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

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this morning (November 7):
Fred (Mr Fred Lam), Inˆms (Ms Inés Menéndez de Luarca), distinguished guests, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning.

     I am honoured to join you all this morning for the opening ceremony of this, the sixth, Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair. A warm welcome to you all to this year's event, and especially to our friends from Spain, España, our partner country this year.

     Also, congratulations to Fred and his team at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council for successfully organising this hugely popular event.

     There is a Spanish proverb which I don't know how to say in Spanish, but in English it says, "Good wine ruins the purse, bad wine ruins the stomach."

     While there may be some grains of truth in this proverb, Hong Kong has made it a mission to prove that good wine can also be good for your bank account.

     Take Spanish wine for example. Since I eliminated wine tariffs in my Budget back in 2008, the value of our wine imports from Spain has more than doubled from some HK$41 million to over HK$100 million. Of course, there is still plenty of room to grow.

     Also over the past five years, the total value of Hong Kong's wine imports has grown five-fold. The elimination of wine duty has helped Hong Kong become a major wine trading and distribution centre in Asia. The total value of our wine re-exports last year reached about HK$1.7 billion.

     Industry events, such as the Wine and Dine Festival, which was just held last week, and this International Wine & Spirits Fair, have attracted buyers and suppliers from around the world to come to Hong Kong. Whole new business sectors have opened up such as wine storage and wine education and more.

     We have also forged close co-operation with established wine-growing countries around the world to promote their fine products in our region.

     And for those with deep pockets, Hong Kong has emerged as the largest wine auction centre in the world, with total sales amounting to HK$1.2 billion last year.

     Ladies and gentlemen, I hope this demonstrates that fine wine can indeed be good for both the stomach as well as the bank account.

     Here in Asia, we have a fast-growing middle class and one of the world's fastest growing markets for wine. Hong Kong, with its long-established wine culture, prime location and zero-tariff policy, is an ideal place for businesses to tap the product's great potential in Asia.

     This Fair, with its wide variety of events and hundreds of exhibitors from around the world, provides a unique opportunity to discuss future industry trends and do business.

     I wish you all a successful Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair and our visitors a wonderful stay here in Hong Kong.

     Cheers, and to our friends from Spain, Salud!

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Thursday, November 7, 2013
Issued at HKT 12:33


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