Hong Kong signs wine agreement with New Zealand (with photos/video)

     The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, today (October 28) signed an Arrangement on Co-operation on Wine-related Business with the visiting Trade Minister and Associate Foreign Affairs Minister of New Zealand, Mr Tim Groser, marking another step in bolstering Hong Kong's development as a regional wine trading and distribution hub.   

     The Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang; the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce, Industry and Tourism), Miss Yvonne Choi; and the New Zealand Consul-General in Hong Kong, Ms Adele Bryant, witnessed the signing of the co-operation arrangement.

     Under the arrangement, both places will strengthen co-operation in the promotion of wine-related trading, investment, tourism and education and in the fight against counterfeit wine.

     The two sides will also share trade-related information such as market conditions to facilitate trade and business promotion activities, share information and experience on sustainably produced wines in New Zealand, and step up co-operation, where possible, in international organisations where both Hong Kong and New Zealand participate.
     Addressing the signing ceremony, Mrs Lau said New Zealand was Hong Kong's 10th largest source of wine imports. The signing of the co-operation arrangement would benefit the economies of both Hong Kong and New Zealand.

     "The arrangement will fortify Hong Kong's development as a regional hub for wine trading and distribution and at the same time, enhance our role as an efficient and reliable avenue for New Zealand to grow its wine exports to the Mainland and throughout East Asia."

     Mrs Lau said the conclusion of the arrangement was also well timed, as Hong Kong would hold its first Wine and Dine Festival from October 30 to November 8 and its second International Wine and Spirits Fair next week.

     "The Wine and Dine Festival is an important milestone in Hong Kong's efforts to develop the wine and dine industries," she said. The festival, the first in Hong Kong, will give people the chance to taste wines from around the world and also indulge in pairing wine and food along the West Kowloon harbourfront, with Victoria Harbour providing a spectacular backdrop.

     "Also, building on the success of last year's International Wine and Spirits Fair, the second edition of the event next week will be even bigger with double the number of exhibitors compared to 2008," she said.

     Hong Kong became the first free wine port among major economies when the Financial Secretary eliminated wine duties in his Budget last year. In the year ending March 2009, the value of wine imports into Hong Kong has increased 80% to $3.198 billion year-on-year. A total of 10 wine auctions have been held so far this year, and companies are fast expanding their storage facilities and trading and distribution businesses here.

     The Government has, in parallel, undertaken a series of measures to support Hong Kong's development as a regional wine trading and distribution hub, including the signing of wine co-operation agreements with trading partners. Since August last year, six similar agreements have already been signed with France, Bordeaux of France, Spain, Australia, Italy and Hungary.

     Other measures being pursued include customs facilitation, trade and investment promotion, manpower training and education, and combating counterfeits.

Ends/Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Issued at HKT 10:50