Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, at the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2004 this morning (September 1) (English only):
Tommy , Fred, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to officiate at the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2004.
Since its inception in 1982, the fair has established itself as the largest of its kind in Asia. This is one of the Trade Development Council's premier annual promotional events for the Hong Kong watch and clock industry, and it has made significant contributions to the remarkable growth of the industry over the past decades.
As you all know, Hong Kong is a leading exporter of watches and clocks in the world. Last year, Hong Kong exported some US$5.4 billion worth of watches and clocks. This represents a solid 9% year-on-year growth, but the industry's contribution to our economy is not just restricted to its export earnings. It also helps to promote Hong Kong's image of quality and reliability, the very features of our watch and clock products.
I am impressed with the great variety of products on display today. This reflects the strength of our watch and clock industry in responding to the ever-changing market needs and in staying competitive. Exploration of new markets and injection of new blood are very important for the development of this industry. I would like to congratulate the Trade Development Council, the Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association and the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades and Industries on their spectacular achievements.
Watches and clocks are among the many products eligible for zero tariff under CEPA since its implementation in January this year. We have taken into account the watch and clock industry's views in formulating the CEPA rules of origin, but industry representatives have indicated to us that it would be difficult for the industry to benefit from the current arrangements. They have proposed to modify the rules somewhat to enable more local manufacturers to benefit from CEPA and to support their efforts in promoting Hong Kong brand name products, particularly those belonging to the higher end. We are well aware of these concerns, but we need to find the proper balance between incentives to entice the setting up of manufacturing operations here in Hong Kong and safeguards to protect the interests of our workers. We are actually discussing these issues with the relevant Mainland authorities with the hope that we would be able to arrive at some mutually acceptable arrangement very soon.
In closing, I wish you all an enjoyable and successful fair in Hong Kong. Thank you.
Ends/Wednesday, September 1, 2004