Following is a speech by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology (Commerce and Industry), Miss Denise Yue, at the opening ceremony of "Source It" trade show today (March 23)(English only):
Mr Que, Ms Leung, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. It is my honour to be invited to officiate at the Opening Ceremony of "Source It". On behalf of the HKSAR Government, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you, in particular those who have come from overseas to attend this event. I would also like to thank the ASEAN Federation of Textiles Industries and Messe Frankfurt for holding this event in Hong Kong for the first time.
Over the past decade or so, Hong Kong has emerged as a premier trade fair capital and a popular city for international conferences in the Asia Pacific region. This success is owed to a large measure to Hong Kong's strategic position in this region. It offers ready access to the vast markets of the Mainland, Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea, with half of the world's population living within five hours' flying time. It is also just around the corner from the Pearl River Delta, the world's largest manufacturing basin. In other words, all trade fairs in Hong Kong are within easy reach of the entire region's buyers and exhibitors. Convenience and accessibility are two essential elements for a successful exhibition, and no doubt Hong Kong offers both.
For the convention and exhibition industry in Hong Kong, our policy is to facilitate its development by providing a first class infrastructure and a business-friendly environment. We know that with increasing demand, Hong Kong needs high quality exhibition facilities apart from those currently provided at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. We must stay ahead of the game if we are to maintain our position as the leading exhibition destination in the region. To this end, a new international exhibition centre, namely AsiaWorld-Expo, is being constructed at our Chek Lap Kok International Airport. AsiaWorld-Expo will provide 66,000 square metres net usable area when it is fully operational by early 2006. It will provide another significant venue for international and regional trade events. We welcome international trade fairs, like "Source It", to come to Hong Kong and make use of the facilities of our new exhibition centre.
Let me now turn to the textiles industry. Asia is the leading market for textiles exported from Hong Kong. It accounts for around 87% of Hong Kong's total exports of textiles. Of the top 10 destinations for textiles exported from Hong Kong, five are ASEAN countries.
Hong Kong is both a leading production centre and a global hub for the sourcing of textile and clothing. While many Hong Kong textile manufacturers and traders supply their products to clothing manufacturers in Asia, particularly on the Mainland, international textile companies also use Hong Kong as a gateway to promote their products to other Asian economies.
With the commencement of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) on January 1, 2004, a total of 108 Hong Kong-made textile items, subject to the CEPA's rules of origin, are already enjoying tariff-free access to the Mainland whereas textile imports from other places are still subject to tariffs ranging from 5% to 19.4%. It may therefore make business sense for overseas textiles and clothing manufacturers, particularly those focusing on high-end or brandname products, to conduct the origin-conferring manufacturing processes in Hong Kong and thereby enjoy the zero-tariff preference under CEPA when exporting to the Mainland. In addition, manufacturers based here will also have access to the whole range of sophisticated and world-class trade-related and professional services that Hong Kong can offer.
In closing, I have confidence that on the basis of their experience with this year's event, the organisers of "Source It" will find that they have indeed made the right decision to hold this year's event in Hong Kong and I earnestly look forward to welcoming you back again and again in the future.
Ends/Tuesday, March 23, 2004