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Speech by CE at gala dinner at Moderna Museet in Stockholm (English only)(with photos)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the gala dinner at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, today (May 12, Stockholm time):

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     God afton ("good evening" in Swedish).

     It is my great pleasure to be here in this spectacularly beautiful and magnificent city of Stockholm. Looking at the view outside, I have to say if I lose my concentration, and therefore miss a line or two, do forgive me.

     This is my first official visit to Sweden and I thank you all for your very warm welcome.  The Modern Museum of Art provides an inspirational location for us to explore ways to develop stronger links between our two places, especially our creative and cultural links.

     Since arriving in Sweden yesterday, I have marvelled at your country・s unique architecture, pristine environment and generous hospitality.

     Earlier today I had the opportunity to meet with some of Sweden・s top government officials, business leaders and innovators.  The enthusiasm for strong relations between Sweden and Hong Kong is very encouraging.

     A major focus of my visit to Sweden is to learn more about the development of innovation, creative and technology industries in Sweden and the opportunity for further collaboration with Hong Kong.  These are among the priority issues on my Government・s agenda.  Sweden has achieved a competitive advantage in these sectors.  In Hong Kong, innovation and technology as well as creative industries hold strong potential to drive our city・s economic and social development.

     Closer co-operation between us can achieve a win-win for both Sweden and Hong Kong.

     Allow me to discuss three main areas of mutual interest.  First, Hong Kong provides a vibrant gateway for Swedish design and innovation to reach vast markets in the Mainland of China and across Asia.  Second, we have well-developed technology infrastructure to support advanced research and innovation.  And, third, Hong Kong is a free and open economy that welcomes people and ideas from all corners of the globe, including obviously Sweden.

     First, Hong Kong・s role as a gateway to Asia for Swedish design and innovation.

     Hong Kong has a population of just over 7 million people.  In terms of landmass, Sweden is 400 times the size of Hong Kong.  Yet, last year, we received over 50 million visitors, more than half of whom were from the Mainland of China.  Many of our visitors come to experience Hong Kong・s shopping paradise laced with leading international brands and the added value of a trusted :sold in Hong Kong; receipt.

     Hong Kong provides an excellent showcase for Swedish brands and designs to catch the eye of our residents and our visitors.  Swedish telecommunications, fashion, furniture, auto products, home appliances and much more are highly competitive in international markets.  Hong Kong is an ideal testing ground for Swedish firms to promote their products to the huge consumer groups in Asia, and especially in the Mainland of China.  Your customers become your very loyal promoters when they return home.  It is often the case that, if it sells well in Hong Kong, it will then sell well across the boundary in Mainland China with its customer base of some 1.3 billion potential customers.

     Swedish firms are also keen participants in the various mega trade fairs held in Hong Kong each year covering almost all sectors, from gifts and premium products to jewellery, fashion and wine, to name just a few.

     A flagship event for the design industry is the Business of Design Week, or what we call BODW for short.

     The Hong Kong Design Centre has been organising the annual BODW since 2002.  Our friends from the Design Centre are here today and its Chairman, Dr Victor Lo, will talk more about this event a little later.  In a nutshell, BODW brings together a cross-section of global design stakeholders to network, share ideas and identify new design trends.

     Each year, a Partner Country is chosen for BODW and we are delighted that Sweden is our Partner Country for BODW 2014, which will take place in December.

     Sweden・s high-level participation will also help Hong Kong establish a long-term design relationship with Sweden, promote interflow between respective creative industries, and tap the business opportunities between the two sides.

     The business of design is also a big deal for Hong Kong.  Design is one of our fastest-growing creative sectors.  The value-added of the design sector to Hong Kong・s economy has increased by 230 per cent from 93 million Euros in 2005 to 306 million Euros in 2012.

    Another new showcase opportunity for Swedish creativity in Hong Kong is PMQ.  In times gone by, PMQ served as the Police Married Quarters on Hong Kong Island.  This historic site is being transformed into a creative hub with studios and event venues.  The location is right in the heart of the city surrounded by clusters of creative establishments such as antique shops and galleries as well as some of the city・s famous entertainment and nightlife landmarks.

     PMQ officially opens next month.  This is a timely opportunity for Sweden・s young designers and entrepreneurs, or create-preneurs, to be part of this exciting development from the get-go.  By setting aside a historic site for creative industries, PMQ highlights not one, but two objectives of the Government, namely to preserve Hong Kong・s heritage and to promote arts and cultural activities.

