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CE speaks at dialogue session with ASEAN business officials (with photos and video)

    Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at the "Pan-Pearl River Delta Chief Executives and ASEAN Business Officials Dialogue Session" in Changsha, Hunan this morning (June 10):

Leaders, ministers and officials of the ASEAN country representatives,

     I am very delighted to have this opportunity of discussing with ministers and leaders of the ASEAN countries at this Pan-Pearl River Delta forum on the subject of strengthening co-operation between the PPRD and ASEAN. I would like to talk about how Hong Kong can help promote economic and trade co-operation between the two regions.

     In our view, Hong Kong possesses unparalleled strengths and unique features in bridging the PPRD and ASEAN.

     First, as an open economic entity, Hong Kong has prospered on external trade. We have recorded double digit growth in the total export for four consecutive years. Our total trade exceeds our gross domestic product by fourfold. Such performance has substantiated our status as a hub of trade and logistics and investment in the region. Our extensive trade connections both with the Mainland provinces and AESAN countries have facilitated import and export trade between the two regions. For instance, last year the value of goods that routed though Hong Kong amounted to nearly 20% of the total bilateral trade value between China and ASEAN. That clearly illustrates the important intermediary role that Hong Kong plays.

     Second, as an international financial centre, Hong Kong provides ASEAN and PPRD enterprises with a diversified and effective market for raising funds. Last year, Hong Kong’s stock market ranked second in the world in terms of initial public offers, second only after London. We have passed over New York. A considerable share of fund raised is drawn from sources worldwide. In addition, Hong Kong is the largest venture capital centre in Asia. It manages venture capital valued at about US$40 billion. PPRD and ASEAN enterprises can assess these funds worldwide through raising capital in Hong Kong.

     Third, Hong Kong has extensive global connections and can facilitate trade between ASEAN and PPRD. Last year, 3,800 overseas and Mainland enterprises established their regional headquarters or regional offices in Hong Kong. Many of them managed business in the Mainland and Southeast Asia through Hong Kong. By setting up offices in Hong Kong, PPRD and ASEAN enterprises can effectively network with overseas enterprises. PPRD enterprises can meet ASEAN counterparts and ASEAN enterprises can meet PPRD counterparts for trade, investment and other co-operative efforts. All PPRD provincial capital and ASEAN regions are well connected by airlines through Hong Kong. Indeed, we provide the best channel for communication and networking between enterprises of the two regions.

     Fourth, our superior professional services also facilitate economic and trade exchanges and co-operation between PPRD and ASEAN. We have a large number of professionals equipped with expertise, language proficiency as well as experience of business opportunities both in PPRD region and ASEAN. Not only can they help PPRD enterprises to reach out worldwide, they can also help ASEAN enterprises enter the huge Mainland market.

     ASEAN and PPRD regions are in different stages of economic development. Their strengths vary yet they share some common features. Their differences and similarities in industrial architecture and strengths call for a go-between that has the superior and establish expertise for trade and Hong Kong is the ideal go-between. A dialogue with ASEAN countries and PPRD counterparts at this forum is a very start, but in-depth communication and expert knowledge are needed for delivering progress and result. We propose to enhance exchanges at the working level where we can thoroughly discuss the scope and specific initiatives of co-operation. It must go beyond exchanges at the leaders' level but go right down to the working level.

     The HKSAR Government attaches great importance to the ASEAN and PPRD markets. Our Economic and Trade Offices in Singapore, Guangdong and Chengdu as well as Invest Hong Kong are actively helping businessmen across the region, and achieving tripartite economic and trade co-operation.

     Ladies and gentlemen, we are at advanced stage of preparation for establishing China-ASEAN free trade area. Hong Kong has unparallel bridging role. We have experience. We have the connectivity and we will continue to work hard in bridging enterprises in PPRD and ASEAN countries through our mutual benefits.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Sunday, June 10, 2007
Issued at HKT 15:14


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