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Speech by FS at Asian Financial Forum cocktail reception (English only) (with photo/video)

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the cocktail reception of the Asian Financial Forum at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this evening (January 16):

Distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening.

     Thank you so much for coming to our cocktail reception.

     I am delighted to meet you all here at the Hong Kong Booth. And I trust that Day One of the Asian Financial Forum has been an enjoyable and fruitful one for you all.

     What better way to end the first day of the Forum than by relaxing with friends over a few refreshments.

     Naturally, I hope that our visitors will find time in their busy schedules to do some shopping during your stay in Hong Kong. Every little bit helps as we try to give our businesses a bit of a New Year boost. That way we can be even better prepared for what is likely to be another challenging year for the global economy in 2012.

     In Hong Kong's shopping districts you will find quality brand names from around the world. Investors can even own a piece of some of the most famous international brands through our stock exchange. Chow Tai Fook, Coach, Prada and Samsonite all made their debuts on our stock exchange last year.

     In fact, 2011 was quite a bumper year for IPOs in Hong Kong. Although the numbers were down compared with the previous year, Hong Kong still led the world in IPO funds raised for the third year in a row. This is a good achievement for us, especially considering the intense competition and uncertain economic environment globally. The nature and origin of new listed companies also reflects our concerted efforts to diversify and internationalise the Hong Kong stock market.

     Top brands from Europe, the US and Mainland China were among the 100 or so new listings in Hong Kong last year. Total IPO funds raised reached US$36 billion.

     While out and about in Hong Kong, you may also notice that more retail outlets and hotels are doing business using the Mainland currency, the Renminbi.

     This indicates two important trends for us. The first is the huge number of tourists from Mainland China coming to visit Hong Kong.

     The other trend is the proliferation of Renminbi business outside the Mainland. I believe that, right here in Hong Kong, we are now witnessing the birth of the Renminbi as a new international currency. In 2011, Renminbi deposits in Hong Kong almost doubled to around RMB630 billion. Total Renminbi trade settlement handled by Hong Kong banks since its inception in 2009 now exceeds RMB2 trillion. And the value of Renminbi bond issuances in Hong Kong last year was three times that of 2010.

     I encourage you to take a look around the Hong Kong Booth and find out more about our city's role as China's global financial centre.

     Ladies and gentlemen, I won't bombard you with any more facts and figures this evening. No doubt our exceptional speakers will have discussed all the salient trends and statistics during the various dialogues and discussions today.

     Tomorrow's Asian Financial Forum programme will be no less interesting and insightful.

     As you may know, we are preparing to welcome next week the New Year of the Dragon. And, as luck would have it, the dragon is a symbol of strength and good fortune in Chinese culture.

     So allow me to wish you all an enjoyable evening, a successful Asian Financial Forum and a prosperous Year of the Dragon.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Monday, January 16, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:41


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