Following is the speech (English only) by the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, at the opening of the Asia-Pacific Regional Office of the London Stock Exchange at the Two International Finance Centre this (October 25) afternoon:
Lord Mayor, Mr Gibson-Smith, Ms Zhu, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to be here today to celebrate the opening of the London Stock Exchange (LSE)'s Asia-Pacific Regional Office.
Starting life in the coffee houses of the 17th century London, the LSE is the world's oldest stock exchange. Built on more than 200 years of expertise and market knowledge, the LSE is now home to more than 2,700 companies from over 55 countries. It is also a premier source of equity market liquidity, benchmark prices and market data in the European time zone.
LSE's strategy has always been to compete globally in the market for financial transaction services, and has successfully become the market of choice. As far as I am aware, the LSE has made at least two strategic moves this year: first, moving its office to a modern and outward-looking building in Paternoster Square which provides a better working environment and allows better interaction with customers; second, establishing LSE's first Asia-Pacific Regional Office in Hong Kong, and I believe this will give you an equally vibrant business environment.
Hong Kong's advantages are many and well-known: the world's freest economy; rule of law; a level-playing field; a clean government; free flow of information; a low and simple tax regime; and world class infrastructure. By selecting Hong Kong as its base for business development in the Asia-Pacific region, the LSE has indeed given us a vote of confidence in our strong economic fundamentals and our position as "Asia's World City".
Hong Kong people always take pride in the fact that we have a strong and committed international business presence here. This is illustrated by the number of regional headquarters and regional offices established by overseas businesses in Hong Kong, which reached an all-time high this year. As at June 1, there were over 1,000 regional headquarters and 2,500 regional offices in Hong Kong. Apart from being a cosmopolitan city, we have one added and unique advantage - our proximity, cultural ties and business connection to the Mainland of China, which offers abundant business opportunities. We have positioned ourselves as the strategic two-way platform linking the Mainland with the rest of the world.
Just take the financial services sector as an example. Hong Kong is Asia's second biggest financial market, and its most international one. We have also established our market as the premier capital formation centre for the Mainland, with over 280 listings of Mainland companies on our stock exchange. This has enabled our financial professionals to accumulate wealth of experience in raising funds to support the tremendous growth of Mainland enterprises.
We are determined to further enhance our role as a leading international financial centre in the region. We have not lost sight of the competitive forces unleashed by the increasing globalisation of the world economy, and will continue our efforts in promoting a fair, efficient and quality financial market. I believe LSE's presence in Hong Kong will reaffirm our leading position as the international financial centre in Asia.
Let me extend my warmest congratulations to the LSE and your staff on this wonderful occasion. I wish you every success in the years to come.
Ends/Monday, October 25, 2004