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Speech by FS at opening ceremony of Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this morning (November 6):

Margaret (Fong), Your Excellences, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning.

     Few events put me in a happier mood than the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, now in its seventh year.

     Like a fine wine, this fair has matured brilliantly, thanks to TDC and the industry this show supports so well.

     But more than an industry, this international gathering reflects Hong Kong at its finest. Even as our debate on constitutional development continues, Hong Kong continues to do what it does so well: creating opportunities and trading with a world of business. This shows our unfailing commitments to our business partners as well as our reliability and our resilience.

     It helps that Hong Kong is a free port; that we are blessed with first-class infrastructure and the fast and efficient flow of goods.

     That certainly includes the flow of wine. In 2008, we did away, once and for all, with all wine duties, and a waiting industry just exploded before our eyes. Not unlike the popping of a pent-up bottle of champagne. Make that a magnum.

     In September, I witnessed the signing of a customs agreement with Mainland China. The agreement, I am pleased to tell you, is exclusive to Hong Kong. It guarantees that wine shipped to the Mainland through Hong Kong will be cleared immediately. The wine will not be required to be cleared again by the Mainland Customs. That means that your Bordeaux or spumante shipment now fills your Mainland customer's glass much faster, saving you time and money. Call it a win-win for wine.

     The agreement also reinforces Hong Kong's position as the gateway to the Mainland.

     Indeed, our wine re-exports to the Mainland exceeded US$100 million last year. That was two and a half times more than the amount we had in 2008 - underlining once again Hong Kong's regional wine hub role.

     And we do more than get your wine into China. We add value to it. For good reason: the Mainland consumers simply trust wine imports from Hong Kong.

     Still with trust, our Quality Assurance Agency, which accredits our cellars on their trustworthiness and reliability, has also rolled out a labelling scheme for wine, putting a welcome spotlight on wine coming from reliable sources, like Hong Kong.

     There is more to tell. And more to come. But I think it is time now to pop the cork on this year's wine and spirits fair. Enjoy and explore. Thank you very much. Have a great day. Hopefully you will also shop a lot in Hong Kong. Thank you very much.

Ends/Thursday, November 6, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:32


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