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Speech by CS at Republic of Peru National Day Reception (English only)
     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the Republic of Peru National Day Reception today (July 27):
Consul General (Sergio Manuel Avila Traverso), ladies and gentlemen,
     Good evening.  It gives me great pleasure to be with you on this festive occasion – the 196th anniversary of the independence of Peru, one of the most blessed and beautiful of the world’s countries.

     Indeed, Peru came fourth among a list of 136 countries in the “natural resources” category of the World Economic Forum’s 2017 “Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report.”  More than natural beauty, Peru, like Hong Kong, is built for global business and champions the rule of law and a free market.
     According to the World Bank, Peru has been one of South America’s fast-rising economies, registering an average growth rate of 5.9 per cent over the past decade.  The International Monetary Fund expects Peru’s growth to remain high relative to the region in 2017 – rising again over the medium term.  
     I am pleased to note that the bilateral trade between our two economies grew by over 17 per cent a year on average from 2012 to 2016.  Last year, US$600 million worth of goods in the total trade between Peru and Mainland China was routed through Hong Kong.  That represented 3.6 per cent of Peru’s total trade with the Mainland in 2016.  And I believe it is only the beginning.
     Peru, like Hong Kong, gives priority to the development of transport infrastructure from road and rail to ports and airports.  More than increasing the country’s competitiveness, the transport development programme seeks to establish Peru as a regional hub, thereby driving fast-track integration with Asia, particularly China.
     In that regard, Peru is well on its way.  Thanks to a free trade agreement with the Mainland that has been in operation for seven years, China has become Peru’s largest trading partner.  It is no surprise that President Xi made time for a state visit to Peru last November, following the conclusion of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Lima ― the Peruvian capital.  It is also no surprise that the incumbent President of Peru made Beijing the destination of his first official trip abroad last September. 
     Beyond bilateral trade, Peru sees promise in the Mainland’s ambitious Belt and Road Forum.  In May, at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Eduardo Ferreyros, Peru’s Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister, noted that Peru is perfectly placed to “connecting Asia and South America” – to extending in short the Belt and Road into the Americas. 
     While Latin America has yet to be formally included in the ambitious undertaking, President Xi has emphasised in his speech delivered at the opening of the Beijing Forum that all countries, from either Asia, Europe, Africa or the Americas, can be international cooperation partners of the Belt and Road initiative.  The pursuit of this initiative is based on extensive consultation and its benefits will be shared by us all.
     I was pleased to hear that the Consul General, in his address, spoke of Hong Kong’s expected role in helping to realise the boundless promise of the Belt and Road.
     Ladies and gentlemen, we have the experience, expertise and connections, both on the Mainland and around the world, to meet the demands arising from the Belt and Road initiative for fund-raising and all manner of financial services.  We are, of course, the world’s offshore renminbi hub.  And we are opening up capital markets between Hong Kong and the Mainland through the Shenzhen-Hong Kong and Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connects as well as the Bond Connect launched early this month.  Alongside our financial capacity, Hong Kong has the expertise in professional services to oversee the construction and operation of infrastructure projects and more.  As the Consul General noted, the Belt and Road initiative is also about people-to-people exchanges, about cultural cooperation between economies and communities.

     Indeed, I gathered that some three million Peruvian citizens are of Chinese descent, representing close to 10 per cent of Peru’s population.  This interesting fact underlines the unique bond between Peru and China, of which Hong Kong is an inseparable part.
     In short, for Hong Kong and Peru there is much to look forward to.
     On this encouraging note, please join me now in a toast: to the Republic of Peru, and to the people of Peru, on this memorable National Day.
Ends/Thursday, July 27, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:45
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