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

     Following is the speech delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the Asian Financial Forum (AFF) cocktail reception this evening (January 14):

     Thank you Charles (Li). Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.

     Thank you for coming to our cocktail reception, and Happy New Year to everyone.

     This reception is a chance for me to thank you all for your contributions to the AFF 2013. The success of the AFF since its launch in 2007 reflects Asia's growing stature in the global economy and world finance.

     This event is also a great way to kick off the new year on a positive note. Indeed, it has been said that one can tell the difference between an optimist and a pessimist on New Year's Eve. An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves!

     In terms of global finance, no doubt some of us are pleased to see the back of 2012. But will this year be any better? I am a cautious optimist, and I am looking forward to the new year.

     There are already positive signs that we are headed in the right direction.

     Last month, the World Bank revised upwards its 2013 economic growth forecast for Mainland China from 7.9 per cent to 8.4 per cent. The World Bank also raised its GDP growth forecast for the East Asia region from 7.6 per cent to 7.9 per cent in 2013.

     In the US, measures to avoid falling over the "fiscal cliff" have resolved some of the concerns about the immediate prospects for the world's largest economy, but issues remain for resolution in the next couple of months.

     And in Europe, significant steps have been taken towards a banking union and financial integration, while Greece's debt rating was upgraded last month by Standard & Poor's to its highest level in 18 months.

     Whether you are optimistic or pessimistic about the year ahead, I would like to wish you all a successful AFF and a happy and prosperous 2013.

     Thank you and have a great evening.

Ends/Monday, January 14, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:05