SCED's speech at roundtable seminar on IP trading in Moscow (English only)(with photo)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at a roundtable seminar on intellectual property (IP) trading organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council in Moscow today (March 16, Moscow time):

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. I am delighted to be in Moscow, one of the world's great cities. Hong Kong and Russia have been firmly connected for many years. We are connected by trade; we are connected by modern telecommunications; and we are connected by international finance. And given the tremendous growth of the Russian and Chinese economies, we are increasingly connected by new opportunities.

     In the next few minutes, I will talk about some of these opportunities and why we believe Hong Kong is Russia's best business partner in Asia. In particular, I will focus on Hong Kong's potential as a hub for IP trading and management.

     IP trading is a topic that is close and dear to my heart, because I believe IP will play a critical role in enabling international trade, investment and innovation. Today, IP in the form of patents, copyright, trademarks, design, trade secrets and much more, inspire business and drive economic expansion, promoting an environment in which creativity and innovation can thrive. IP has a soaring value to the global economy, and is changing the rules of competition and survival of today's commercial world. Businesses worldwide are proactively trading intangible knowledge across economies to drive growth.

     The implications of IP for Asia are particularly enticing, given the continuing economic shift from West to East. The Mainland of China is a case in point. With its economy now among the world's largest, its place as a major user, purchaser, generator and seller of IP will only continue to grow. Since 2012, the Mainland of China has filed more patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other major IP rights than any other economy in the world.

     Hong Kong is well-positioned to play a crucial role in this trend of IP trading, as in previous transformations. Let's just say that we have a knack for riding global economic tides. Hong Kong today is flourishing as a trading hub and "super-connector" between the Mainland and the rest of the world. With our sound financial and legal systems, low tax regime and world-class service industries, Hong Kong is well poised to embrace the immense business opportunities brought about by IP. For example, we may offer the Mainland of China and overseas players an expanding range of IP intermediary services, from IP agencies and management to consulting, legal and alternative dispute resolution services, due diligence, and more.

     Over the years, we have accumulated much experience in cross-border IP transactions, and have become a regional marketplace and service centre for activities ranging from copyright trading and licensing and franchising to design services and technology transfer. Increasingly, we serve as the intermediary between overseas buyers and sellers of IP and their partners in the Asian region.

     Hong Kong is also an IP sourcing centre, thanks in part to our high-profile trade shows, many of which are run by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which helped us pull together this roundtable today. Apart from our world-renowned trade shows, it helps, too, that we are blessed with a deep pool of experienced, multilingual IP professionals. Through Hong Kong, overseas IP can be customised to suit the specific needs of Mainland buyers. With the Mainland's own IP rapidly expanding, we are helping their owners find global markets as well.

     And that means opportunities for Russian companies too. Yes, our service providers in Hong Kong can help you manage, market and sell your intellectual property - in the Mainland and beyond.

     With all these opportunities waiting, the challenges ahead are how to ensure society can benefit from IP exploitation. The Hong Kong Government is committed to developing Hong Kong into a premier IP trading hub, just as we have gone a long way flourishing in trade in goods and trade in services. We strive to be a hub for co-ordinating IP business activities in such areas as marketing, sourcing, agency and other support and intermediary services.

     To forge ahead, I have been chairing a Working Group on IP Trading since March of 2013. We have been exploring specific policies and other support measures that would bring our offerings in the IP realm to a new height. In a nutshell, we are building an ecosystem in which overseas and local entrepreneurs can meet, discover synergies and access markets, capital and talents together.

     Allow me to give you a few examples of action already underway:

     First, we work hard to strengthen our IP regime. We are pushing a bill through the legislature to update our copyright regime. In addition, we are preparing a bill to introduce the "original grant" patent system to Hong Kong. In trademarks, we are consulting the public on the merits of introducing the Madrid Protocol.

     Second, we support IP creation and exploitation. We are offering more funding support to promote R&D (research and development) activities in the private and public sectors. We are taking measures to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in raising their awareness of IP, as well as developing more effective IP management and commercialisation capabilities.

     Third, we foster IP intermediary services and manpower capacity. We are supporting the development of IP valuation reporting standards and highlighting IP as a specialty area serviced by our arbitral and mediation bodies. We will also help SMEs exploit IP effectively by means of running and sponsoring training courses in IP related subjects.

     Fourth, we pursue promotion, education and collaboration efforts. One initiative is from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. They launched the Asia IP Exchange about a year ago to enhance Hong Kong's online IP trading volume, capabilities and connections. Now, it provides more than 25 000 IP listings and connects with 28 strategic partners internationally and locally. Another example is the Business of IP Asia Forum, our flagship event for IP business. The Forum has grown in scale and stature since its inauguration in 2011. In 2014, we have over 2 000 participants and distinguished speakers coming over from more than 15 countries across the globe.

     The measures that I have mentioned are just part of the progress that we have made so far. We will continue to strengthen our support for IP trading in Hong Kong.

     Ladies and gentlemen, we are firmly committed to making Hong Kong the IP business and trading hub of Asia. We want to attract enterprises around the world to transact their IP business, and we want to attract specialised professional services to cluster and flourish in support. We will spare no efforts in empowering businesses, intermediaries, and society as a whole, to reap the full benefits.

     It is always the bold entrepreneur who blazes the trail. In the past decade or so, a few bold Russians have come to Hong Kong, and a few trailblazers from Hong Kong have invested in Russia. Now is an opportune time for a bigger second wave, in the form of IP business. I invite you to come to Hong Kong and see for yourselves what can be accomplished. Let us all work together in this "game-changer" to stay ahead of the competitive curve.

     Thank you.

Ends/Monday, March 16, 2015
Issued at HKT 21:57