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DGTI's speech at opening ceremony of South African National Expo (English Only)

     Following is the speech by Director-General of Trade and Industry, Mr Joseph Lai, at the opening ceremony of the South African National Expo today (October 2):

Deputy Minister, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     I am delighted to be with you here this morning at the opening of the South African National Expo in Hong Kong.

     I recognise that this event, together with other exhibitions and investment seminars due to take place in Beijing and Shanghai, marks the 10th anniversary of diplomatic relations being established between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa.

     The past decade has seen tremendous changes in both China and South Africa, with rapid economic growth pointing the way towards a brighter future for our people. Despite the current financial difficulties that are affecting investment world-wide, I am sure that as large countries with young populations and abundant natural resources, China and South Africa will continue to grow and to prosper.    

     Hong Kong is keen to play a key role in facilitating growth in trade both with South Africa, and also between South Africa and Mainland China as a whole. In this context it is worth noting that while direct Hong Kong-South Africa trade has reached more than US$1.3 billion annually, a further US$1 billion worth of trade annually between South Africa and Mainland China is routed through Hong Kong.

     I am sure that you share my hope that we can increase the growth in trade between our economies for the benefit of our people. In this regard, events such as the South African National Expo are an important part of the push for more trade - and no less important, they help to build lasting friendship between us. I would also encourage South African enterprises to make more and better use of Hong Kong as a platform to access the Mainland China markets. Our physical proximity with the Mainland, our first-class infrastructure and our position as a leading trade and financial centre, all these make us an ideal partner with South Africa.

     I wish to congratulate the organisers on the successful launching of the expo, and I look forward to the development of ever stronger ties between Hong Kong and South Africa.

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, October 2, 2008
Issued at HKT 12:40


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