Speech by FS at cocktail reception of Asian Financial Forum 2016 (English only) (with photo/video)

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the cocktail reception of Asian Financial Forum (AFF) 2016 tonight (January 18):

Helen (Chairperson of the AFF Steering Committee, Ms Helen Wong), ladies and gentlemen,

     Good Evening.  

     We're here, to bring the first day of the 2016 Asian Financial Forum to a fitting and temporary curtain-closer: with some nice wine, some good food, and of course, old friends and new acquaintances.

     It has been a great day, indeed full of insight and full of intelligence flowing, non-stop, from some of the world's most prominent economists as well as financial and business professionals under the theme of "Asia: Shaping the New Paradigm for Growth."

     This year, more than 2,600 government officials, investors, academics, top management of multinational corporations, as well as 500 journalists from all corners of the world are attending the AFF. You see quite a huge number here right in front of us.

     Indeed, the AFF is, at the moment, the galaxy of stars in the financial and business world.  

     Talking about the galaxy, I hope that you have all enjoyed the latest episode of Star Wars as much as I did.  

     Obviously, the Economist did that as well, and that weighty newspaper pronounced the Star Wars galaxy is, and I quote, "both technologically advanced and economically stagnant."

     And doesn't it sound a lot like the present world íV Earth, circa January 2016?

     In its smartly penned essay, titled "Wookienomics," The Economist celebrated "the value of freer trade" as one of the lessons that it picked up from watching the first six episodes of the starry saga.

     You can learn that valuable lesson in real life, right here in Hong Kong íV and you don't exactly need 13 hours of stargazing to understand the whole story and how things work.  

     Hong Kong has been named by the Heritage Foundation, the Fraser Institute, and many other renowned international organisations as the freest economy in the world.  

     Our transparent and fair market, our extensive trading network, robust legal system as well as the low and simple tax regime make us the ideal base for businesses wishing to tap the ever-expanding Asian market.  It's no surprise Hong Kong is now home to nearly 8,000 overseas and Mainland firms.

     Hong Kong's unique role as the regional trading hub connecting Asia with the rest of the world is at the heart of what we bring to the world economy.  

     So, too, are our world-class financial services.   You can find those, nicely summarised, on the wall here in the Hong Kong booth.

     Let me just say that we topped the world last year in IPOs, and we're the world's leading offshore Renminbi hub.  And when it comes to asset management, Hong Kong is also the biggest centre in Asia.

     And there's much more on Hong Kong's financial horizon, including corporate treasury services.  More and more companies, engaging in cross-border commerce, set up their corporate treasury centres right here in Hong Kong. We call them CTCs.

     Hong Kong gives corporate treasurers what they need. We have superb financial, banking and professional services, as well as deep capital markets for liquidity and portfolio management.

     And in my Budget last year, among other things, I decided to introduce more incentives for qualifying CTCs, based here in Hong Kong, in the form of interest deduction and concessionary profits tax rate.  It's all part of our CTC welcome mat.

     It's designed to help all the multinational enterprises doing business in the region.  Our goal is to make them more efficient íV primed to flourish in business here in Asia and around the world.  

     That has to be good for freer trade, for the economic future of Planet Earth and tomorrow's galactic economy, in which I am sure Hong Kong is set to play a pioneering role in our very own Millennium Falcon that is set to take off.  

     Ladies and gentlemen, I know you will enjoy the rest of the evening íV and day two of the Asian Financial Forum.

     So finally may the force be with you, and your business, your family in the coming year.  Thank you.

Ends/Monday, January 18, 2016
Issued at HKT 21:22