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Speech by SCED at "Made in Asia" sourcing symposium 2018 (English only)
     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, at the "Made in Asia" sourcing symposium 2018 today (March 15):
Anne-Laure (Member of the French Chamber Sourcing Committee, Ms Anne-Laure Descours), Rebecca (President of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hong Kong, Ms Rebecca Sili), distinguished speakers, ladies and gentlemen,
     Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to join you today at the "Made in Asia" symposium. First of all, I would like to congratulate the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry for putting together yet another marvellous symposium, which is its eighth edition. The Chamber has been active in our business community as we are home to about 20 000 French citizens and 750 French companies, a vibrant and diverse group with interests ranging from banking, finance, innovation and technology and high-end consumer products to foodstuffs and wine. It is good to have you and the strong presence of the French business community in Hong Kong, signifying our mutual interest as well as Hong Kong being home to a vibrant and diverse international community. For the symposium today, I am pleased to see trade experts, senior executives and sourcing and supply chain professionals gather here in Hong Kong to review the opportunities and challenges facing the sourcing industry.
     Hong Kong is at the heart of Asia as a springboard into Mainland China, as well as the entire Asia and Asia Pacific region, which are the world's fastest growing and biggest markets. For decades, we have also been a perfect location for managing the supply chains in the region, and such a role is prospering much faster than ever before. 
     Hong Kong is well-known for its world-class transport and information technology infrastructures, and highly efficient logistics network. Our airport has been ranked first internationally in air cargo throughput for eight consecutive years, and our container port is one of the world’s busiest ports with an average of 11 hours to load and unload a full container vessel. We are also very well-connected in the region, reaching half of the world’s population within five hours' flight time. The commissioning of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the high-speed rail link will make Hong Kong even more swiftly connected to cities and provinces in the Mainland as well as neighbouring ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, with a much reduced city-to-city travel time. We are the world's most penetrated digital economy, with secured cyber connection and seamless broadband services. We are also home to the highest number of international companies using Hong Kong as their regional headquarters and offices, let alone the presence of the international community with multi-national, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural diversity.
     We also pride ourselves with our business-friendly environment, low and simple tax regime - and I should say it will be even lower by later this month with our tax cut - and free flow of information, capital and people, as well as a diversified talent pool. Indeed, Hong Kong has proved its enduring appeal as a first-class business city. It gained the title as the world's most competitive economy in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2017 released by the International Institute for Management Development, and continues to be ranked as the world's freest economy - for the 24th consecutive year - by the Heritage Foundation.  
     One would often ask if and how the fast opening and development of the Mainland's cities would impact on Hong Kong's status. The answer in fact lies with two distinctive sets of advantages that Hong Kong possesses, which reinforce our niche as the most open, competitive and internationalised cities in this part of the region. They are the constitutional arrangement for Hong Kong to maintain its distinctive character under "one country, two systems"; and Hong Kong's unparalleled advantage under the Belt and Road Initiative that China is engaging in with the world.
     The Belt and Road Initiative, announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is an ambitious plan with a strong emphasis on connectivity and international co-operation among countries along the Belt and Road corridors. This development will certainly lead to an expansion in the volume of international trade. Hong Kong, being a key link for the Belt and Road, is ready to fully leverage on its strengths and unique advantages under "one country, two systems" in contributing to the Initiative. We will offer strong support to Mainland and overseas companies in their participation in the Initiative by providing a platform for raising capital, more trade and a host of professional services.
     As French President Emmanuel Macron remarked when he met with President Xi in early January, the Belt and Road Initiative is a "two way" street that benefits collaborating parties. Hong Kong shares this vision that for the Belt and Road Initiative to succeed, it must bring mutual benefits through collaboration and connection of trade, investment, financing, infrastructural development as well as people-to-people bonds. In the process, Hong Kong stands to be a trusted facilitator and promoter contributing to the business venture through our knowledge of both East and West, our professional services that meet internationally recognised standards and practices, and the exceptional linkages we established over the decades through people-to-people and company-to-company connections.    
     Hong Kong is also strengthening the relationship with its trading partners through bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. Our recent signing of free trade and investment agreements with ASEAN is a strong testimony of this government to government effort. These agreements will not only provide much better market access in the trade in goods and services, but will also facilitate the establishment of effective supply chains in the region.
     As for the Mainland market, the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area will bring enormous business opportunities for Hong Kong and overseas businesses. The city cluster covers Hong Kong, Macao and nine Guangdong cities with a total population of 68 million and GDP of US$1.4 trillion. The development of the Bay Area will allow Hong Kong to give full play to its strengths. We will cement our position as the gateway to the Mainland. We will consolidate and enhance our status as a centre for international financial, transportation and trade. We will also develop and nurture our emerging industries including legal and dispute resolution services, creative industry, and innovation and technology industry. Among these, innovation and technology will be the major driver for building the Bay Area into a world-class city cluster with global influence and competitiveness.
     Development of innovation and technology is among the top policy priorities of the Hong Kong Government. We are determined to develop Hong Kong into a knowledge-based economy and an innovation hub for technology and its application, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of Hong Kong and improving the quality of life of our citizens.  
     In his Budget released last month, our Financial Secretary announced a broad range of measures to promote the innovation and technology sector with a focus on four key areas, namely biotechnology, artificial intelligence, smart city and financial technologies. We will also introduce a 300 per cent tax deduction for the first $2 million eligible expenditure on research and development, with the remainder at 200 per cent.
     Ladies and gentlemen, success is where preparation and opportunity meet. Opportunities are clearly ahead. Let’s all get prepared. And Hong Kong is ready to share with you all these opportunities ahead.
     I wish you a fruitful discussion today. Thank you.
Ends/Thursday, March 15, 2018
Issued at HKT 11:45
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