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Speech by FS at Hong Kong Awards for Industries Awards Presentation Ceremony-cum-Gala Dinner (English only)(with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the Hong Kong Awards for Industries (HKAI) Awards Presentation Ceremony-cum-Gala Dinner this evening (December 14):

Joseph (Professor Joseph Sung), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening.

     It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you tonight, here to honour this year's outstanding industrialists and entrepreneurs. Yes, this much-anticipated evening is night of the Oscars, one of Hong Kong industry's flagship annual events for more than a quarter of a century now.

     Over the years, HKAI winners have excelled in just about every aspect of industry, from product and machinery design to customer service, innovation and productivity, technological advancement and business upgrading. Not to mention making money, the most important aspect of all.

     In celebrating individual achievements, we are here tonight also to pay tribute to our manufacturing and services industries as well as to the companies and individuals who drive them. Who make them productive, who make them profitable, players in today's fast-changing global economy. Their passion and commitment to achieve excellence are indeed crucial for sustaining Hong Kong's success and bringing it to new heights.

     The Government, on the other hand, is also committed to enhancing the competitiveness of local industries, helping them, and helping you, to secure global business opportunities.

     We are stepping up our efforts, in particular those that serve to support the SMEs, given the bleak outlook of international trade in the near term, with demand of the advanced economies faltering and export-dependent Asia showing an almost across-the-board slowdown.

     The SME Export Marketing Fund, which helps SMEs expand their business through export promotion activities such as trade exhibitions, went one step further in September this year. The Fund now covers export promotion activities conducted through electronic media as well. The intent is to encourage SMEs to embrace the promises of e-commerce.

     We have also extended the application period of special concessionary measures under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme to the end of February 2016. The programme helps companies get loans in the commercial market.

     Then there's the $1 billion Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales that we call the BUD Fund. The Fund helps companies expand their business in the Mainland. In August, the Government introduced the "ESP Easy - Simplified Application Track" to make getting funding even faster and even easier.

     In August, as well, the maximum grant per approved project under the SME Development Fund was raised from HK$2 million to HK$5 million. The increase should help non-profit-distributing organisations implement larger-scale projects. That can only enhance SME's competitiveness.

     And, in April of this year, financial support for R&D activities under the Enterprise Support Scheme of the Innovation and Technology Fund increased up to $10 million per project.

     These and other government initiatives will help sharpen the competitive edge of your company, and I urge you to take good advantage of them.

     Beyond innovation and upgrading, the Mainland's continuing economic development also drives our industrial success.

     The good news here is the visionary and far-reaching "Belt and Road" initiative, championed by President Xi, which promises to boost the trade and economic ties among some 60 plus economies spanning Asia, Europe and Africa.

     In this, few economies have more to offer, or more to gain, than Hong Kong. We are, after all, uniquely powered by the twin engines of our "one country, two systems" arrangement with the Mainland.

     To ensure that Hong Kong finds its place in the massive "Belt and Road" markets, we are forging closer connections and strengthening collaboration with economies along the "Belt and Road". That means pursuing agreements to promote trade, to protect investment, and avoid double taxation and more.

     My thanks to the organising committee of the Hong Kong Awards for Industries. My thanks, as well, to the sponsors, media partners, supporting organisations and judges for their superlative work, for making this year's Hong Kong Awards for Industries a memorable success.

     I know you will enjoy this very special evening. And I wish you all the best of industry and health in the coming year.

     Thank you very much and have a great evening.

Ends/Monday, December 14, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:50


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