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CE's speech at reception for Hong Kong businessmen and Australian interlocutors in Sydney (English only) (with photo)

    Following is a speech by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at a reception hosted by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Frederick Ma, for Hong Kong businessmen and prominent interlocutors in Sydney, Australia today (September 6, Sydney time) (English only):

     Thank you very much Fred for introducing the Mainland and hosting this particular party to enable us to see the friends of Hong Kong.

     Impressively, I feel it is great to be back in Sydney.  I am very much looking forward to the next few days of meetings, particularly meetings with the world's national leaders who I've known, I wish to update during the leaders meeting of APEC.

     Your presence here, obviously, is a vote of confidence in Hong Kong, and our positive prospects 10 years after Reunification with China.

     You probably know that our economy is doing very well at the moment - it is in the best shape it's been for years.  We expect our GDP to grow between 5-6% this year - that is on the back of average growth of 7.7% since 2004.  So, it is sustained and fairly robust growth.

     Our stock market is doing exceptionally well, buoyed by new initiatives that allow Mainland investors to buy stocks listed in Hong Kong. Exports are still going strong.  Unemployment is edging down.  And, we are on track to welcome a record number of visitors this year to Hong Kong – more than 26 million of them.  So, the retail, catering, airline, exhibition sectors are all doing quite well as a consequence.

     The Mainland is continuing to open up and reform.  That process augurs well for Hong Kong because it increases the attraction of Hong Kong as a global financial centre while allowing us to play an important role in our country's development.

     On one hand, we continue to attract international companies looking for a base in Asia and access to the mainland market.  On the other hand, we provide a knowledge bank of experience and international best practice to Mainland companies upgrading their products and services for the domestic and global markets.

     Up till now, Hong Kong remains the largest investor in the mainland of China.  Our free-trade pact with the Mainland, what we call our Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA for short, is also expanding.  Companies incorporated in Hong Kong - and that includes Australian companies that have set up shop in Hong Kong - enjoy tariff-free access to the Mainland market for manufactures, and enhanced access in 27 services sectors.  From January 1 next year, another 11 services sectors will be added to the list.

     We are also working hard with provincial authorities in the Mainland to unleash the economic potential of the nine southern provinces of China plus the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau - what we call '9+2', the nine provinces plus Hong Kong and Macau, or the Pan-Pearl River Delta initiative.  What we are trying to do is to break down barriers to trade and investment within this economic caucus, which has a population of 470 million people.  International companies based in Hong Kong can leverage CEPA to make the most of the opportunities in this very important and groundbreaking initiative in a market about the same size as the EU or NAFTA - all in one country.  

     Ladies and gentlemen, Hong Kong has a strong relationship with Australia - a relationship we want to see grow and prosper in the years ahead.

     Our ties have been built on foundations similar to Australians - the common law, a free and vocal media, a level playing field for business, and clean government.

     In many ways we think alike, and that's why Hong Kong is the natural choice, a perfect partner, for Australian companies doing business in Asia.  If you are not already in Hong Kong, come on up and see us.

     I look forward to chatting with you a little later, and hearing your ideas on how we can deepen the links between our two communities.

     Finally, I would be remiss at this time if I did not wish the Wallabies the best of luck in the Rugby World Cup that kicks off tomorrow in France.  

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Thursday, September 6, 2007
Issued at HKT 17:55


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