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CS's speech at HK Exporters' Association Christmas Luncheon (English only) (with photos)

    Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Rafael Hui, at the Hong Kong Exporters' Association Christmas Luncheon this afternoon (December 9):

"Hong Kong - A Champion of Free Trade"

Tom, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It is my great pleasure to share the joy of the season with you today.  Let me first congratulate Tom's election as the Chairman of the Hong Kong Exporters' Association.  The Association celebrated its 50th anniversary in May this year.  I am sure you can all look back with great pride the achievements the Association has made in the past five decades.

     Hong Kong is endowed with an enviable geographical location in the Asia Pacific region.  Despite our small size, we are the world's 11th largest trading entity in goods.  Our total exports amounted to over $2,000 billion in 2004, representing an increase of 16% over 2003.  For the first nine months this year, our total exports already reached almost $1,700 billion.  Our total trade is actually more than three times our GDP.  The Hong Kong Exporters' Association has been playing a significant role in making this possible.  You have done an exemplary job in promoting Hong Kong's trade over the years.

     Hong Kong has indeed thrived and prospered through free trade.  The importance of a global environment governed by predictable trade rules cannot be over-emphasised.  Protectionism, as economists have amply explained, will only do harm to those who initiate and those who are at the receiving end of protectionist measures.  It is therefore imperative that we should work hard to enhance and strengthen the multilateral trading system enshrined in the World Trade Organization, or WTO in short.

     Hong Kong is hosting the sixth Ministerial Conference of the WTO next week.  There are very good reasons that we should be doing so, in line with our very active and constructive role in the WTO.  The Hong Kong Ministerial Conference is a global event that puts Hong Kong squarely in the international limelight.  It is a testimony to the world Hong Kong's professionalism, efficiency and hospitability.  It will highlight the 'guts' of what makes Hong Kong tick and our success as Asia's world city: a free, open, tolerant and outward-looking society as well as a responsible international player.

     Domestically, we have launched various initiatives to enhance our community's understanding of the WTO and enlist public support for the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference.  We have been explaining to the public, through a wide variety of channels and activities, what the WTO is about, the progress of the ongoing negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda, the objectives of the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference, and most important of all, the contribution of free trade to global economic development.

     In addition, we have briefed relevant organisations on the special security and transport arrangements in the vicinity of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre during the Conference period.  For example, we have kept the relevant District Councils in the picture and have listened to the views of DC Members.  We have also conducted a large number of briefings to explain directly to the public the possible impact on them and to give adequate advance information to the private sector.  You would no doubt appreciate that the Ministerial Conference is a large-scale international event whose success relies not only on the efforts of Government bureaux and departments, but also the support, understanding and co-operation of all of you and our community at large.  In the run-up to the Ministerial Conference, we shall continue to step up publicity to keep the public abreast of the security and transport arrangements in order to minimise the inconvenience caused to them.

     Some people of our community have queried why Hong Kong should suffer the inconvenience and pay for the direct and indirect costs in hosting MC6.  To members of the Exporters' Association, the answer of course is obvious.  But to those who have doubts, my answer is as follows.  Being a world-class international city is not a matter of vanity, nor can it be taken for granted.  It is part and parcel of our continued prosperity.  For Hong Kong to sustain our world-class position, we need to continuously show to the world that we have what it takes to be an international city and hence, hosting MC6, and hosting it successfully is both natural and necessary.

     Ladies and gentlemen, I don't want to speak for too long on this festive season.  So before I finish, just let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

     Thank you.

Ends/Friday, December 9, 2005
Issued at HKT 15:01


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