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SCED's speech at a lunch after the signing of Hong Kong-Australia MOU on Co-operation in Wine-related Businesses (English only)(with photo)

     Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, at a lunch hosted by Austrade (the Australian Trade Commission) and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council after the signing of the Hong Kong-Australia Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Wine-related Businesses today (April 16):

Minister Burke, Ladies and Gentlemen,

     Good afternoon - or perhaps I should say "Good day".

     It is a pleasure to join you all for lunch.  This is a great way to celebrate the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Hong Kong and Australia on wine-related businesses.

     I would like to thank Minister Burke again for making the trip to Hong Kong for this morning's signing ceremony.

     I also look forward to greater bilateral co-operation, not only on wine and food but also on a wide range of economic activities.

Promotional Efforts on Wine

     Let me begin with a few words about the wine industry and Hong Kongˇ¦s role as a wine hub in Asia.  Our region, and particularly Mainland China has a growing appetite for quality wine.  Lifestyle changes, increasing prosperity and economic growth are behind the changing tastes.

     Hong Kong is uniquely placed to play an important part in tapping this growth trend.  We have the infrastructure, the expertise and the desire and determination to be Asiaˇ¦s wine trading and distribution hub.

     Since eliminating duties on wine in February last year, we have been working hard to attract wine-related companies to set up or expand their base in Hong Kong as well as to promote wine-related investment and tourism.

     The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (or TDC), Invest Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Tourism Board are synchronising their promotional strategy and efforts to achieve maximum impact.  We welcome closer co-operation with the Australian Government, particularly the Australian Trade Commission (or Austrade), in this area.

Wine Fair

     Last year, the TDC launched our first "home-grown" international wine exhibition - the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair.  It was a great success.  About 240 exhibitors from 25 countries and regions took part.  Of the almost 9,000 trade buyers who joined the fair, 17% were from the Mainland.

     Australia had the largest number of exhibitors at the fair.  We look forward to another strong showing from Australia at this yearˇ¦s fair in November.

Wine-related Investment

     Zero wine duty, a simple regulatory regime for wines, and other strong fundamentals including a sound financial system, strong connectivity and the rule of law, make us an ideal place for Australian companies to set up or expand their base.

Wine-related Tourism

     Minister Burke has highlighted the importance of Australian food to Hong Kong.  The timing of his comments could hardly be better.  In addition to the MOU signed this morning, the Hong Kong Tourism Board will also launch the "Hong Kong Food and Wine Year" this afternoon.  It is their 2009 theme for tourism programmes in Hong Kong.  This will highlight Hong Kongˇ¦s attractiveness as a place for fine wine and fine dining.

     An anchor event would be the exciting two-week "Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival" from end October to early November.  This will include a three-day outdoor wine carnival along the West Kowloon harbourfront.  Visitors will be able to sample fine Australian vintages against the backdrop of our famous skyline.

     Our representatives from the TDC, Invest Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Tourism Board here today will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the three areas.


     Last but not least, I am confident our new MOU on wine will help reinforce a trend that has seen our communities grow ever closer as ties between Hong Kong and Australia strengthen and mature over the years.

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, April 16, 2009
Issued at HKT 16:05


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