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Speech by Customs Commissioner at Vinexpo 2007 (English only)

Following is the speech delivered by Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Timothy Tong, today (June 18) at the opening of Vinexpo 2007, which was held in Bordeaux, France:

President Chadronnier, your excellence Madam (Minister) Christine Lagarde, your excellence Mr (Mayor) Juppe, ladies and gentlemen

     I am greatly honoured to be invited to the Opening Ceremony of Vinexpo 2007.  Indeed, it is also my immense pleasure to be here.  Last week when I told my Government colleagues in Hong Kong that I would be in the beautiful city of Bordeaux today to attend a very important meeting about wine, they were all envious.  It is just too good to be true.  

     As you know, Hong Kong is a vibrant city where Oriental virtues have happy rendezvous with Western culture.  In Hong Kong, we do have an international presence ¡V notably a French presence.  This is evident in, among other things, designer fashion and perfumes for the ladies; cuisine for the gourmet; music and arts and bagget, the French bread, for everybody.  Incidentally, we even have French made helicopters for VIP visitors to fly in.  Therefore, it is no surprise that France is the number one supplier of wine to Hong Kong.  No surprise, either, that Hong Kong had the privilege to host the Vinexpo Asia-Pacific Region for a second time in 2006, eight years after the event first came to Hong Kong.

     Just as Bordeaux is the natural choice to stage the world¡¦s biggest wine exhibition, Hong Kong is the ideal location for the Asian version of this pleasant event.  Hong Kong is a world business centre with well-developed communication, transportation, logistics and warehousing infrastructures.  We are centrally located at the heart of Asia.  As observed in Vinexpo¡¦s studies, Asia registers significant growth as a wine market.  Growth in wine consumption in Mainland China is particularly remarkable, up from 3.55 million hectoliters in 2001 to 4.36 million hectoliters in 2005, and is expected to reach 5.89 million hectoliters by 2010.  Moreover, imported wines accounted for just 5.6 per cent of Mainland China¡¦s total consumption in 2005.  Hence, huge potential for international suppliers to explore this enormous market.  Hong Kong is precisely the gateway, ladies and gentlemen, for you to embark upon your explorations.

     Let me report to you some interesting developments about wine promotion in Hong Kong :

     First, Hong Kong¡¦s re-export of wines to other Asian countries (i.e. excluding Mainland China) surged by 120 per cent from 1.3 million litres in 2005 to 2.9 million litres in 2006;

     Second, Hong Kong¡¦s re-export of wines to Mainland China also surged, miraculously also by 120 per cent, from 2.66 million litres in 2005 to 5.89 million litres in 2006;

     Third, on 28 February 2007, Hong Kong halved the duty on all wines consumed locally, from 80 per cent ad valorem to 40 per cent ad valorem.  Provisional figures in May 2007 alone show that some 30 per cent more wines than same time last year are now being sold in Hong Kong ¡V and finer wines too.

     Today, I am delighted to join the international wine community to witness the launch of Vinexpo 2007.  I dearly wish this celebrated event every success.  In closing, I must also congratulate you, Mr Chadronnier, for having decided to bring Vinexpo Asia-Pacific back to Hong Kong again in 2008.  Your decision should enter into the Guinness Book of World Records, for you are making Hong Kong the only city outside France for Vinexpo to be held three times!  Hong Kong Customs stands ready to assist, including, of course, granting duty exemption ¡V without limit ¡V for all wines and all other alcoholic beverages tasted at the Asia Vinexpo.  Should you require further assistance, you know where we are!  

     Thank you.

Ends/Monday, June 18, 2007
Issued at HKT 21:10


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