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Speech by SCIT at Certificate of Appreciation Presentation Ceremony (English only)

    Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Hong Kong Ministerial Conference Certificate of Appreciation Presentation Ceremony today (November 29):

Ladies and Gentlemen,

     Good afternoon.  

     It gives me great pleasure to be here today to pay due recognition to members of the extended Hong Kong family for the unstinting support you have generously provided us in making the organisation of the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Conference a less daunting task than what we had expected.

     I was deeply moved to note that we had received some HK$55 million in sponsorship, both in cash as well as in kind, in the form of services and supplies, from some 30 corporations in various sectors.  This is not just because of the encouraging monetary value that we were able to achieve.  What touches me the most is the unfailing support and unity of our business community.  It demonstrates clearly that our business leaders care for what we do in Hong Kong.  You take social responsibility seriously.  And you keep to your share of the partnership in contributing to the betterment of our society.  I know we can count on you.  

     Recently, many people have been asking me about Hong Kong's role in the World Trade Organization, and why Hong Kong had offered to host the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference.  You may have been asked similar questions.  So, let me take a moment to explain.  

     Hosting the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Conference demonstrates, in a tangible manner, our commitment and contribution to the WTO as a full and separate member underlining the successful implementation of the concept of "One Country, Two Systems".  It also demonstrates the full autonomy Hong Kong enjoys in trade and economic matters provided under the Basic Law, and helps to reinforce our image and profile as a bastion of free trade.  

     On a wider front, it raises Hong Kong's international profile, and provides an excellent opportunity for us to showcase Hong Kong as "Asia's World City" through extensive coverage by the international media of the ministerial conference in specific and Hong Kong in general.  It also serves as a strong vote of confidence by the international community in the competence of Hong Kong.  

     A total of some 280 delegations from the 148 member economies and other aspiring economies together with numerous international organisations will be sending to Hong Kong some 11,000 conference representatives, from ministers to officials responsible for a range of issues as well as representatives of media organisations to those of non-government organisations.  The conference will showcase the infrastructure and ability of Hong Kong to organise and support large-scale international gatherings, with the hope of attracting to Hong Kong even more events and gatherings as well as other business opportunities in future.

     We are taking an active role in this round of trade negotiations, particularly those in the services sector.  Our objectives are simple.  We are aiming to safeguard the overall economic interest of Hong Kong and to secure the best possible market access for Hong Kong suppliers, as well as to provide the best possible environment for Hong Kong to attract foreign investment.  As you well know, improved market access around the world will be conducive to our further economic growth and local employment.  The Government has always been single minded in formulating our strategy for the WTO negotiations to ensure that we maintain the best possible interest of our workforce and our economy in mind.

     Ladies and Gentlemen, I must admit that the co-ordination and organisation of the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Conference, possibly the largest global event to take place in Hong Kong in recent years, is not an easy task.  It involves a lot of resources, manpower, effort, time and energy to make it possible.  The government cannot do it alone.  It requires the support of the entire community.  This conference is not just a government function.  It is our function.  And that is why it is particularly gratifying for me to see that our business and services leaders, like your good selves, are actively involved in the making of the conference, and are ready to lend a helping hand when Hong Kong needs you.  

     So on behalf of the Hong Kong Government and the people of Hong Kong, may I extend to you all a big "THANK YOU".  

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Issued at HKT 19:15


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