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Speech by FS at Hong Kong Monetary Authority Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office Launch Reception (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office Launch Reception today (July 4):

Vice Chairman Chen (Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Mr Chen Yuan), President Jin (President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Mr Jin Liqun), Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon.

     We are here today to celebrate the opening of the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office. Or as Norman (the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Mr Norman Chan) has just mentioned, we call it the IFFO.

     We are here to celebrate too, of course, the enormous potential and the enormous business opportunities presented by the visionary Belt and Road Initiative spearheaded by the Mainland of China.

     I announced the setting up of IFFO in my annual government budget delivered in February this year. We came up with that idea because infrastructure investment is at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative, and we see a genuine need, as well as a golden opportunity, for a dedicated platform to support the financing of infrastructure and other projects along the Belt and Road corridors.

     As the global economic centre of gravity shifts gradually towards the East in recent years, the emerging markets along the Belt and Road corridors are now playing a much more important and much more influential role in the global economy.

     IMF (International Monetary Fund) predicts that emerging and developing Asia will contribute about 60 per cent of the world's GDP growth this year, and the Mainland will continue to be a driving force of the global economy.

     The continued urbanisation along the Belt and Road corridors as well as the expanding middle class in the economies in East Asia and the entire Asian region will propel investment through infrastructure construction as well as home building.

     As the Belt-Road initiative finds traction, we expect to see more and more infrastructure projects, in the form of railways, highways, ports, power plants, dams and much more, going forward.

     Indeed, the Asian Development Bank has estimated Asia's overall infrastructure investment needs at US$800 billion a year until 2020.

     With our unparalleled ties with the Mainland, our ready access to Asian markets, as well as our wide-ranging prowess as the regional international financial centre, I believe that no economy is better placed than Hong Kong to serve as the centre for fundraising, for project financing and asset management for these big-ticket items.

     Hong Kong currently runs one of the largest stock exchanges in the world. Last year, our stock market ranked first overall in equity funds raised through IPOs. We are also the world's largest offshore hub for Renminbi business.

     And according to the UN (United Nations World) Investment Report 2016, Hong Kong continues to rank second, only to the US, in global foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows. Our FDI inflows in 2015 amounted to US$175 billion, a year-on-year increase of 53.5 per cent.

     In short, Hong Kong is a magnet for overseas capital from around the world looking to take advantage of the unprecedented business opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative and developing Asia.

     We believe that with IFFO, we can fortify our strong relations with the key players in infrastructure financing, people like yourselves here today, in developing Hong Kong into a major centre for infrastructure financing.

     The IFFO will make that happen through capacity building, through exchange of market information and through the gathering of stakeholders.

     I am pleased that, to date, about 40 major banks, investors, project developers and professional service firms from the Mainland, from Hong Kong as well as from overseas have given their support to IFFO, joining as our business partners.

     There's an old Chinese saying that success depends on "天時、地利、人和". Roughly translated, it means that success depends on choosing the right time, the right place and the right people. I have every confidence that with IFFO and all your support, we have all the boxes ticked for continued success down the Belt and Road.

     Thank you very much and have a good day.

Ends/Monday, July 4, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:44


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