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Unleashing Hong Kong's economic potential is key: CE

     The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, in his Policy Address today (January 15) said the Government would focus on promoting economic development as a foundation for overcoming challenges in society and unleashing Hong Kong's full potential.

     "We should capitalise on, consolidate and enhance our existing advantages, strengthen co-operation with the Mainland and overseas economies in every aspect, and foster diversity and robust growth in our industries," Mr Leung said.

     To promote regional co-operation, Mr Leung said the Government would consider opening more Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs) in Asia.

     He also said Hong Kong has secured the consent of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to commence formal negotiations for a Hong Kong-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement early this year.

     A new Hong Kong ETO is due to open in Wuhan in the Mainland's central region in the second quarter of this year, strengthening the existing network that includes bases in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Beijing.

     "The Government will set up more liaison units so that each Mainland office will be linked with one or two liaison units," the Chief Executive said.

     Mr Leung said the Economic Development Commission (EDC), the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC) and the Consultative Committee on Economic and Trade Co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland are working at full speed.

     The FSDC has submitted its first set of reports to the Government. The reports discuss in detail Hong Kong's future positioning and strategic development as an international financial centre and put forward proposals in respect of Renminbi business, asset and wealth management and real estate investment trusts.

     For professional services, the EDC's Working Group on Professional Services has made proposals that cover five main themes:

* Promote liberalisation of professional services by securing more liberalisation measures and concluding more free trade agreements;

* Promote alignment of the professional systems of the Mainland and Hong Kong;

* Strengthen competitiveness and enhance brand building of Hong Kong's professional services;

* Assist Hong Kong's professional services sector to explore business opportunities overseas and access emerging markets and key economies; and

* Foster the comprehensive development of cross-sectoral professional services and examine the feasibility of providing resource support and advisory services at strategic footholds all over the world.

     He said the Government was drafting new legislation to set up a Travel Industry Authority.

     "The Government attaches great importance to the reputation of the tourism sector," said Mr Leung.

     "We must expand our receiving capacity, focusing on high-spending visitors, to achieve the greatest economic benefits with limited resources.

     "We must also take appropriate and effective steps to ensure that the daily lives of our people will not be affected," he added.

     He said the commissioning of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge by 2016 would present tourism and other economic opportunities for Lantau Island.

     The Government will establish a Lantau Development Advisory Committee and study the possibility of building more hotels and leisure tourism facilities on Lantau as well as at the artificial island site of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF), which spans some 130 hectares.

     "With its proximity to the HKIA (Hong Kong International Airport), it (HKBCF) will serve as a gateway between Hong Kong and western PRD (Pearl River Delta) and will take on great value as a 'bridgehead economy'," Mr Leung said.

     "The Government will explore ways to further develop the eastern waters off Lantau Island and neighbouring areas, with a view to developing an East Lantau Metropolis for accommodating new population.

     "It will become a core business district in addition to Central and Kowloon East for promoting economic development and providing job opportunities."

     Mr Leung said the Government attached great importance to fostering innovation and technology industries.

     He has decided to re-initiate the setting up of an Innovation and Technology Bureau and work with various sectors to formulate the objectives and policies for developing innovation and technology. He earnestly hopes that it will receive support from the Legislative Council.

     He also said the Government would work out the details of setting up a new statutory maritime body to develop Hong Kong's competitive edge for high value-added maritime services.

     "Hong Kong ranks highly in global competitiveness and benefits from the many opportunities flowing from economic development in the Asia-Pacific region, the preferential treatment accorded by our country and the momentum provided by the Mainland's rapid development," Mr Leung said.

     He said the Government had started preparations for the National 13th Five-Year Plan. "We have initially identified some issues for study and will submit them to the National Development and Reform Commission for consideration after consulting the relevant sectors and committees," Mr Leung said.

Ends/Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:14


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