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SCED concludes his visit to Japan (with photos)

     The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, concluded his five-day visit to Japan today (May 17). He spoke at the "Think Global, Think Hong Kong" Symposium organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) in Osaka and had a meeting with the Vice Governor of Hyogo.

     Today's Symposium in Osaka was the second promotion event staged in Japan by the HKTDC following the one in Tokyo on May 15. It enriched the knowledge of firms in Osaka about the competitive edge of Hong Kong as an ideal platform for overseas companies entering global markets, especially the vast one in the Mainland. The Governor of Osaka Prefecture, Mr Ichiro Matsui, and heavyweights from the commercial sector of Osaka also attended the Symposium to show their support.

     Delivering a keynote speech at the Symposium, Mr So said Hong Kong is proud to have been Osaka's first Business Partner City since 1988 to promote economic exchange.

     He went on to elaborate on Hong Kong's global advantages that could help companies from Osaka use Hong Kong as a springboard.

     "Hong Kong is home to around 7 000 companies from the Mainland and around the world. Over 1 000 of these companies are Japanese firms, which is second in number behind only the US. Around 650 Japanese enterprises have set up their regional headquarters or regional offices in our city.

     "More Japanese firms are coming to Hong Kong. According to my colleagues at InvestHK, our department responsible for Foreign Direct Investment, the number of Japanese companies that they assisted to set up in Hong Kong during the first three months of this year represented a 78 per cent increase over the same period last year," Mr So said.

     Mr So added that Hong Kong has an indispensable role to play as a premier gateway into and out of the Mainland. He said that under a free trade pact with the Mainland, the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), products of Hong Kong meeting CEPA rules of origin can enjoy tariff-free entry to the Mainland, and that CEPA, covering 47 service sectors, could provide enhanced access to markets across the whole country.

     "Perhaps the most important point for our Japanese friends is that CEPA is nationality-neutral. Foreign firms incorporated in Hong Kong, including Japanese firms, can enjoy the same benefits of CEPA as local companies," Mr So said.

     Moreover, Mr So highlighted Hong Kong's status as an international financial hub and as China's global financial centre.

     Apart from leading the world for funds raised through initial public offerings for each of the past three years, Hong Kong has been by far the largest centre for offshore Renminbi banking, bond issuance and trade settlement.

     "Our efficient and reliable clearing platform provides an ideal opportunity for Japanese enterprises to settle trade transaction payments with their business partners in the Mainland using Renminbi," Mr So added.

     After attending the Symposium, Mr So met with the Vice Governor of Hyogo, Mr Kazuo Kanazawa. They updated each other on the latest developments of the two places. Mr So told Mr Kanazawa that he was pleased to hear of the establishment of a representative office of Hyogo in Hong Kong later this year. He said he looked forward to building even closer ties between the two places.

     Mr So will return to Hong Kong tonight.

Ends/Thursday, May 17, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:33


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