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PSCIT's speech at Gala Wine Dinner of Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair 2013 (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce, Industry and Tourism), Mr Andrew Wong, at the Gala Wine Dinner of the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair 2013 tonight (November 7):

Fred (Lam) (Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council), Mr López-Nadal (Consul-General of Spain in Hong Kong), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening.

     Bienvenido (meaning "welcome" in Spanish) to our friends from Spain - our partner country for this year's Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair.

     I am delighted to join you all for this year's Gala Wine Dinner under the theme: Winds from Spain.

     Spain produces some of the world's most popular wine, and also more wine than most other places. The value of our Spanish wine imports has increased 345 per cent since Hong Kong did away with wine duty in 2008. Last year, we imported US$13 million worth of wine from Spain.

     Thanks to our zero-duty policy, there is no extra cost for wines to flow into Hong Kong. Wine importing into this wine hub are as natural as winds blowing here. And we create opportunities for these wines, bringing them to where the demand lies.

     According to the International Wine and Spirits Research, commonly known as the IWSR, China has emerged as the world's fastest-growing wine market. Chinese wine consumption leapt by 142 per cent from 2007 to 2011, making China the world's fifth largest wine-consuming nation. Every Chinese adult drank 1.4 litres of wines per year.

     That did not compare yet with the per-capita figure of 5.3 litres in Hong Kong, but the IWSR was telling us that the Mainland China wine market would grow as much as 40 per cent between 2012 and 2016.

     One point more revealing from the IWSR's findings is that only 20 per cent of the volume of wines drunk on the Mainland was imported. Others were produced locally. Where else is better and closer than Hong Kong to meet the growing demand of the Mainland China wine market?

     In Hong Kong, wines are welcome from all over the world, from the largest producing countries like France, Italy and Spain as well as the "New World", to relatively new players on the international stage like Jordan, Lithuania, Montenegro and Morocco. All are represented here this year in one of the largest and best organised wine exhibitions in Asia.

     There is a Spanish proverb which says, and I quote: "With bread and wine you can walk your road". End quote. We have plenty of bread, wine and much more this evening to help us walk the road of partnership together.

     I understand that many of you have a long day of business today. I wish you all an enjoyable and memorable evening of great food and wine, wonderful entertainment and warm hospitality here in Asia's world city.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Thursday, November 7, 2013
Issued at HKT 21:24


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