CS' speech at joint opening ceremony of fashion fairs (English only) (with photos)

Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Rafael Hui, at the joint opening ceremony of the HK Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2006 and World Boutique, Hong Kong 2006 at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this morning (January 17):

Andrew (Leung), Fred (Lam), Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

     It is my great pleasure to be here to officiate at the Joint Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2006 and the World Boutique, Hong Kong 2006.  On behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all exhibitors, buyers and visitors to these premier international fashion fairs.  

     Ever since Paul Poiret, the greatest couturier of the 20th century, staged the first fashion show in Paris in the early 1900s, fashion shows and trade fairs have become important occasions where fashion designers and buyers get together for business, market intelligence and inspiration.  Large scale trade shows have since then been organised by, and in, all major fashion centres of the world, and become the hallmark of an international fashion centre.  Hong Kong is no exception.  Our first fashion show dates back to the early 1970s.  And our fashion shows have grown in stature as Hong Kong develops into a regional textiles and garment centre.

     The textile and garment industry has been contributing significantly to the economy of Hong Kong.  This sector employed about 43 000 people in 2004 with aggregate value of domestic exports amounting to $69 billion, or 55% of our total domestic exports.

     Hong Kong is not only one of the world's largest exporters of clothing and clothing accessories, but also the fashion hub of Asia.  Over the past few decades, Hong Kong has evolved from a low-cost apparel supplier into a renowned production, sourcing and servicing centre of quality garments and high-end fashion.  This transformation reflects the great strides that Hong Kong's fashion industry has made - from simple OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to ODM (Original Design Manufacturer), and now on the road to OBM (Original Brand Manufacturer).

     The credit must go to our designers.  We are seeing more and more young and talented home grown designers emerging, bringing new and exciting design concepts to the local fashion market.  Over the years, many young Hong Kong designers have become important players in both the local and international markets.  During the Hong Kong Fashion Week, you will have the opportunity to see some of their latest creations.  

     As part of our efforts to position Hong Kong as a world-class design and fashion centre, in June last year the Government launched the DesignSmart initiative.  Under this initiative, an InnoCentre has been developed under the collaboration of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and the Hong Kong Design Centre.  The InnoCentre will provide one-stop services to help promote different forms of design, strengthen human resources development, and boost Hong Kong's profile as an innovative and creative hub.  We will continue to work closely with the trade to facilitate the development of Hong Kong's fashion industry, and ensure that it remains competitive.

     The abolition of textiles quota early last year has met with various safeguard measures imposed on products from the Mainland.  Although such changes in the business environment have created limitations to our clothing sector, it is perhaps also a timely call on the need to move up the value chain.  The challenge is how best to leverage on this opportunity through maximising Hong Kong's advantages, including our entrepreneurship, creativity, versatility, and excellent hard and soft infrastructure.  Over the years, practitioners in our clothing sector have made their mark in the global market by rising to meet challenges of one kind or another.  I have no doubt that you will continue to do so and scale new heights in the years to come.

     Finally, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and all local and overseas exhibitors for their efforts in putting together this very important event.  I would also like to wish you all an enjoyable and productive Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2006 and every success for the World Boutique, Hong Kong 2006.  Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Issued at HKT 10:50