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Speech by Acting CE at Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference (English only) (with photo/video)

     Following is the speech delivered by the Acting Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference today (November 17):

Vincent (Chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Mr Vincent Lo), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. Welcome to the fifth edition of the Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference, the largest event of its kind in Asia. And for a good reason.

     The business pulse of today's global economy continues to beat stronger here in Asia than anywhere else in the world. And for the region's rising economies, it's the power of logistics that smooths their economic integration, that connects them with the rest of the world.

     As management maven Tom Peters once said, "Leaders win through logistics". About the absolute centrality of logistics, Mr Peters had a good deal more to say: "Vision, sure. Strategy, yes. But when you go to war, you need to have both toilet paper and bullets at the right place at the right time."

     This is good wartime advice. An oblique reminder, too, that logistics was born for the battlefield and not the office. Today, of course, the vast majority of our logistics players are fixated on meeting the changing needs of the consumer rather than the soldier.

     Still, whether sustaining armies or driving companies, the practice of logistics calls for much the same strategy: how to get what is needed to where it's needed - systematically, effectively, efficiently and economically.

     In that regard, Hong Kong is doing remarkably well. Not surprising, given that logistics and trading, collectively, are one of our four pillar industries, representing about 24 per cent of Hong Kong's GDP, and employing over 767,000 people and that's exceeding one-fifth of total employment in Hong Kong.

     Of course, when it comes to logistics, Hong Kong has an enviable natural advantage. Call it location, location, location. Within four hours, we can reach all major Asian cities. And half the world's population is no more than five hours away.

     Beyond the geographic aces we were dealt, Hong Kong is blessed with a multitalented and multilingual workforce.

     Thanks to our "one country, two systems" arrangements, Hong Kong is more - much more - than just any Chinese city. "One country" gives us all the benefits that come with being part of the second largest economy in the world.

     And for the "two systems" aspect, it presents distinct characteristics and advantages you won't find anywhere else.

     Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy. We have our own currency, and it's fully convertible. We have an independent judicial system, and our rule of law is well entrenched.

     Along with the world's products, we welcome the world's people and their companies. They come because they can count on a level playing field for business here in Hong Kong. They come because information here in Hong Kong flows as freely as do people and capital.

     All that freedom hasn't gone unnoticed. The Washington-based Heritage Foundation has ranked Hong Kong the world's freest economy for the past 21 years in a row.

     Business wants freedom. Logistics flourishes in it. Consider the Hong Kong International Airport. It's been the world's busiest international cargo airport for more than 15 years. The Airport Councils International has ranked Hong Kong the world's number one cargo hub since 2010. Our air cargo throughput rose 6 per cent, year on year, in 2014, reaching 4.38 million tonnes.

     Our Hong Kong port is no slouch, either. It's consistently among the world's busiest container ports in terms of throughput, with an annual average of about 23 million TEUs a year over the past decade. Some 350 container vessel sailings take place each week to more than 500 destinations around the world.

     Of the world's top 10 ports, seven are in China. That includes, of course, Hong Kong.

     Today, the port of Hong Kong remains one of the world's busiest. Our Shipping Register is the world's fourth largest, its gross tonnage having just crossed 100 million in September.

     Hong Kong companies own or manage about 9 per cent of the world's merchant fleet in deadweight tonnage. Port infrastructure apart, we are also an international maritime services centre flush with more than 700 companies. They offer an exceptional range of maritime services, from ship management and agency, to ship finance, maritime insurance, maritime legal services and arbitration. To upgrade our maritime services, the Government has a role to play: we are in the process of setting up a new maritime body which will have the capacity to undertake policy research and development, pursue marketing and external relations and develop manpower and training.

     We house, as well, the only non-Mainland-based branch office of the China Maritime Arbitration Commission. Its presence in Hong Kong enhances our role in the resolution of maritime disputes, and reinforces our standing as a leading centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region.

     That role will only expand in future, particularly as China's new "Belt and Road" initiative gains traction, and you have heard what Vincent has just said. Indeed, the "Belt and Road" will deliver a wealth of opportunities for Hong Kong, and for all of you here today.

     Given the far-reaching promise of the "Belt and Road" initiative, I'm pleased to note that this conference will devote considerable time, and the expertise of many, to the topic, which will help you seize the opportunities that await the logistics and maritime industries.

     Hong Kong enjoys good connections with many of the "Belt and Road" economies. And you can count on Hong Kong to play a significant role as the "super-connector" between the Mainland and those economies.

     Our commercial experience and logistics expertise will be in demand as the movement of goods and people becomes ever more frequent under the "Belt and Road" initiative.

     Ladies and gentlemen, about 7,900 companies - from the Mainland and from around the world - keep offices in Hong Kong. Some 75 of the world's top 100 banks have operations here. I would say these are all the testimonials we need to find our place in the "Belt and Road"'s fast lane. I invite you, all of you, to join them.

     Finally I just want to say a few words about a campaign that I have launched yesterday, that is called "Appreciate Hong Kong". There are so many things that we, in Hong Kong, should appreciate and should continue to support and the Hong Kong port is one of them.

     I wish you all a rewarding conference. And the best of business in the coming year.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Issued at HKT 10:37


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