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PSCIT's speech at Gala Wine Dinner of Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce, Industry and Tourism), Mr Andrew Wong, at the Gala Wine Dinner of the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair tonight (November 6):

Margaret (Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), Ms Margaret Fong), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening.

     I am delighted to join you for this year's Gala Wine Dinner. Food and wine menus have come a long way from the wine-and-cheese pairings of Neolithic sheep herders. A good distance, too, from the wine-and-cheese parties of my college days.

     The passionate business of politics continues to occupy our days and nights. As you well know. This evening, however, is a gala reminder that wine is also a passionate business. A passionate pleasure, too, as this evening's theme - "Vineyard Wonderland" - makes clear.  

     The HKTDC's International Wine & Spirits Fair is a wonder in itself, enjoying the ever-increasing support of wine traders, lovers and aficionados from all over the world. This annual gathering follow closely another key event on the Hong Kong wine calendar, the Wine and Dine Festival, which was successfully held last week with a record turnout.

     And, when it comes to wine, is there a more fitting word than "wonderland" for Hong Kong? Asia's wine trading and logistics capital. The world's largest wine-auction centre. And all without a single vineyard to our name.

     To be sure, ours is not a wonderland fixed on fantasy, but a business built on hard, smart work. On vision and imagination. On that remarkable Hong Kong gift and "can do" spirit for finding opportunity, seizing it and making it ours.

     It helps, of course, that the groundwork has been laid, the infrastructure put in place. I am talking about our zero wine duty, our highly efficient logistics, trusted customs, professional - and passionate - workforce, and much more.

     No less important, the road from "Wonderland" leads directly to the Promised Land.

     Forecasts tell us that wine sales in Mainland China will rise by as much as two-thirds over the next couple of years. And the Mainland appetite for wine is expected to expand by more than 30 per cent by 2017.

     All very good reasons to savour the fizz in your flute. A toast to Hong Kong's wine success and this wonderful evening.
     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, November 6, 2014
Issued at HKT 21:02


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