Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, at the Plenary Session led by the Minister of International Trade, Canada today (January 24): (English only)
Minister Peterson, Mr Eldon, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is, indeed, my great pleasure to be here this morning meeting with this impressive gathering of prominent and successful Canadian business leaders. I know you have had an extremely useful visit to the Mainland, and I hope that you would have an even more constructive and enjoyable time here in Hong Kong.
Later this morning you will hear more about the role that Hong Kong plays as the premier gateway to the ever expanding Mainland market for Canadian business. For now, I would like to set the scene for you.
Hong Kong possesses huge advantages as the fast track to the Mainland with its booming economy and burgeoning domestic market. Hong Kong businessmen were the first ones who did business with the Mainland since its opening up in the late seventies. Our natural affinity with the culture and language has been a key factor. But over the years, we have also accumulated an unrivalled wealth of experience working with different sectors of the Mainland, from different levels of government to different make ups of business. Nobody knows more about doing business in China than we do.
Hong Kong and Canada also have a long history of working together. We have close trade, cultural and social ties. Many in our work force have been educated in Canada. Many more of us have relatives and friends living in Canada. Hong Kong is exceptionally well placed to bring Mainland and Canadian businesses together. We are capable of providing a host of useful services from financing to supply chain management to provision of quality professional, management and other support services. Our unique bridging role is built on what we believe and what we practise here in Hong Kong, namely the rule of law, free market, level playing field, low and simple taxation, and clean and efficient government. This is why over 3,600 overseas companies, many of which coming from Canada, have chosen to set up regional operations in Hong Kong.
And I need not stress more that there is also CEPA, our unique free-trade arrangement with the Mainland, which enables multi-national companies to use Hong Kong to gain faster and greater access to the Mainland market. The best way is to either set up here in Hong Kong, or partner with a Hong Kong company, or even acquire a company in Hong Kong. While CEPA is designed to benefit the service suppliers of Hong Kong and the Mainland, locally incorporated overseas companies, which satisfy the Hong Kong service supplier criteria, can enjoy the same benefits as their Hong Kong counterparts.
Indeed, we have a government department called Invest Hong Kong which assists companies to set up their business here. I understand they have prepared a pack of information outlining the free and confidential services that they provide in facilitating a company's investment decision making. Representatives of Invest Hong Kong will be present at various sessions in today's programme, including the networking events at lunchtime and this evening, and they would be delighted to work with you here, or through their Canadian representative in Toronto.
All in all, my message to you this morning is a simple one. Hong Kong is the world's freest economy, perched on China's doorstep and offering numerous advantages for Canadian companies seeking to do business there. And together with organisations like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Trade Commission and our own Trade Development Council, we have a formidable and dedicated team to match you up with local companies that could help maximise your business potential. I hope you would make good use of this golden opportunity.
Ends/Monday, January 24, 2005