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Speech by Acting SCED at cocktail reception for Africa Day Celebration (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Acting Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at a cocktail reception for the Africa Day Celebration this evening (May 24):

Consul General Mr Gourgel, Consul General Mr Obasa, Consul General Ms Tambo, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     I am delighted to join you here this evening to commemorate Africa Day.  

     On May 25, 1963, African leaders founded the Organization of African Unity - now the African Union - and charted a new course for the people of Africa.  A great deal has been achieved by the nations and people of Africa since then, particularly in promoting closer political and economic integration, showing the world the potential and diversity of the African continent.  I congratulate you on these achievements.

     Boosted by Mainland China's proactive policy in relation to trade and investment in Africa, trade between the two places has grown significantly in recent years.  In the year 2000, the total volume of trade between Mainland China and Africa already exceeded US$10 billion.  By 2010, the trade between the two places had already increased to more than US$125 billion. With an average annual growth of around 30% and 40% in recent years, it has been anticipated that China-Africa trade might surpass the US$300 billion mark by 2015, if not even earlier.

     With China-Africa economic co-operation continuing to flourish, Hong Kong and Africa have been enjoying a broader and deeper relationship in recent years.  We see in particular an average of 5% annual growth in bilateral trade during 2006 and 2010.  Growing trade ties with Africa underline the role of Hong Kong as an important platform in further enhancing trade between Mainland China and Africa.  In 2010, goods worth US$3.3 billion traded between Africa and Mainland China were routed through Hong Kong.  With the rapid growth of trade and investment ties among the Mainland, Africa and Hong Kong, tripartite economic links are bound to develop and strengthen further in the foreseeable future.

     Tourism provides essential routes to cultural exchange and understanding.  According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals to Africa totalled 49 million in 2010, accounting for 5% of global tourism.  Here in Hong Kong, we continue to see a substantial increase in the number of visitors from Africa.  In 2010, there were more than 200,000 African visitors coming to Hong Kong, representing an increase of almost 12% over 2009.
     As an international trade and financial centre, Hong Kong has all along been working to facilitate growth in trade and investment between Mainland China and Africa, as well as to foster stronger bilateral trade with Africa.  Over the years, Hong Kong has increasingly been seen as a springboard for investors from Mainland China wishing to expand into the international market. Our well-established financial infrastructure, extensive transport links, comprehensive global telecommunications options, simple and low-tax regime, adaptable workforce and international outlook, all contribute to making Hong Kong an excellent platform for facilitating trade and investment between Mainland China and Africa.  

     On the other hand, given our geographical location, we have also long been regarded as a natural gateway to Mainland China.  Investors from countries around the world wishing to establish a presence in China have found it advantageous to set up offices in Hong Kong for sales, marketing, distribution, finance and management, while at the same time entering into strategic partnerships with Hong Kong entrepreneurs.  The implementation of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between Hong Kong and Mainland China since 2004 has also helped make Hong Kong a more attractive destination for overseas investors wishing to leverage on CEPA to gain greater access to markets in China. We welcome investors from Africa to make use of Hong Kong as a gateway to capitalise on the Mainland's economic growth.

     As a rapidly developing emerging market with a huge population and plenty of natural resources, Africa has offered a wide range of opportunities in the areas of trade, investment and tourism to investors around the world.  We expect to see an increasingly important role for Africa to play on the world stage.  We encourage Hong Kong enterprises to explore business opportunities in Africa.
     In closing, I would like to congratulate the Consulate-General of South Africa, Angola and Nigeria on successfully organising Africa Day in Hong Kong.  The event has undoubtedly presented an excellent occasion for business leaders and professionals to learn more about the potentials and opportunities in Africa.  Hong Kong is determined to work with Africa as a friend and partner in the years to come and I am confident that this event will help promote the stronger tie between the two places.

     Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Issued at HKT 19:52


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