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SCED's speech at Seminar on Engineering Projects Development in ASEAN Member Countries (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, at the opening ceremony of the Seminar on Engineering Projects Development in ASEAN Member Countries today (November 25):

Dr Ho, Mr CY Leung, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. I am delighted to be invited to join you today at the opening ceremony of the Seminar on Engineering Projects Development in ASEAN Member Countries. First of all, a very warm welcome to all our friends from around the region.

     ASEAN and its member countries are well known to Hong Kong.  It is an important trading partner of Hong Kong. Our bilateral merchandise trade grew at an annual average rate of some 11% between 2004 and 2008 and increased by 5% in 2008 alone. ASEAN was our third largest trading partner in 2008, after Mainland China and the European Union. ASEAN countries are also very popular tourist destinations for Hong Kong people.

     As we begin to come through the trauma of the global financial crisis, the hosting of today's seminar is inspirational and timely. That it is hosted by engineering professionals is even more fitting and thoughtful as we all search for the engine to restart our economic growth, in a sustainable and inclusive way. Engineers have certainly a key and prominent role to play.

     In Chinese, the word "crisis" is made of two words: danger and opportunity. The world economy almost without exception has suffered the "danger" of it, now it's the time for "opportunity". Governments alike have seized the opportunity not only to tide over the present difficulties but to invest in the future with stimulus packages comprising impressive public funding for both domestic and regional infrastructural development projects.

     These projects help to ensure seamless movement of people and goods, connect us wirelessly and across borders with sophisticated telecommunications networks for communications and doing business. And as we join in to address and tackle our mutual care and concern for climate change, environmental scientists and engineers will no doubt have an increasingly vital role to play.

     Hong Kong has a well developed services industry contributing some 92% of our Gross Domestic Product. The standards of our professional services, in particular, are ranked among the highest in the world. And our engineers have won numerous international awards, many of their engineering creations and innovative applications are iconic works of art. We know the technology. We know the business. And we know the market. We don't need to look very far. ASEAN countries endowed with rich national resources and added with our huge mother country, Mainland China, have enormous opportunities waiting to be tapped. Economists and financial analysts around the world are beginning to forecast that Asia's economic growth will outpace the rest of the world.

     Our professionals can contribute to the infrastructural development of ASEAN member countries and in turn their economic growth. Riding on the rapid economic growth and the liberalisation of market access on the Mainland, we in Hong Kong have been strengthening our ties in our pursuit of co-operation between the construction and related engineering industries of the two places. We will be embarking on two ambitious road and railway projects which will connect Hong Kong even more closely to the whole of Mainland China, thus realising the dreams of many, including myself, wishing to drive and ride all the way from Hong Kong to Guangxi, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, ultimately to Singapore. And I can go on.

     The exchanges and discussions at this seminar will no doubt offer fertile platforms for collaboration and inspiration for our engineering professionals to conceive new ideas and engineer new projects.

     I wish the seminar great success and all of you a fruitful and pleasurable stay in Hong Kong.

Ends/Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Issued at HKT 19:00


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