Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Berlin - Reception for inauguration of operation (English only)

     The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO), Berlin of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region held a business reception today (May 19, Berlin time) to mark the inauguration of its operation in Berlin.

     The HKETO is the first overseas office established by the Government of the HKSAR after the reunification with China.  "Our mission is to represent Hong Kong Government and to strengthen the bilateral economic and trade relationships, in a focused and extended manner, between Hong Kong and Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Switzerland", said Mr Stephen Kai-yi Wong, Director of the HKETO, Berlin, in his welcoming remarks.  

     "Since the reunification in 1997, Hong Kong has seen the working of the 'One Country, Two Systems' principle and continued to be the freest economy in the world," Mr Wong added.  

     In relation to the setting up of the new office, which also bears testimony to the "highly autonomous" administration of Hong Kong, Mr Wong thanked the German Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Berlin city government and Berlin Partner as well as those business organisations and corporations, including the Asia Pacific Committee, the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHKs) and AIHK (in particular Mr Ekkehard G?ttingˇ¦s office in Hong Kong), the German Asia-Pacific Business Association (OAV) and the German Consul-General in Hong Kong Mr Frank Burbach, who had rendered support in resolving all the legal and logistical challenges.  He also expressed gratitude for the tremendous support from Ambassador Ma of the Chinese Embassy.

     Mr Wong also explained how Hong Kong was uniquely positioned as Asia's World City and the gateway to mainland China.  "We signed in 2003 a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA, with mainland China, and concluded six supplementary agreements since then ˇV the most recent one being signed 10 days ago.  Under CEPA, all goods of Hong Kong origin enjoy zero tariff in the mainland market.  A total of 42 services sectors are given preferential treatment, including those in which German companies may be interested such as telecommunications, technology and environmental services.  CEPA is by design a fast track to enter the massive goods and service markets in the mainland of China from Hong Kong," he said.

     He also added that Hong Kong is prepared to revise its laws soon to update the standards for the exchange of tax information internationally, which has already been positively acknowledged by the OECD.

     Mr Wong also updated the guests on latest developments in Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong Computer and Communications Festival 2009 to be held in August, the 5th East Asian Games to be held in December and the measures taken to control the human swine flu or "Influenza A H1N1" in Hong Kong.  "We in the Government took all the requisite measures legally and in good faith, with a view to tackling the virus at source without delay," said Mr Wong.

     About 180 guests attended the reception including Ambassador Hans-Henning Blomeyer ˇV Bartenstein (Director General for Asian and Pacific Affairs, Federal Foreign Office), Dr Ralf Kleindiek (Head of Minister's Office, Federal Ministry of Justice) and Ms Mary Chow, Special Representative for Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs to the European Communities, and officials from federal and local governments in Germany as well as representatives from business organisations and leading enterprises.

     Germany being the largest trading partner of Hong Kong in the European Union, the new office commenced operation in Berlin on March 9, 2009 and will continue to promote the interests of Hong Kong in concerted efforts with Hong Kong Tourism Board and Hong Kong Trade Development Council based in Frankfurt, which is an established public and statutory body, as well as its consultants in the region.  

     The HKETO, Berlin can be reached at:
Friedrichstrasse 50, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Tel: +49 (0) 30 22 66 77 22 8
Fax: +49 (0) 30 22 66 77 2 88
Website: www.hketoberlin.gov.hk
Email: cee@hketoberlin.gov.hk

Ends/Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Issued at HKT 05:55