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Speech by SCED at gala dinner of Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair (English only)
     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the gala dinner of the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre today (November 10):

Deputy Prime Minister Mr Dejan Židan (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of Slovenia, Mr Dejan Židan), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Dober večer. Good evening.

     First of all, let me welcome you all to this wonderful gala dinner of the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, especially our friends from Slovenia.

     Tonight, we are very fortunate to have with us the Deputy Prime Minister of Slovenia as well as fabulous bottles from his home country. I have been told Slovenia is home to some 28 000 wineries, and fine wine accounts for 70 per cent of its total wine production. And yet, we do not see Slovenian wines as often as we would like. Word on the street is that Slovenians love their wines so much that 90 per cent of Slovenian wine ends up in their own tummies. So I appeal to the Deputy Prime Minister to allow more Slovenian wine to grace our tables in future, for sharing is caring.

     Luckily, we are still able to taste Slovenian wine and other best kept secrets at the wine fair today. I am pleased that for the second year in a row, we have over 1 000 exhibitors joining us. And just two weeks ago, we successfully held our largest yet Wine & Dine Festival at the Central Harbourfront, attracting over 140 000 visitors, local and overseas.

     Indeed, we boast a strong wine culture all year round. Since we did away with wine duty in 2008, we have seen incessant inflow of wine from over 50 regions and countries around the world. Last year Hong Kong imported HK$10.8 billion worth of wine, some 12 times more than that of 10 years ago.

     Local consumption aside, we also pride ourselves as the regional wine trading and distribution centre. The value of our wine re-export to the Mainland was a record HK$4 billion last year, an impressive 31-fold increase in a decade's time. Our customs facilitation scheme has been expanded to cover 240 Mainland ports since last year, and I encourage all of you to take advantage of the unique instant Mainland customs clearance as you bring your bottles into the Mainland through Hong Kong.

     Hong Kong is also a natural springboard to the wider Asia-Pacific wine market and strategically positioned to add great value to your marketing efforts. I am confident that Hong Kong is the place for your vintages to be truly appreciated by both connoisseurs and traders, especially with the exquisite culinary fare and can-do business spirit we have in store.

     Ladies and gentlemen, Hong Kong continues to bring great market opportunities to the wine trade through our hub. This wine fair as Asia's finest will be rewarding to you all.

     And for now, bon appétit, dober tek, salut and have a lovely evening. Thank you.
Ends/Thursday, November 10, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:35
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