The Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, and his Council of International Advisers had a broad-ranging and productive exchange of views on the global and regional economic trends affecting Hong Kong's long-term development at its sixth meeting today (November 6).
The visiting Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan met with the advisers before the start of the Council's meeting to discuss the latest economic developments on the Mainland and Hong Kong's growing integration with the Mainland, particularly with Guangdong.
The visiting Vice-Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, Mr Zhang Xiaoqiang, also joined the Council meeting to brief members of the Council on the Mainland's economic development policies and strategies.
During the meeting, members examined the global economic scene including the US, Europe, China and Japan and the outlook for 2004. China continues to be the fastest growing economy in the world.
They acknowledged that the surge in Asia-Pacific's intra-regional exports signified its rising importance in world trade. They were also of the view that Hong Kong, with the implementation of CEPA and its further economic integration with the Pearl River Delta, would play an increasingly important role in channelling trade between the Mainland and the other Asia-Pacific economies.
They endorsed Hong Kong's strategy of economic development. They agreed that Hong Kong should position itself as a regional service centre and continue to harness its competitive advantages while upgrading the value added in its services.
The Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, gave a presentation on Hong Kong's latest economic performance, the economic recovery after SARS and the opportunities brought about by the signing of CEPA between the Mainland and Hong Kong.
Mr Tung told the advisers that the Hong Kong economy was showing definite signs of recovery and the mood of the people had improved with the signing of CEPA.
"We have twice raised our estimate of the annual growth rate. The economy is now forecast to grow by around three per cent in real terms this year.
"These favourable changes reflect the market's high hopes for CEPA and its conviction that the Administration is heading in the right direction," he said.
The Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, gave an account of Hong Kong forging closer economic ties with the Pearl River Delta, one of the world's fastest growing manufacturing regions.
Mr Tung noted that Hong Kong had recently reached agreements with Guangdong and Shanghai respectively to forge closer links within the framework of CEPA.
"These two agreements are models for the sort of co-operation that leads to win-win development. In each case, we will look for ways to leverage on our respective strengths for the benefit of both parties," he said.
The Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr E K Yeoh, explained to the Council how Hong Kong had successfully overcome the SARS outbreak. He also briefed the advisers on measures taken to prepare the community for a possible resurgence of the disease.
The international advisers joining the meeting were the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Siemens AG, Dr Karl-Hermann Baumann; the Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings plc, Sir John Bond; the President and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Power Corporation of Canada, Mr Andre Desmarais; the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American International Group, Inc, Mr Maurice R Greenberg; the Group Managing Director of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies, Mr Rob Routs; the Senior Adviser of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Limited, Mr Tasuku Takagaki, and the former Chairman of Federal Reserve Bank of the United States of America, Mr Paul A Volcker.
Mr Tung welcomed Sir John Bond and Mr Rob Routs for joining the Council meeting for the first time. He thanked all of his advisers for sharing their expertise and extensive experience in multi-national business with Hong Kong.
The Council was established in 1998 to advise the Chief Executive from an international perspective on strategic issues pertinent to the long-term development of Hong Kong.
End/Thursday, November 6, 2003