Speech by FS at opening ceremony of HK International Wine & Spirits Fair 2012 (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair 2012 this morning (November 8):

Fred (Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Mr Fred Lam), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning.

     I am pleased to join you for the opening ceremony of the fifth Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair. A warm welcome to you all, and especially to our visitors from around the world.

     Fittingly for a world city like Hong Kong, this year's Wine Fair has a particularly strong international flavour. We are delighted that exhibitors from Russia, Denmark and Azerbaijan are represented here for the first time.

     Also, all the major wine regions of the world have a strong presence at the Fair again this year. A total of some 950 exhibitors from over 30 countries are attending this event. They are attracted by Hong Kong's growing stature as a wine hub in Asia and our strong links to some of the most exciting markets in the region, including Mainland China.

     Since eliminating duties on wine in 2008, the total value of our wine imports has soared from about US$200 million in 2007 to US$1.2 billion last year. Hong Kong has also become the world's largest wine auction centre. Total sales amounted to US$230 million last year.

     All these activities require special logistics services and high-quality storage facilities as well as creative marketing and branding. Wine expertise is also essential in providing the right environment for the industry to flourish.

     We are grateful to our international partners in wine promotion for lending their experience and enthusiasm to Hong Kong's development as a wine trading and distribution centre.

     Experts attending the Wine Industry Conference later today will help predict where the industry goes from here. The theme of the Conference is "The Future of the Global Wine Industry - Trends and Opportunities".

     We look forward to learning more about the trends and opportunities for wine merchants in Asia. Enthusiasts can also enhance their wine knowledge at the Fair through a variety of seminars, tastings and master classes. Indeed, there is something for everyone here in the world of wine. After all, it was James Bond in the film "Goldfinger" who reminded us, and I quote, "There are some things that just aren't done, such as drinking Dom Perignon '53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit". End quote.

     Of course, you don't have to be a dashing secret agent with a licence to kill to enjoy vintage champagne - but it probably helps!

     Ladies and gentlemen, whatever your interest and involvement in the wine industry, I would like to wish you a successful Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Thursday, November 8, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:33