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Chief Executive starts visit to Chile (with photos)

     The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, today (April 12, Santiago time) began the first leg of his South America visit in Santiago, the capital city of Chile.

     On arrival, Mr Tsang met with Chile's Minister of Finance, Mr Felipe Larraín, and the Vice Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism, Mr Tomás Flores, to exchange views on the latest developments of Hong Kong and Chile.
     The Chief Executive also gave a speech at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), elaborating on Hong Kong's role in China's development. The ECLAC comprises 44 member states with a view to contributing to the economic development of Latin America, co-ordinating actions directed towards this end, reinforcing economic ties among countries and with other nations of the world, and promoting the region's social development. Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping also spoke at the ECLAC when he visited Chile in June 2011.

     Mr Tsang said that Hong Kong and the Mainland have been each other's largest external investors for some time, but the most significant recent development in Hong Kong's role for China has been the internationalisation of the Renminbi.

     He said that with the recent expansion of the Renminbi trade settlement scheme to cover the whole of Mainland China, companies around the world, including those in Latin America, could settle their Mainland trade in each and every Mainland province using Renminbi for the first time.

     Last year alone, Hong Kong banks handled RMB1.9 trillion in trade settlement transactions, or about 92 per cent of all global trade settlement in Renminbi.

     "The development of offshore Renminbi business is not limited to Hong Kong. We encourage financial institutions elsewhere to use Hong Kong as a platform to develop their own Renminbi portfolios," Mr Tsang said.

     After the ECLAC speech, the Chief Executive also addressed the Santiago business community at a dinner hosted by Standard Chartered Bank Chile. Highlighting Hong Kong's advantages and role as China's global financial centre, Mr Tsang encouraged Chile's resources sector to consider the potential of a Hong Kong listing.

     "In each of the past three years, Hong Kong has led the world in terms of funds raised through initial public offerings. While our nation is a major consumer of mining commodities, Chile is a major exporter. It is a promising combination," he said.

     In the next two days, the Chief Executive will meet Chile's Vice President, Mr Rodrigo Hinzpeter; the Governor of the Central Bank of Chile, Mr Rodrigo Vergara; and leaders of the country's National Congress. He will continue to meet local business community leaders before heading to Brazil on April 15 (Santiago time).

     Chile was Hong Kong's fourth largest trading partner among those in Latin America and the 43rd largest trading partner worldwide in 2011, with an average annual growth of 12.4 per cent in bilateral trade from 2007 to 2011. Last year, $6.13 billion worth of goods between Chile and the Mainland were routed through Hong Kong.

     Earlier on, the Chief Executive concluded his visit to New Zealand. In a speech at a luncheon hosted by the Employers and Manufacturers Association, Export New Zealand and the Hong Kong New Zealand Business Association, he said that local businessmen would find Hong Kong a reliable base with a common law legal system similar to that of New Zealand.

     He said that Hong Kong had a proven track record as a capital-raising centre, and it was the first and only place to issue offshore Renminbi, or "dim sum", bonds.

     "Last year, there were 91 'dim sum' bond issues in Hong Kong. The total issuance value was almost RMB108 billion or over NZ$20 billion," he said. "I see strong potential for New Zealand companies to raise Renminbi capital in Hong Kong to fund operations in the Mainland."

Ends/Friday, April 13, 2012
Issued at HKT 11:43


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