CE unveils plans to promote growth of six industries

     The Chief Executive Mr Donald Tsang, has today (October 14) announced a series of initiatives to spur Hong Kong's economic recovery and diversify Hong Kong's key economic strengths to achieve long-term economic growth.     

     The Chief Executive highlighted the need for closer regional co-operation, better use of land resources, and the development of six economic areas where Hong Kong enjoyed clear advantages.

      "The Government's strategy for promoting the six industries is to seize the opportunities arising from our co-operation with Guangdong and align our efforts with measures already introduced to get immediate results," Mr Tsang said.

     The six industries are: education services, medical services, testing and certification services, environmental industries, innovation and technology, and cultural and creative industries.

     Mr Tsang said that more than 1,000 old industrial buildings could be converted or redeveloped to facilitate the development of these industries.

     He proposed lowering the compulsory sale threshold for redevelopment; considering tailor-made lease conditions; and allowing payment of additional premiums exceeding $20 million by installments over five years at a fixed interest rate to encourage redevelopment of the buildings.

     On developing medical services, the Chief Executive said that creating more training places and promoting Hong Kong as a centre for Chinese medicine would be a high priority.

      "To facilitate the development of Chinese medicine, the Government will expedite the setting of standards for Chinese herbal medicines commonly used in Hong Kong," he said.

      "We will further consider allowing more renowned Chinese medicine practitioners from the Mainland to join clinical teaching and research programmes in Hong Kong so as to make Hong Kong a stage for promoting Chinese medicine to the world."

     Mr Tsang said the Testing and Certification industry would have an important role to play in establishing Hong Kong as a centre for Chinese medicine.

     He added that the Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification, which was set up in September, would have a key role to play in promoting the sector including drawing up a three-year plan for the industry.

      "The council will examine a number of important issues, including how to align the work of the Hong Kong Accreditation Service under the Innovation and Technology Commission with the development needs of the industry," he said.

     To encourage enterprises to invest in high technology and scientific research, the Government will allocate some $200 million to launch an "R&D Cash Rebate Scheme".

     Under the scheme, eligible enterprises will enjoy a cash rebate equivalent to 10% of their research and development investments.

     On education, Mr Tsang said new measures would be introduced to further internationalise the sector.

      "We will consider further relaxing the relevant requirements by, for example, allowing Mainland students to pursue studies in non-local programmes at degree level or above in Hong Kong," he said.

     The Chief Executive added that the number of non-local students in Hong Kong had increased by 16% to 9,200 last year following the introduction of measures to encourage more overseas students to come to Hong Kong.

     To further diversify the sector through the promotion of more self-financing degree-awarding programmes, the Chief Executive proposed increasing the total commitment of the Start-up Loan Scheme by $2 billion.

     To facilitate the development of self-financing higher education, the Government has reserved sites in Ho Man Tin and Wong Chuk Hang for interested operators to provide programmes that are expected to provide some 4,000 places.

     For environmental industries, Mr Tsang proposed extending the scope of the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme to further assist factories in the region to adopt cleaner production techniques. Since the launch of the programme in April last year, over 330 projects had been approved up to end-September this year.

     Mr Tsang also said the Government had secured approval for eligible Hong Kong enterprises to participate in Clean Development Mechanism projects in the Mainland which would help to expand the transfer of green technology.

     To develop cultural and creative industries, Mr Tsang said the Government would continue to promote regional co-operation in this field under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).

     He highlighted the success of the film industry using this model saying that six out of the top 10 box office hits in the Mainland last year were Hong Kong-Mainland co-productions.

      "The latest supplement to CEPA introduces further liberalisation measures for the creative industries, covering films, publishing and printing, and online game products," he said.

     Mr Tsang added that the Government would seize the opportunities of the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District to promote arts and culture in schools and throughout the community.

     He described the past year as a milestone in Hong Kong's co-operation with Guangdong following the Central Government's unveiling in January of the Outline of the Plan for the Reform and Development of the PRD region (the Outline).

     He said each of the six industries would benefit greatly from this enhanced regional co-operation.

     Mr Tsang also said closer cross-boundary co-operation under the Outline would give impetus to Hong Kong's      established "pillar" industries; financial services, tourism, trade and logistics and professional services.

     The Chief Executive set out a series of objectives for Hong Kong's financial services sector. These include; attracting more international capital, financial institutions, products and talent; strengthening Hong Kong's role as a testing ground for Renminbi products and the internationalisation of the Mainland currency; to serve as a preferred capital raising centre for Mainland enterprises; and strengthen links between Hong Kong and Mainland financial markets.

      "As the RMB (Renminbi) moves towards internationalisation, the Mainland needs a highly open global financial centre that is fully aligned with the world financial markets to serve as its platform for foreign financial activities," Mr Tsang said. "Hong Kong can fit this role by making the best of our advantages."

     To strengthen the tourism industry, Mr Tsang said the Government was discussing with Central Authorities measures to facilitate more Mainland travellers visiting Hong Kong as well as simplifying entry arrangements and developing emerging markets.

     He said about 740,000 Shenzhen residents had taken advantage of the one-year multiple-entry Individual Visit Scheme since it was introduced in April.

     On logistics, Mr Tsang said Hong Kong would work closely with the local governments in the Mainland to maintain Hong Kong's leading position in the global supply chain.

     He also said the Government had identified a number of sites around Kwai Tsing for use by the trading and logistics sector with a view to facilitating the development of a logistics cluster.

     To give added stimulus to professional services, Mr Tsang said he would continue to explore further liberalisation measures under the CEPA framework to open up new markets and expand existing ones on the Mainland.

      "In the next decade, integration between Hong Kong and the PRD (Pearl River Delta) will speed up and increase in breadth and depth, covering economic, cultural and social areas," Mr Tsang said.

Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Issued at HKT 13:55