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Speech by Director-General of Trade and Industry (English only)

    Following is the speech by the Director-General of Trade and Industry, Mr Raymond Young at the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency Symposium 2005 today (December 5):

Dr Ng, ladies and gentlemen,

     It is my great pleasure to join all of you here at this symposium organised by the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency.  
     Established in 1989, HKQAA has made great strides over the years to promote the concept of quality products and services in Hong Kong. It was among the first organisations in Hong Kong to promote various international quality standards and the adoption of these standards is now widely recognised as a benchmark of business excellence. I take this opportunity to congratulate HKQAA for a job well done, and I also commend it for organising, for the fifth year now, a symposium which focuses the minds of our business people on new ways of enhancing the quality of management in their companies, and which provides an opportunity for successful experiences and practices to be shared and propagated in the business community of Hong Kong.

     Keeping an edge in a business environment which is fast changing and increasingly globalised is a very challenging task. In the face of intense regional and international competition, a quality culture is more than just a nice thing for a company to have, but a question of life and death for a lot of small and medium sized enterprises. Hong Kong is now a player in the first league on many fronts. We rank among the world's best economies in terms of business infrastructure, competitiveness, economic openness, export performance and global connectivity, and I could go on naming a few more. But the question we need to ask ourselves is, are our businesses, and Hong Kong Inc. as a whole, comparable to the best in the world? If so, and perhaps more importantly, what are the specific qualities that enable our businesses to remain in a leading position? If our businesses are not benchmarked against the best in the world, and this is a more serious question, then where and what are the gaps that are keeping us back? These are questions that perhaps each and every Hong Kong enterprise should ask itself everyday, whatever its size, and however successful it may already be.

     Businesses in Hong Kong have enjoyed in the past a headstart over their counterparts on the Mainland in terms of exposure to state of the art management practices, corporate governance and international perspectives. While China's entry into the WTO and the increasing openness of the Mainland economy have generated tremendous opportunities for HK enterprises, we now see the emergence of a cohort of highly driven and competitive Mainland companies, and it would be dangerous for HK companies to remain complacent if they want to stay ahead in the game. In fact, in many areas of corporate governance, HK companies may not have any headstart at all. Managers nowadays have to handle issues which perhaps only a generation ago were not issues at all. For instance green management, environmental friendliness and corporate social responsibility. Like people, an enterprise needs to engage in a life-long education and acquire new skills as it grows. The day it stops learning will mark the beginning of the end of that enterprise.

     I shall not let the moment pass without mentioning something which is very dear to my heart at the moment, and that is the WTO Ministerial Conference which will be taking place here in HK in a week's time. I do expect that business people like yourselves would appreciate the importance of free trade and I would not repeat what it means for Hong Kong to be hosting this Conference. Suffice for me to say here that the value of Hong Kong's total trade with the world is three times of our GDP, and this volume of trade is taking place where there are still a lot of barriers in the flow of services and goods in the form of tariffs and market access restrictions.  The objective of the current round of WTO trade negotiations is to dismantle such trade barriers as much as possible and if it succeeds, the volume of world trade will increase significantly and the economic benefits, will be tremendous, particularly for free trading economies like Hong Kong.

     Ladies and gentlemen, I understand the symposium today covers a wide spectrum of management issues that would be of interest to modern day managers and professionals.  We will be hearing expert views on how to do business better, through creativity and innovation, and sustain long term development.  There will also be discussions on the "green" trend, and how an enterprise can sharpen its corporate governance and discharge its social responsibility. The programme looks very attractive and I am sure all of you would find it interesting as well as useful.  I wish you all an enlightening and fruitful day.  

     Thank you.

Ends/Monday, December 5, 2005
Issued at HKT 12:15


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