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Speech by CS at reception for 20th anniversary of EU Office to Hong Kong and Macao (English only) (with photo)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the reception for the 20th anniversary of the European Union (EU) Office to Hong Kong and Macao this evening (November 22):

President Barroso (President of the European Commission), Commissioner Song (Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the HKSAR), Vincent (Piket) (Head of Office, EU Office to Hong Kong and Macao), honourable Consul Generals, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It is my great pleasure to celebrate with you all the 20th anniversary of the European Union Office in Hong Kong, and in this building, this evening. I would also like to warmly welcome President Barroso to Hong Kong to mark this very special occasion.

     During the past two decades, both Hong Kong and the European Union have experienced many momentous events. The EU Office in Hong Kong has witnessed historic and significant developments of our city, including the reunification of Hong Kong with China and the successful implementation of "One Country, Two Systems". At the same time, the European Union continued to grow and has recently welcomed its 28th member, Croatia, in July this year. Such integration and co-operation among sovereign countries are the first of its kind in the world and unique both in terms of breadth and depth. I congratulate you all on your magnificent achievements.

     Throughout all these years, Hong Kong and the EU have continued to enjoy excellent relations and very close co-operation. Last Thursday, we successfully held our seventh annual Structured Dialogue, an annual meeting between Hong Kong and the EU personally initiated by President Barroso. This Dialogue has further consolidated our understanding and co-operation in a wide range of areas from competition to waste management. Despite the financial turmoil experienced by the EU in recent years, the EU as a whole remains Hong Kong's second largest trading partner after Mainland China, with trade amounting to around HK$638 billion (EUR64 billion) in 2012. Many European brands and products are highly sought after by the people in Hong Kong and the growing number of Mainland visitors to Hong Kong. European countries are of course very popular destinations for our students and holidaymakers. Our connections have never been stronger, as many Hong Kong people have relatives and friends residing, working or studying in the EU.

     I would particularly like to thank Mr Piket for his efforts in promoting numerous forms of exchanges between Hong Kong and the EU. The European Union Academic Programme, for instance, is proving to be very useful in promoting academic co-operation between our two places. In June this year, a group of Hong Kong university students benefited from this programme and were invited to visit the various EU institutions in Brussels. I hope more exchanges in different areas will take place in future.

     Looking ahead, Hong Kong will continue to play an important role in the economic relations between Mainland China and the EU. I would like to invite our European friends from all sectors to continue to capitalise on Hong Kong's special relationship with Mainland China to expand business here, and to make use of the advantages provided by the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. Our Economic and Trade Offices in Europe, of course including the one in Brussels which was established 48 years ago, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Invest Hong Kong will continue to provide assistance to European companies that are interested in doing businesses with Hong Kong and our larger hinterland.

     Let me conclude by expressing my sincere gratitude again to President Barroso for your support in strengthening the Hong Kong-EU relationship over the years. I wish you all an enjoyable evening and would like to propose a toast - to the continued success of the European Union. Cheers.

Ends/Friday, November 22, 2013
Issued at HKT 21:43


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