Speech by CS at reception to celebrate the 72nd Anniversary of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (with photo)
Consul-General (Mr Hoang Chi Trung), distinguished friends, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to join you all this evening to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of Vietnam's independence and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Association of the South East Asian Nations, or the ASEAN.
Over the years, Vietnam has demonstrated great determination and spirit to overcome significant challenges and ride on new opportunities in the pursuit of progress. Today, Vietnam is a key member of the ASEAN Economic Community and a driving economic force in the region. Among other things, Vietnam is an attractive destination for Hong Kong investors and tourists alike.
Vietnam is also a key partner of Hong Kong in relation to the ASEAN region. ASEAN is Hong Kong's second-largest trading partner, with merchandise trade of more than US$107 billion (HK$833 billion). To further strengthen Hong Kong's competitiveness as a partner for ASEAN, we expect to sign a Hong Kong–ASEAN Free Trade Agreement within this year. We are grateful to Vietnam for its strong support in the successful conclusion of the Hong Kong–ASEAN Free Trade Agreement.
Vietnam is our third largest trading partner in ASEAN, with bilateral trade in goods reaching US$16.2 billion (HK$126.4 billion). Hong Kong's business sector is keen to invest in the region and expand their manufacturing bases and service operation in Vietnam and ASEAN. The Hong Kong Business Association Vietnam echoes this sentiment with more than 300 corporate and individual members in Vietnam.
Our closer connectivity has not just come about by chance. It is the result of hard work and a firm commitment from both sides to work together to capture the many new opportunities in our region. In just the past 12 months, a number of our senior officials visited Vietnam, including my predecessor and now the Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, as well as the former Secretary for Education and Secretary for Transport and Housing. And last September we were pleased to welcome your Prime Minister, Mr Nguyen (Nguyen Xuan Phuc) for his first official visit to Hong Kong .
These reciprocal visits have borne fruits. During Prime Minister Mr Nguyen's visit, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce, together with Hong Kong Trade Development Council signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen economic and trade ties between the two places. Furthermore, the new-age carrier, Vietjet, announced the launch of a new international route linking Ho Chi Minh City and Hong Kong, strengthening the connection of the two dynamic regional hubs and tourism destinations.
Going forward, the new Belt and Road Initiative will create more opportunities for business collaboration between us.
Last year, Hong Kong hosted the inaugural high-level Belt and Road Summit, which included speakers and business missions from Vietnam. Four Vietnamese investment projects were presented at business matching workshops during the Summit. This year's Belt and Road Summit will be held on September 11, and we look forward to welcoming more Vietnamese business leaders to the event.
Hong Kong is an active participant and facilitator of the Belt and Road Initiative, with a prime geographical location between ASEAN and Mainland China. Just last month, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council brought a delegation of business people from Hong Kong and Shanghai to Vietnam. The visit was a vivid demonstration of how Hong Kong connects Chinese investors with projects in Vietnam and the world.
More than seven decades after independence, Vietnam has secured its place as a major player on the world stage. I warmly congratulate Vietnam on successfully hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meetings this year. We look forward to joining the Economic Leaders' Meeting in Vietnam in November. It will be another chance to reaffirm our friendship with Vietnam and our commitment to the region.
Once again, my warmest congratulations to our friends from Vietnam on your National Day.
Please raise your glasses and join me in a toast: To the people of Vietnam.
Ends/Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Issued at HKT 23:39
Issued at HKT 23:39