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Speech by SEDL at HKSAR/Kenya Air Services Agreement signing ceremony

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Following is the speech by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Stephen Ip, at the signing ceremony of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)/the Republic of Kenya Air Services Agreement in Hong Kong today (May 21) (English only):

Minister Michuki, Dr Tam, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for being here at the signing ceremony of the Air Services Agreement between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Kenya. I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Minister Michuki and his delegation, who have travelled a long way to be here for this signing ceremony.

The Air Services Agreement we are going to sign is an important milestone in Hong Kong's bilateral relationship with Kenya. It will be the first formal bilateral agreement to be signed between Hong Kong and Kenya. The agreement will provide a legal framework for the establishment of air links between Hong Kong and Kenya and open a new chapter in the development of air services between the two economies.

I am glad to note that since last September, local people and overseas tourists have been able to enjoy the good services of Kenya Airways, which has become one of the 70 international airlines operating at the Hong Kong International Airport, serving Hong Kong and Nairobi with three direct services every week.

Thanks to the good services of Kenya Airways, our bilateral trade in 2003 rose by 22% over the previous year and the number of Kenya visitors increased by 42% during the same period. The figures for 2004 so far are showing even stronger growth. The very solid foundation laid by Kenya Airways augurs well for the future expansion of air services between the two places.

The Air Services Agreement we sign today is Hong Kong's 52nd Air Services Agreement with our aviation partners. We are determined to enhance Hong Kong's status as an international and regional aviation hub and we will continue to expand our air services network in line with our progressive liberalisation policy.

I hope the conclusion of the bilateral Air Services Agreement today will lead to closer ties between the economy and the people of Hong Kong and Kenya.

Ends/Friday, May 21, 2004

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