Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, at the Dutch Business Association Awards 2005 tonight (March 11): (English only)
Mr Jan Revis, Mr Hans Olijve, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to be here tonight at the inaugural DBA Business Award Presentation Ceremony.
With more than 200 companies and 4,000 residents in our city, the Dutch community has long been an important player in the Hong Kong economic scene. While some of these companies are here to serve the local market, many others have chosen Hong Kong as a strategic location to operate their business in Greater China and the Asia Pacific. Indeed, some 100 Dutch companies have either regional headquarters or regional offices here. With the relentless efforts of the Consulate General and the Dutch Business Association, the ties between Hong Kong and the Netherlands have become closer than ever.
This year, the Dutch Business Association has organised for the first time the DBA Business Award, with the laudable objective of recognising outstanding Dutch companies and business personalities whose entrepreneurial skills have made a lasting impact on the business environment in Hong Kong or Greater China. The Award comprises three categories: the Leading Edge Award, the Dutch Business Person of the Year Award and the Dutch Promoter Award.
I would like to pay tribute to the 25 candidates nominated for the Award and the 15 finalists who entered the final round of assessment. Given the very high quality of the nominations, the judging panel must have had a difficult task in selecting the winners.
My congratulations go to the three winners of the Award. You have distinguished yourselves as the best of the best with your entrepreneurship, business vision and endeavours for innovation. These are the major driving forces behind a full and open economy like Hong Kong.
The Government is committed to doing all we can to maintaining Hong Kong as the best place to do business. We offer superb infrastructure and a business setting that nurtures entrepreneurship, enables innovation and facilitates companies to prosper. We spare no efforts in upholding the rule of law, the protection of intellectual property rights, a corruption-free government and the free flow of information.
The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), the first free trade agreement for Hong Kong, has also transformed Hong Kong into a potential centre for value-added manufacturing and high-quality services for the vast Mainland market. Being nationality blind, the CEPA opens a new avenue for overseas companies using Hong Kong as their springboard to expand into the Mainland. With the implementation of phase two of CEPA on January 1, 2005, over 1,000 Hong Kong products are enjoying zero tariffs and 26 service sectors have been given preferential access to the Mainland market. CEPA benefits not only local companies, but also the many Dutch firms in Hong Kong. I strongly encourage our Dutch friends to take advantage of the solid economic recovery here and the vast opportunities offered by our closer economic integration with the Mainland. With these exciting prospects ahead, it is an ideal time to consider expanding further your business presence in Hong Kong.
I look forward to hearing the results of the DBA Business Award in a few minutes. May I congratulate all the candidates and winners again for their participation and the Dutch Business Association for organising the event successfully. Thank you.
Ends/Friday, March 11, 2005