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Speech by PSCIT at signing ceremony of HK - Oregon and Washington states MOU on Co-operation in Wine-related Businesses (English only)

     Following is a speech by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce, Industry and Tourism), Miss Yvonne Choi, at the signing ceremony of the Hong Kong - Oregon and Washington States of the United States Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Co-operation in Wine-related Businesses today (May 24):

Secretary Lau, Mr Terhune, Director Coba, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to seal this co-operation agreement with the states of Oregon and Washington on wine promotion.  I would like to extend a warm welcome to Hong Kong to representatives from both states.  I am delighted that Mr Chip Terhune, representing the Governor of Oregon, and Ms Katy Coba, Director of Oregon Department of Agriculture, are here with us today.

     A Memorandum of Understanding on wine-related business between the States of Oregon and Washington in the US and Hong Kong may seem an unlikely union at first sight.  After all, we don't produce any grapes in Hong Kong and the Pacific Northwest is relatively young in terms of wine production, which dates back centuries elsewhere.

     However, this co-operation agreement will help unlock new opportunities for the industry.

     We like to call Hong Kong Asia's world city because of the global elements that underpin our reputation as an open, dynamic and cosmopolitan city in the region.

     At the same time, in the US, the phrase "A world of wines in 40 miles" refers to the great diversity of wine produced along the Columbia Gorge separating the states of Oregon and Washington.

     The MOU we sign today will help bring a "world of wines" to Asia's world city.

     We welcome wine companies from Oregon and Washington to take advantage of Hong Kongˇ¦s prime location, business friendly environment and low tax regime to discover their niche in the booming wine market in Asia and particularly on the Mainland of China.

     Low taxes ˇV or perhaps I should say, no taxes ˇV are a key ingredient of our recent success as a wine trading and distribution hub in Asia.

     Since eliminating duties just over two years ago, the value of wine imported into Hong Kong from the US has increased five-fold.  We have also overtaken London to become the second largest centre for wine auctions in the world, behind only New York.

     Riding on this MOU, we will strengthen our joint efforts on promoting wine-related trading, tourism, investment, education and the fight against counterfeits.

     Hong Kong has a knack for trade promotion.  We present an ideal platform for companies from Oregon and Washington to market their boutique wines to clients in Asia, particularly Mainland China.

     Talking about the trade promotion activities in Hong Kong, in October, we will be staging our Wine and Dine Festival again along the West Kowloon waterfront.  This festival was first launched last year with great success.

     Another event to look out for is the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair organised by our Trade Development Council in early November.

     I hope more wine merchants from the Pacific Northwest will join these exciting events.

     This wine agreement is Hong Kongˇ¦s first trade agreement with Oregon and Washington states.  I have no doubt it will serve our respective wine industries well.  I also hope it will help open up a new chapter in bilateral relations between our respective economies.

     Finally, I wish all our visitors a memorable stay in Hong Kong.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Monday, May 24, 2010
Issued at HKT 18:28


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