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Speech by FS at Asian Financial Forum cocktail reception (English only) (with photo/video)

     Following is the speech delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the Asian Financial Forum (AFF) cocktail reception this evening (January 13):

Fred (Executive Director of Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Mr Fred Lam), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening.

     Thank you for joining this Asian Financial Forum cocktail reception.

     The start of a new year is often a time to reflect on the past and look to the future with renewed optimism and confidence. We make resolutions for the New Year, and sometimes we even keep them. We also pay special attention to anniversaries in the year ahead. This year is no exception.

     On this day 50 years ago, American music legend Bob Dylan released an album entitled "The Times They Are a-Changin'". It became one of Dylan's most famous works and reflected the mood of 1960s America.

     Fast forward to the present day and the phrase, "the times they are a-changin'" could relate equally well to the global economic transformation since the 2007 financial crisis.

     Since the first Asian Financial Forum in 2007, this event has served as an effective platform to share information and ideas on how to cope with the recent financial and economic turmoil. The AFF 2014 under the theme "Asia: Powering World Growth" highlights how much our financial times have changed in a relatively short span of just a few years.

     The international financial and economic focus has shifted from the West to Asia and especially to the Mainland of China. This brings me to another significant anniversary that reflects how times are a-changin'.

     A decade ago, in January 2004, Hong Kong launched the first personal offshore Renminbi banking service outside the Mainland of China. It was a relatively small step that went largely unnoticed in the international media. Ten years on, the expansion of offshore Renminbi business has become one of the most significant and far-reaching developments in global finance.

     Hong Kong, with its international connectivity, rule of law and unrestricted capital flows, has been at the forefront of China's currency liberalisation. We shall continue to work with the Central Government in Beijing and with our partners around the world to promote the use of the Renminbi as an international currency for trade, for investment and for wealth management.

     Another sign of our changing financial times is the growing number of high net worth individuals in the Asia Pacific Region. The number reached some 3.7 million in 2012, according to the latest Capgemini survey. That represents an increase of almost 10 per cent year-on-year. Significantly for us, one in every five high net worth individuals in the region is based in either Hong Kong or in the Mainland of China.

     Looking ahead in 2014, offshore Renminbi business and asset management services will continue to provide important opportunities for Hong Kong's development as China's global financial centre.

     I encourage you to take advantage of this year's AFF to learn more about the financial developments in Hong Kong and our region. The booth where I am standing right now is a great showcase for the latest movers and shakers of Hong Kong's financial markets and services sectors. Please also look out for a workshop tomorrow morning titled "Hong Kong: Asia's Premier Asset Management Centre", where our leading financial experts will shed more light on the opportunities in Hong Kong.

     Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to join you this evening and to welcome you all to the AFF 2014. As we embark on a new and exciting journey in the New Year, I would like to share with you some words of wisdom from the great thinker Albert Einstein. He said, and I quote: "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning."

     I wish you all a successful Asian Financial Forum and a hopeful and prosperous year ahead.

     Thank you very much. Have a great evening.

Ends/Monday, January 13, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:55


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