     Allow me to also mention the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) which is under development.  The Cultural District is a 40-hectare site on our iconic Victoria Harbour shoreline.  It will include various world-class performing arts venues.

     Among other major venues of the Cultural District is the M+ museum for contemporary visual arts.  I am pleased that the Executive Director of M+, Dr Lars Nittve, is here with us today.  I am sure that Dr Nittve・s presentation later this evening will be of great interest to us all.

     Closer creative and technology collaboration between Hong Kong and Sweden is not a new concept.

     Delegations from the cities of Malmo and Lund have been taking part in our annual IT flagship event InnoCarnival for the past four years.

     On that note, I am pleased that Sweden will launch its first Innocarnival in November this year in the city of Lund.  I am also pleased that the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation is one of the supporting partners for the Lund Innocarnival.

     We also welcome Swedish entrepreneurs to join the Hong Kong Science Park・s innovation clusters.  The Science Park is a core piece of our technology infrastructure.  It is currently home to about 440 companies organised into five broad industry clusters.  The Phase 3 expansion of the Science Park will be completed in phases starting this year and will accommodate another 150 tech companies and start-ups. The overriding theme of the Phase 3 development is green technology.  I encourage Sweden・s green research and development companies to see how the Science Park can help to develop their presence in Asia.

     In 2012, Hong Kong signed a Sustainability Charter with Malmo City.  In March this year, the Hong Kong Science Park was included as a third party in the Charter to provide assistance and support to both cities.  Please do take advantage of this opportunity for stronger collaboration on green innovation.

     Hong Kong is one of the most high-tech and efficient cities in the world.  The Government・s policy is to harness the full potential of information communications technology to benefit the community and enhance Hong Kong・s position as a leading digital city.

     Hong Kong ranks highly in global standings for IT infrastructure, including: number one for international Internet bandwidth, second in the world for business and innovation environment, and third for mobile tariffs affordability.  Hong Kong is ranked first in Asia and seventh in the world in the 2013 Global Innovation Index.  I should also mention that Sweden is ranked a very impressive second in the Global Innovation Index, which means that Hong Kong still has some catching up to do.

     I have mentioned two key areas where Hong Kong can be a very effective partner with Sweden in further developing and promoting the creative and innovation sectors of both places.  Hong Kong, with its large captive audience of local residents and tens of millions of visitors each year, is an ideal showcase for Swedish design and innovative solutions in Asia and on the doorstep of the Mainland of China.  Swedish firms can also make best use of Hong Kong・s innovation infrastructure to develop and commercialise new products and services and contribute to the vibrant innovation clusters across the city.

     My third and final point today is the more general topic of Hong Kong・s innovation-friendly environment.

     Hong Kong has been ranked as the world・s freest economy for each of the past 20 years.  That is according to the Heritage Foundation based in the US.  This is remarkable achievement.  On July 1 this year, we will mark the 17th anniversary of Hong Kong・s return to China under the principle of :One Country, Two Systems;.

     Under :One Country, Two Systems;, Hong Kong enjoys the benefits of being part of the world・s second largest economy.  At the same time, we also maintain our own tried and trusted systems.  In other words, we offer the combined advantages of "One Country" and "Two Systems".  We have our own legal system based on common law and underpinned by an independent judiciary.  We have a robust and user-friendly intellectual property rights regime.  We also have our own financial system with a fully convertible currency, the Hong Kong dollar.  In Hong Kong there are no restrictions on the flow of capital.  We also have a free media, free flow of information and an uncensored Internet.

     Companies from around the world, including Sweden, have established their regional offices and regional headquarters in Hong Kong.  They take full advantage of our low and simple tax regime, our effective rule of law, well-educated workforce, and all firms benefit from our unparalleled connectivity with markets in the Mainland of China.

     Ladies and gentlemen, Hong Kong is a city that is always open to new ideas and new business opportunities.  We stand ready to welcome our Swedish friends with open arms.

     I thank the co-organisers of this dinner, namely the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, our Economic and Trade Office in London, and last, but by no means least, the Royal Sweden Hong Kong Business Council.

     I am delighted to have this opportunity to meet with you today and I hope you will pay us a visit in Hong Kong very soon.  Please also mark your diaries for the first week in December when our 2014 Business of Design Week takes on a very Swedish flavour.

     Thank you very much and have a great evening.

Ends/Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Issued at HKT 05:50


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