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Speech by CE at Business of Design Week 2013 opening ceremony (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech delivered by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the opening ceremony of Business of Design Week 2013 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre today (December 5):

Victor (Lo) (Chairman of the Hong Kong Design Centre), Your Majesty (Queen Mathilde of Belgium), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. It's a great pleasure for me to join you for the opening ceremony of this year's Business of Design Week (BODW). Now in its 12th year, BODW is better than ever in connecting friends from near and far - to exchange views on the latest global design trends and explore business opportunities. A very warm welcome to you all.

     We are particularly honoured by the presence of Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians. Each year, BODW features a partner country and this year it is Belgium. I would like to take this opportunity to wish Her Majesty and the Belgian delegation a very enjoyable stay in Hong Kong. We look forward to seeing the best of Belgian design, fashion and architecture at BODW under the theme "Belgian Spirit". Similar to world-famous Belgian chocolates and beer, the "Belgian Spirit" brings to BODW the country's own unique flavour which extends well beyond the taste buds.

     Since 2002, BODW has itself become a strong international brand as an important gathering for the design industry in Asia. Last year BODW attracted over 100,000 participants from more than 40 countries and gained wide international media coverage. With over 100 renowned speakers bringing their own business and cultural perspectives to BODW, the week-long programme is sure to have a positive and long-lasting impact on all participants again this year.

     Your participation is also an indication of the international design industry's strong interest in Asia and confidence in Hong Kong to connect people and ideas in an open and creative environment. Hong Kong has evolved as a place where global perspectives from East and West converge in Asia. This is what makes Hong Kong different and creative. We also have a highly open economy with free flows of money, ideas and information. We have the rule of law, a robust intellectual property protection regime and a low and simple tax system. All this makes Hong Kong a super-connector linking the Mainland of China to the rest of the world and bringing a world of ideas to China.

     Hong Kong serves as a showcase in Asia for the latest local and international fashion and design. Although we are a relatively small city of 7 million people, we received almost 50 million visitors last year, including nearly 35 million from the Mainland of China. Many of our visitors come to shop, especially at this time of the year. We do not have tax refund counters in the airport or the train stations, I'm afraid, because in the first place we don't charge sales tax. Most of the goods we sell are not made in Hong Kong. They are not even made by Hong Kong elsewhere. They are just sold by Hong Kong. We sell them and sell them well because of the confidence tourists have in our shops. Our tourists who are your customers are your best promoters when they go home. Therefore, if foreign products, brands and designs are well received in Hong Kong they will most likely be well received in the whole of China. And this is a market with 1.3 billion potential customers.

     The Hong Kong Government attaches great importance to promoting local innovation and design as well as nurturing Hong Kong as a creative hub. Our cultural and creative industries are growing rapidly, registering double-digit growth since 2008, outpacing overall economic growth. In the past five years, the Government has set aside close to US$100 million to fund various initiatives that support the development of our creative economy. We are also keen to promote Hong Kong design overseas. With support from our friends in Belgium, we sponsored young designers from Hong Kong to participate in the Brussels Design September this year. We will continue to reach out to different parts of the world to showcase Hong Kong's remarkable design talent and we welcome with open arms creative minds to come to Hong Kong.

     Ladies and gentlemen, similar to most successful brands, BODW has been built up with hard work, creative thinking and wonderful support and co-operation from our friends around the world. I thank our hosts, the Hong Kong Design Centre, as well as our co-organisers, sponsors, supporting organisations and partner countries, past and present, for helping to make BODW such as great occasion for the design industry.

     I wish you all a very enjoyable and successful BODW 2013 and I encourage you all to do plenty of Christmas shopping.

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, December 5, 2013
Issued at HKT 11:50


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