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Speech by SFST at the AIG Private Bank Hong Kong Branch Grand Opening (English only)

    Following is a speech by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Frederick Ma, at the AIG Private Bank Hong Kong Branch Grand Opening today (May 9):

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen,

     Allow me to begin by thanking Ed and his colleagues for inviting me to this memorable occasion which marks the official inauguration of AIG Private Bank・s Hong Kong Branch.  

     As the Secretary looking after Hong Kong・s financial sector developments, I feel particularly delighted tonight as this renowned private bank has chosen Hong Kong for establishing its first bank branch in the Asia Pacific region, which shows the bank・s continued confidence in and commitment to Hong Kong, and endorses our leading position as an international financial centre in the region.  I am convinced that our city, with all her strong fundamentals and promising potential, would provide a great business environment for the bank to further expand.

     In the past few years I have been encouraging many foreign financial institutions to establish or expand their operations in Hong Kong, which represents a win-win situation for both the institution and the city.  The AIG Private Bank・s strategic move to expand its presence in Hong Kong, not in any other cities in Asia, speaks louder than words that there are enormous opportunities and potential in the Hong Kong financial market that the institution could benefit from despite the already keen competition.  With world-class financial infrastructure and regulatory regime, the rule of law, free flow of capital and information, and deep and fully liberalized financial markets operating on a level playing field, Hong Kong・s fundamental strengths are incomparable in the region.  In respect of the asset management business in which the AIG Private Bank specialises, Hong Kong is definitely :the place; in Asia for capturing the growing opportunities in the region.  Last year we abolished the estate duty, which gives all foreign and local investors the peace of mind to invest in Hong Kong.  Earlier this year we passed another legislation to exempt offshore funds from profits tax, which gives another boost to the fund management industry.  The recently announced measures, commonly known as QDII, and other relaxation schemes including investment by the National Social Security Fund of the Mainland will allow more and more Mainland funds to come to the Hong Kong market and make use of Hong Kong financial institutions for asset management purposes.  Moreover, while the world eyes opportunities from the Mainland, the promising growth in Asia, which is predicted by the IMF to amount to 7% in 2006, deserves our equal attention.  A growth rate of 6.9% per annum by 2009 is expected of the financial wealth of Asian Pacific high net worth individuals.  All in all, the market for high quality financial services and products is large and growing in Hong Kong, and all it takes is to be competitive to benefit.

     With the AIG Private Bank joining the Hong Kong financial market in providing quality financial and banking services, customers in Hong Kong will no doubt benefit.  In fact, I believe we are fortunate to have with us a large number of similarly top  notch financial institutions doing the same.  The diversity of products and services offered and the presence of a critical mass have enriched our financial markets and helped position Hong Kong as a vibrant and growing international financial centre.  

     In closing, I congratulate the AIG Private Bank for embarking on a new phase of business here in Hong Kong where opportunities and resources are abundant, and wish the bank every success in its endeavours.  I also wish you all a most pleasant evening.  Thank you very much.

Ends/Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Issued at HKT 20:02