PSCIT's speech at opening ceremony of Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce, Industry and Tourism), Mr Philip Yung, at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre today (November 10):

Benjamin (Acting Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Mr Benjamin Chau), Deputy Prime Minister Mr Dejan Židan (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of Slovenia, Mr Dejan Židan), Greg (Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     I am delighted to join you all for the opening ceremony of the ninth Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair. My warmest welcome to many of you who flew from around the world to take part at this annual flagship wine event of Hong Kong.

     This trade fair was first launched in 2008, the year the Government removed the wine duty altogether. It has since witnessed the city's rapid growth into Asia's premier wine hub. Over these years, Hong Kong's total wine imports have more than tripled to a record HK$10.8 billion in 2015.

     Statistics aside, your presence here today is the best proof of our standing position as Asia's wine hub. Today we have exhibitors coming from 36 countries across six continents and the number totals 1 060, three times more than the inaugural turnout in 2008. We are pleased that you value Hong Kong. Our years of hard work in building confidence and providing facilitation for the wine trade are bearing fruit.

     On confidence, our wine storage certification scheme will safeguard the quality of your fine wine in safe custody of professional storage facilities of the city. A wine registration scheme is also in place to assure the authenticity of wine traded here by trusted merchants. The vigilance of our customs authorities in guarding against counterfeit wine in Hong Kong will nip any problem in the bud.

     On facilitation, the absence of a wine duty has proved a formidable force in widening the sourcing net of wine for Hong Kong. Our unique facilitation scheme with the Mainland authorities ensures fastest customs clearance for wine re-exports from Hong Kong into the Mainland through more than 240 ports. Flagship wine events, including this wine fair and the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival just a fortnight ago, gather wine makers, traders, buyers and consumers alike from all over the world, not least the Mainland and the city itself. They are excellent gatherings for everyone to find and exploit business opportunities and enjoy a glass of wine.

     Hong Kong is well positioned to take advantage of the immense business opportunities bubbling in this part of the world. The Asia-Pacific region now accounts for one-tenth of the world's total wine consumption. Mainland China is the fifth largest wine consumption market worldwide and continues to grow strongly. This is reflected in Hong Kong's surging wine re-exports to the Mainland, with a record HK$4 billion last year representing a remarkable growth of 172 per cent year-on-year. Our in-depth cultural understanding of wine and food pairing preferences on the Mainland and in Asia will certainly add great value to your marketing efforts in the region.

     On the home front, Hong Kong's domestic consumer base is becoming ever more sophisticated in wine and culinary appreciation. It is difficult not to be, when you are surrounded by 12 000 restaurants in the city serving the best gourmet food originating from every part of the world. The Michelin Guide and the Hong Kong Tourism Board's Best of the Best Culinary Awards list are excellent starting points for locals and visitors alike to explore our wonderful cuisines across a wide price range. Your wines will happily find delectable companions in the culinary capital that is Hong Kong.

     With such solid foundation of a wine hub, today we once again gather at this wonderful fair as partners and friends. We will explore opportunities together, share stories and intelligence, and, most importantly, enjoy wine in company. I wish you all success at the wine fair, and an unforgettable stay in Hong Kong, as always. Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, November 10, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:05