of CEPA will be to drive our economic restructuring further towards more innovation. The zero import tariff preference will attract to Hong Kong manufacturing of brand name products, or manufacturing processes with high value-added content or substantial intellectual property input, which will further enhance the competitiveness of our manufacturing industries and stimulate trade between Hong Kong and the Mainland.
I foresee that CEPA will encourage manufacturers and exporters to demand better and more stringent product quality control, testing and inspection services since they are required to assure that their products comply with safety and quality standards. In turn, this will create countless opportunities for the further development of HKSTC, as well as other companies in this sector.
The Government has built confidence in the testing, certification and inspection service industry through the Hong Kong Accreditation Service. HKAS has concluded mutual recognition arrangements with accreditation bodies of some 40 economies worldwide including major industrialised nations and through these arrangements, conformity assessment results issued by accredited organisations in Hong Kong are accepted in these overseas economies. This is in line with WTO's and APEC's policy of encouraging members to use accreditation and mutual recognition arrangements as tools to facilitate trade. CEPA also provide a framework to strengthen co-operation in promoting testing, certification and inspection services between Hong Kong and the Mainland.
Indeed, many representatives of Mainland cities are present here with us today, we thank you for your honoured presence. HKAS has an important role to play in supporting the conformity assessment business in Hong Kong. The international acceptance of HKAS accredited services is an important asset which local conformity assessment bodies are ready to capitalise on. In the past year alone, the total number of conformity assessment bodies accredited by HKAS increased by 11% from 118 to 131. Moreover, 36% of the accredited bodies had their accreditation expanded to cover additional activities.
This year is a memorable year for the Hong Kong Standards and Testing Centre because you are celebrating 40 years of service to the industry. Bill, fellow directors and all the staff member of HKSTC, I would like to take this opportunity to offer you my heartiest congratulations for your 40 years of service and your important contribution to Hong Kong. While I understand, and I can appreciate that most of you have not been here for the whole past forty years, maybe Bill has, I am sure that the Centre will continue with its excellent work in the years to come, and I wish you all the best for the future.
Thank you very much.
Ends/Tuesday, October 21, 2003