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STH's speech at opening ceremony of the newly expanded DHL Central Asia Hub (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at opening ceremony of the newly expanded DHL Central Asia Hub today (September 8):

Mr (Dan) McHugh, Mr (Jerry) Hsu, Mr (Stanley) Hui, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

     It is my great pleasure to be here today to celebrate the official launch of the newly expanded DHL Central Asia Hub.

     Our strategic partnership with DHL began in October 2002, when the Airport Authority and DHL entered into a franchise agreement for the development, construction and operation of the Central Asia Hub, a dedicated Express Cargo Terminal at the Hong Kong International Airport.  In response to strong growth and increasing throughput volume, the company decided to double the size of the facility in October 2005, six years ahead of the company's business plan.  This is now the largest express cargo hub facility of its kind in the Asia Pacific region.  DHL's continuous investment in Hong Kong clearly demonstrates the companyˇ¦s confidence in us as the premier aviation and logistics hub in the region.

     Of course a company needs a good business plan to succeed in the express cargo business.  We know this is DHL's forte.  But apart from a good business plan, success also hinges on three factors ˇV strategic location, excellent connectivity and software that really works.  I believe these factors have also come into the equation when DHL decided to set up this facility here in Hong Kong, so let me explain why Hong Kong excels in these respects.

     Hong Kong offers a strategic location when it comes to pursuing a long-term Asian growth strategy.  We are at the heart of East and Southeast Asia, and right at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta.  For all the major cities in Asia Pacific, the average flying time is four hours.

     Our airport provides excellent connectivity, with air services to 156 destinations including 40 on the Mainland which adds up to more than 5,700 flights per week.  For the past 12 years we have been the worldˇ¦s busiest international air cargo hub.  We are committed to a progressive liberalisation policy and expect our connectivity to be further enhanced in the near future.  Apart from air services, our airport is well connected to the Pearl River Delta region by efficient marine as well as land transport services.

     Hong Kong also provides unbeatable software.  We pride ourselves on a tried and trusted legal system underpinned by an independent judiciary.  The Government is clean, efficient and open, fully committed to maintaining a level playing field for business.  And business enjoys low taxes and the free and unfettered flow of information, and thrives in a pro-business environment.  Super efficient companies like DHL, most of all, need a super efficient customs regime which is user-friendly, transparent and predictable.

     Like DHL, we are also working hard to enhance our strategic infrastructure.  We are going ahead full steam with the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project, which will connect Hong Kong, Macao and the Western Pearl River Delta region.  Construction of the bridge will start no later than 2010.

     On the airport itself, we have plans to increase the runway capacity, from 58 movements per hour next year to 68 movements per hour by 2015.  This is, of course, not the end game.  The runway capacity could be substantially increased to over 100 movements per hour with the addition of a third runway.  Engineering and environmental feasibility studies are under way for this important infrastructure development.

     The private sector contributes significantly to the development of our airport as well as our position as an aviation hub.  We treasure our strategic partnership with DHL, and I would like to once again congratulate the company on the opening of the expanded facility.  We look forward to the companyˇ¦s continued support as we forge ahead with various projects that will enhance our competitive edge.

     Lastly let us all wish DHL every success for its Central Asia Hub.

     Thank you.

Ends/Monday, September 8, 2008
Issued at HKT 17:32


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