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Hong Kong-Ontario partnership facilitates Asia Pacific trade (with photo)

    A collaboration announced today (November 16, Toronto time) between the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Canada and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), Canada's largest provincial trade organisation, will enable Ontario businesses to better leverage on the vast opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

     Described by the OCC as an alliance between the business people of Hong Kong and Ontario, the "China Initiative" allows Ontario's small and medium-sized businesses to utilise Hong Kong's position as the gateway to Mainland China, providing Ontario a taking-off point into this fast-developing economy and a potential base for its Asia-Pacific regional expansion.  

     The "China Initiative" announcement was made at a reception at the BMO Financial Group's Toronto headquarters. BMO is one of the many Canadian companies that have developed strong business links in Hong Kong and Mainland China.

     Speaking to about 150 business leaders, senior government trade officials, and media representatives at the reception, the Director of the HKETO, Mr Bassanio So, said: "Historically, Hong Kong has been China's window to the world. Not only do foreign companies use Hong Kong as a stepping-stone to launch their products or services into Mainland China, Chinese companies also use Hong Kong as a launching pad for international expansion.

     "And to Canada, Hong Kong may even be your beachhead in China. Under the 'one country, two systems' principle, our economic and legal systems are preserved. These, combined with the economic freedom companies enjoy in Hong Kong, free flow of information, a level playing field, and corruption-free civil service, have made Hong Kong most user-friendly for Canadian companies to do business in China.

     "I do mean doing business IN CHINA," added Mr So. "Hong Kong is not a gateway to China, we are indeed a gateway in China."

     The Ontario Chamber of Commerce represents over 57,000 businesses through 160 local chambers of commerce and boards of trade, and has been Ontario's business advocate since 1911. Its advocacy and policy initiatives focus on six areas key to the economic well-being of the province: health; education; energy; finance & taxation; transportation & infrastructure; and border issues.

     Speaking about this exciting Hong Kong-Ontario collaboration, Len Crispino, President and CEO of the OCC, said: "The China Initiative will enable Ontario businesses to bridge the gap in market intelligence and business culture in the Asia-Pacific region.
     "Hong Kong is well-positioned to provide Canadian businesses a platform from which to take advantage of investment and business opportunities in this robust economic region, and in so doing, to bolster Ontario's own position in the global marketplace."

     The HKETO will provide a stronger link between OCC and the "Hong Kong family" members, including the Canadian offices of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Invest Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Tourism Board; the Chinese business associations across Canada, and the different sections of the Hong Kong-Canada Business Association in eight major Canadian cities, as well as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, which is the second largest foreign chamber of commerce in the Special Administrative Region.

     The highlights of the "China Initiative" include joint efforts between OCC and the "Hong Kong family" in the organisation and promotion of the "2007 China Summit", and the upcoming 3rd Canada-Hong Kong National Business Forum seminars next April, as well as the launching of a new website to facilitate trade between Ontario, Hong Kong, and the Mainland of China.

     The "China Initiative" will provide Ontario businesses with a direct link to the vast knowledge and experience of Hong Kong business organisations. Through this link, businesses will be able to access market intelligence, sectoral information and trade facilitation as well as information on trade opportunities and trade missions and fairs.

Ends/Friday, November 17, 2006
Issued at HKT 12:28