Speech by CE at Hong Kong Maritime Week 2022 Opening Ceremony (English only) (with video)

     â€‹Following is the pre-recorded video speech by the Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, at the Hong Kong Maritime Week 2022 Opening Ceremony today (November 21):
Friends of the global maritime community, ladies and gentlemen,
     Good morning. I am pleased to speak to you at the opening ceremony of Hong Kong Maritime Week, a grand flotilla of events spotlighting major developments in the maritime industry here in Hong Kong and around the world.
     The Maritime Week is just the latest in a series of international events signalling Hong Kong's return to business.
     Earlier this month, we hosted a highly successful Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit. Over 200 international leaders from some 120 financial institutions flew to Hong Kong and joined us for this three-day summit. More than 40 of those institutions were represented by their group chairperson or CEO.
     It was followed by Hong Kong Legal Week, in which we welcomed an array of overseas guests from pre-eminent institutions in private international law to Hong Kong.
     As you know, I was in Bangkok over the past couple of days to attend  APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Economic Leaders' Week and tell our friends, old and new, all about the good and true stories of Hong Kong.
     This week, I am pleased to have this welcome opportunity to speak to a world of maritime business here in Hong Kong.
     Hong Kong Maritime Week features more than 40 conferences, seminars, receptions and other gatherings through this Saturday. And what a welcoming sea of sectors, professions and areas they cover, from maritime technology, insurance, finance and law, to ship management, education and careers, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and much more.
     The series of events feature maritime visits, tours, competitions, and even a family fun day. And, of course, this week's signature event, the two-day Asian Logistics, Maritime and Aviation Conference, opens tomorrow.
     The world is watching, in person and online. They include representatives of the International Chamber of Shipping, the Baltic and International Maritime Council, and many other prestigious international maritime organisations, many of which are organising events during the week.
     And, of course, they include you – the professionals who power and navigate the course of the maritime industry: shipowners and executives, port and shipyard operators, suppliers and service providers, legal, financial and logistics professionals, educators, government regulators and officials, and more. All of you believers in Hong Kong's maritime future. For good reason.
     The National 14th Five-Year Plan champions Hong Kong's status as an international shipping centre. That includes the development of high-value-added maritime services for better integration into our country's overall progress and, more specifically, Hong Kong's place in the development of a world-class port cluster.
     At a time when global supply chains face unprecedented disruption, the resilience and commitment of international trade and logistics continues to provide a lifeline for millions. In doing so, it enables access to food and other essential supplies.
     Global merchandise trade volume rebounded by nearly 10 per cent last year, according to the World Trade Organization. This year, it's forecast to grow 3.5 per cent. I am confident that the international maritime sector will continue to play an essential role in the resumption of global trade. That very much includes Hong Kong.
     Our port, shipping and maritime services have long underpinned the development of the trading and logistics sector, one of our pillar industries. Last year, Hong Kong was the world's sixth-largest trading centre, accounting for 3.1 per cent of international merchandise trade – some US$1.4 trillion in all. About 90 per cent of our cargo volume is carried by water, underlining the essential importance of our port and shipping sector.
     Thanks to our international connectivity and multi-faceted maritime excellence, Hong Kong Port remains one of the busiest container ports in the world. Last year, it handled nearly 18 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), making it one of the world's 10 busiest container ports.
     We are also a major regional transshipment port, with some 270 weekly international container vessel sailings connecting to nearly 600 destinations worldwide. We are home, as well, to nearly 900 shipping-related companies, providing a smart spectrum of maritime services, from ship broking, management and chartering to finance, law and insurance offerings.
     In my Policy Address last month, I stated that we will fully capitalise on our position as a high-value-added maritime services centre and an important transshipment hub in the Asia-Pacific region.
     In July, we introduced half-rate profits-tax concessions for ship agents, ship managers and ship brokers. This followed earlier preferential tax regimes for ship-leasing companies, ship-leasing managers and marine insurers.
     We are confident that these, and other, measures will attract international maritime companies to establish a presence in Hong Kong.
     The industry also needs talent to take full advantage of the boundless opportunities here. To attract maritime talent, we will launch a Maritime Services Traineeship Scheme next year. It will target young people looking to maritime law for their future.
     We take pride in the Hong Kong Shipping Register. It ranks fourth, globally, in gross tonnage. More than 11 per cent of the deadweight tonnage of the world's merchant fleet is owned or managed by Hong Kong ship owners.
     As such, we have expanded services for owners of Hong Kong-registered ships residing abroad, establishing Hong Kong Shipping Registry Regional Desks in seven international cities.
     As I noted in the Policy Address, we will promote Hong Kong's "smart port" development. Ports around the world have started to go green and smart, whether that is transitioning to net-zero carbon and reducing emissions, or meeting industry demands for more efficient operation and greater sustainability.
     The current pandemic has brought these issues to the fore, a reminder of how vital it is to build resilience into everything we do. Incorporating smart and green solutions at the heart of port operations will help us meet these challenges. No less important, doing so delivers business continuity and economic efficiency.
     To that end, we are setting up a port community system. That means sharing data among operators and other stakeholders to boost the competitiveness of our port.
     Sustainable shipping initiatives are also in the works. They include the provision of liquefied natural gas bunkering for ocean-going vessels in Hong Kong, and realising the latest requirements of the International Maritime Organization.
     And, given the boundless promise of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), we will develop an action plan to promote Hong Kong's value-added logistics development. That includes integrating sea, air and land transport to strengthen the pivotal role Hong Kong plays in the GBA's connectivity.
     That, ladies and gentlemen, just touches on a few of the areas, and opportunities, our maritime industry is embracing. You'll hear a great deal more – about Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area and the marine world beyond – throughout this Maritime Week.
     For that, my thanks to the organisers, the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association and the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. Thanks, too, to Maritime Week partners, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Invest Hong Kong.
     I wish you all the best of business and a fruitful Hong Kong Maritime Week. Thank you very much.

Ends/Monday, November 21, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:57