Hong Kong and France sign MOU on Co-operation in Wine-related Businesses (with photos/videos)

     The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Wine-related Businesses (MOU) with the visiting French Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Michel Barnier, today (August 19) to enhance mutual co-operation in the development of wine-related businesses.

     Speaking at the MOU signing ceremony, the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, said the signing of the MOU, the first that Hong Kong has signed on the subject, demonstrated the commitment of both sides to join hands in encouraging wine-related businesses.

     Mr Tsang was pleased to note that under the memorandum, Hong Kong and France would facilitate and promote trade in wine. More specifically, the two sides will strengthen co-operation, exchanges and the sharing of experience in areas including the stimulation of wine-related trading and investment activities, wine education and manpower training, promotion of wine-related tourism and wine culture, as well as customs co-operation against counterfeit wine.

     He said both governments hoped that the MOU would be mutually beneficial in terms of supporting business partnerships and investment co-operation.

     :We are also up-beat about the synergy that the expansion in wine-related economic activities may generate for the promotion of tourism, the hospitality industry, as well as wine education and culture.

     :Above all, I am confident that this will generate economic benefits for both places, including the creation of jobs in Hong Kong, which has been the objective underlying the decision to remove duty on wine,; he added.

     Mr Tsang made reference to the jobs that had been or would be created for local people in the trading, retail, logistics and storage sectors, as wine-related companies expand their operations in Hong Kong in a bid to seize the business opportunities generated by the duty reduction.

     :We hope that more jobs will continue to be created,; Mr Tsang said.

     Also speaking at the MOU signing ceremony, the French Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Michel Barnier, said the MOU would produce a win-win solution for Hong Kong and France.

     :France・s unique expertise and large diversity in production, from the very high end grand crus and the chateaux, to the middle market very affordable quality wines of different producing regions, makes it the reference partner for wine trade and promotion.

     :With its logistical and financial expertise, its unique knowledge of the Mainland market as well as the strength of its hospitality and retail sectors, Hong Kong is the natural wine hub for Asia and is well positioned to catch the emerging business opportunities of the fastest growing international wine market,; Mr Barnier said.
     Hong Kong became the first free wine port among major economies with the abolition of wine duty earlier this year. Since then, there has been solid growth in wine imports, wine auctions with record-breaking sales and announcements by renowned companies to expand their wine trading, distribution and storage business in Hong Kong.

     The success of the inaugural International Wine Fair organised by the Trade Development Council last week, which attracted more than 240 exhibitors from over 25 countries/regions as well as 8,800 buyers from 55 countries/regions, is a further vote of confidence in Hong Kong・s position as a wine trading and distribution hub for Asia.

Ends/Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Issued at HKT 16:50