SCED: Wine MOU with Portugal uncorks new business opportunities (with photos)

     Hong Kong has been making the most of its strengths in logistics, tourism and financial services to develop as a wine trading and distribution hub for Asia.  It has become the world's second-largest wine auction centre since the elimination of wine duty in 2008, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, said today (October 22).

     Mrs Lau made the remarks when she signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Wine-related Businesses (MOU) with the visiting Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries of Portugal, Mr Antonio Serrano.

     "The value of total wine imports into Hong Kong surged by 80% in 2008 and a further 40% year-on-year in 2009.  Remember that this was against the backdrop of the global financial crisis. In the first eight months of 2010, the value of our wine imports reached US$500 million, up 73% compared with the same period last year," Mrs Lau said.

     To consolidate Hong Kong's status as the wine hub in Asia, various supportive measures had also been introduced.

     These measures cover areas such as customs facilitation, trade and investment promotion, manpower training and education, launching of a wine storage certification scheme and combating counterfeits.

     Mrs Lau said the MOU with Portugal would uncork new opportunities for co-operation between the two places, noting that the MOU contained a special component, namely Portuguese food specialities such as cheese, olive oil and related food items which were ideal accompaniments to wine.

     "This not only reflects the importance of food pairing in wine tasting, but also highlights the knowledge and expertise we have in matching different wines with Asian cuisine," she said.

     There is clearly great potential for producers, exporters, distributors and retailers to introduce wine and wine-associated products and services to Hong Kong and throughout Asia, Mrs Lau added.

     Mrs Lau said she was also pleased to see the active participation of Portuguese companies in two important homegrown events, namely the Wine and Dine Festival to be held in late October and the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair in early November.

     Since August 2008, Hong Kong has entered into similar wine co-operation agreements with France, Spain, Australia, Italy, Hungary, New Zealand and the United States, as well as the wine-producing regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, and Oregon and Washington states in the United States.

Ends/Friday, October 22, 2010
Issued at HKT 18:07