Speech by SCED at business seminar on creative industries in London (English only) (with photo)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at a business seminar on creative industries at the Design Museum in London, the United Kingdom (UK) today (May 20, London time):

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon!  It gives me great pleasure to join you all today at the Design Museum, one of the world's leading museums devoted to contemporary design.

     London and Hong Kong may be thousands of miles apart, but the two cities share many similarities.  Both cities have a strong banking sector and a deep pool of expertise in business and finance, but we both are much more than just places for doing business.  While Hong Kong may not yet have London's range of cultural activities, we do have a very vibrant cultural scene and a cosmopolitan society that is fully engaged in the city's development.  Much like London, Hong Kong celebrates excellence and embraces creativity.
     Indeed, the business of arts and culture is growing quietly, rapidly in our unique corner of China.  There are over 41 000 creative and cultural enterprises in Hong Kong employing some 213 000 creative talents.  In 2014, our creative economy generated value added of nearly HK$110 billion (GBP 9.7 billion), which accounted for about 5.0 per cent of our GDP.  This also represents an average annual growth of 8.6 per cent over the past decade, which is more than three percentage point above the annual growth rate of our overall economy.

     These are promising statistics, but we cannot simply put a price tag on the intangible contributions of creative and cultural industries, or talk in terms of numbers alone.

     People around the world want to practise martial arts like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen or watch Chow Yun-fat, Maggie Cheung and Michelle Yeoh at the movies.  Animators want to emulate Raman Hui's success in films such as Antz and Shrek. Trendsetters want to wear the latest fashions from Vivienne Tam or get inspiration from Eric Chan's creative genius.  You may ask, what makes Hong Kong's creative industries tick?

     Although we are a relatively small city of seven million people, we punch above our weight through our creative industries.  Hong Kong has evolved as the place where East converges with the West.  This is what makes Hong Kong different and creative.  We also have an open economy with free flows of money, ideas and information.  The rule of law, a robust intellectual property protection regime and a low and simple taxation system offer unparallelled advantages to Hong Kong which has developed itself as a place for brewing creative ideas and turning them into businesses.

     Frankly speaking, our competitors in the region have tried to emulate the success formula with varied degrees of success.  However, we are confident about the growth potential of our creative economy.  For one thing, Hong Kong plays an indispensable role as one of the most important business platforms in the world for creative industries.  Hong Kong has for decades played a "super-connector" role in linking the Mainland of China to the rest of the world and bringing a world of ideas and a wealth of creative thinking to China.  Thanks to this very unique positioning, Hong Kong provides an ideal business environment for overseas enterprises and serves as the key conduit to the flourishing Mainland China market.

     The recent establishment of a China-US consortium headquartered in Hong Kong is a testament to the strategic importance of our city as a "super-connector" between the Mainland and the rest of the world.  In September last year, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and China Media Capital announced the setting up of the Flagship Entertainment Group Limited for film production and distribution on a global basis.  Obviously, the major players of the entertainment industries of China and US both see unique advantages of Hong Kong, which include our filmmaking talent, market expertise and well-developed legal and financial systems.

     Aside from having one of the most dynamic film industries in the world, Hong Kong also has a very vibrant design sector.  The value added of the design sector increased by over 300 per cent from 2005 to 2014.  In recent years, the design sector outpaced all other creative sectors in terms of the increase in the number of jobs and establishments.  

     We are particularly proud of our annual signature event - Business of Design Week (BODW), which serves as a knowledge sharing and business networking platform in the design field.  The week-long programme consists of design-related conferences, forums, awards presentation, exhibitions, outreach program, gala dinner and other networking gatherings.  It annually attracts over 100 000 design professionals, educators, users, students and enthusiasts from different parts of the world to Hong Kong for networking and exploring business opportunities, as well as sharing insights and experience in a diverse range of design fields.  BODW has now become the largest annual design event in Asia and one of the leading design events in the world.  Simply put, BODW has itself become a strong international brand as an annual not-to-be-missed fixture on the international design calendar.

     So much for film and design.  Hong Kong's architecture sector has also in recent years registered significant growth owing to the fast expanding market in the Mainland, as well as Hong Kong's deepening collaboration with overseas partners.  From 2005 to 2014, the value added of the architecture sector has increased drastically by 250 per cent.  We are eager to help bring the best of Hong Kong's architecture to the world.  In 2014, the Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA) staged an exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to showcase some of the winning architectural projects by Hong Kong architects in the past 50 years.  We hope that more collaboration projects of this nature will strengthen the ties between Hong Kong and UK in creative industries.

     Looking forward, we have set our sights on fashion as one of the new engines for propelling the growth of Hong Kong's creative industries.  Many Hong Kong fashion designers have successfully created their own brands in the Mainland, Southeast Asia and the international markets.  We attach great importance to the development of the fashion industry.  Promoting local fashion designers and brands and nurturing fashion design start-ups will be our priorities in the next few years.  We are eager to draw experience from other fashion capitals such as London, which has a prestigious position in the global fashion market.

     Ladies and gentlemen, Hong Kong is much more than a business and financial centre.  Our history as a free-thinking city with free flows of people and ideas and a cultural mix of Chinese and Western influences make us an ideal creative hub in the region.  And Hong Kong has what you need as a strategic partner as you venture into markets of Mainland China and the far-east countries.  We offer unique advantages like no other cities in the world, and those advantages will become even more important as China rolls out its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

     The Belt and Road plan has been designed to drive economic and cultural connectivity among some 60-plus economies spanning Asia, Africa and Europe.  In this far-reaching initiative, Hong Kong will have a key role to play.  As Mainland and overseas companies boost their business collaboration, Hong Kong will be the first port of call they turn to for design services and strategic branding.  

     On that note, I look forward to more collaboration and partnership opportunities between Hong Kong and UK in creative industries.  Hong Kong is ready to make good use of our unique advantages to facilitate your journey into the far-east and Belt and Road.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Friday, May 20, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:02