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Speech by CS at Hong Kong Bahrain Business Association 10th Anniversary Cocktail Reception (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the reception in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong Bahrain Business Association this evening (October 21):

Dr Y C Chow, Your Excellency Mr Abdullah Saif, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     I am delighted to join you here this evening. First of all, I would like to extend my congratulations to the Hong Kong Bahrain Business Association for celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

     For the last decade, the Association is the only business chamber of a Gulf region country represented in the International Business Committee that I chair. I wish to extend my gratitude to the Association for your contribution to the work of the International Business Committee, and to the well-being of our community.

     Although many Hong Kong people may not be very familiar with Bahrain, our economic links have made us virtually very close neighbours. In 2012, our domestic merchandise exports to Bahrain recorded a very impressive growth of 82 per cent. There was also a 30 per cent growth in total merchandise trade between our two economies in the first seven months this year, mainly driven by the increase in demand for our jewellery and textiles.

     We value Bahrain as an emerging market with good potential. For this, I commend the Hong Kong Bahrain Business Association on your efforts over the past 10 years in forging closer economic ties between the two places.
     We welcome more Bahrain nationals to come to Hong Kong to experience our city and enjoy the business-friendly environment here in the world's freest economy, which was just reconfirmed by the Fraser Institute of Canada last month.

     I am sure that our friends from Bahrain are keen to attract businessmen from Hong Kong to trade with or invest in Bahrain. At the same time, we are also keen to learn from our Bahrain friends about ways to further develop our city's attractiveness to Middle Eastern entrepreneurs and investors.

     Hong Kong is known as the gateway to China. With the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (in short, CEPA), which took effect in 2003, overseas investors having a presence in Hong Kong can take advantage of the preferential and nationality-neutral treatment offered by CEPA, such as relaxation in equity share restrictions and zero tariffs for goods upon importation into the Mainland market.

     In recent years, Hong Kong has also emerged as the platform for Mainland companies to "go global" by taking advantage of the world-class service industries of Hong Kong, especially in the areas of legal services, accounting, financing, insurance and brand marketing. We encourage Mainland companies to make use of Hong Kong's pool of diversified and professional service providers and their international experience to expand globally. We hope that Hong Kong can act as a bridge in facilitating the trade and investment between Mainland China and Bahrain.

     Hong Kong has great potential to develop as a centre for Islamic finance in Asia. In July this year, we amended our tax laws to facilitate the development of Islamic finance in Hong Kong. Our robust and transparent regulatory environment is well-suited to Shariah-compliant investment products. We have a mature financial system with free flow of capital and a high degree of liquidity. We are also the leading offshore Renminbi centre with unmatched access to the financial markets of Mainland China.

     I hope that Bahrain companies and investors will make use of Hong Kong as a platform to attract investors here in Asia and especially in the Mainland of China.

     Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for this opportunity for me to meet with you all. We look forward to strengthening the economic links between Hong Kong and Bahrain in the years to come and welcoming more Bahrain companies to take full advantage of Hong Kong's strengths. I also wish the Hong Kong Bahrain Business Association a very prosperous 10th anniversary. Thank you.

Ends/Monday, October 21, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:42


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