Speech by SCED at Chinese New Year reception in Sydney (English only)
Minister Tudehope (Minister for Finance and Employee Relations of New South Wales, Mr Damien Tudehope), Speaker O'Dea (Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, Mr Jonathan O'Dea), Acting Consul General Mi (Acting Consul General of the People's Republic of China in Sydney, Mr Mi Bin), Councillor Kok (Representative of the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Mr Robert Kok), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, friends in Sydney,
Kung Hei Fat Choi. It is my great pleasure to join you all virtually this evening at the Chinese New Year reception in Sydney to send my warmest New Year greetings from Hong Kong. May I first wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and prosperous year.
As we bid farewell to 2022, it is now the time for us to look at how challenging the past year was for Hong Kong and the world. The challenges to Hong Kong came both domestically and internationally. We endured a tough wave of COVID outbreak in Hong Kong. The international environment was also extremely challenging, notably the disruptions in the supply chain, high inflation and interest rate hikes, as well as a halt in connectivity in different parts of the world.
Despite the challenges, Hong Kong has been as resilient as ever with our strong fundamentals. We have been recognised as the world's freest economy, the fifth most competitive economy around the globe, and the world's sixth largest merchandise trading entity. Our long-standing relationship with Australia stood the test as well. Hong Kong was Australia's fifth largest source of total foreign investment amounting to nearly US$90 billion in 2021, and at the same time Australia's ninth largest investment destination. The bilateral merchandise trade between Hong Kong and Australia was US$6.8 billion in 2021. Our economic and trade ties have remained strong.
As we step into 2023, we are looking at a bright year ahead. One of the best starts is that Mainland China, the strongest support for Hong Kong's economy, is quickly optimising its anti-epidemic measures and opening up, providing impetus for better growth prospects for the world. The return of the Mainland means a lot for Hong Kong and we expect a visible rebound of our economy this year. Our country will also continue to provide us with the most solid support for development. The National 14th Five-Year Plan presents a clear and compelling positioning of Hong Kong in eight traditional and emerging sectors. Apart from being an international financial, trade and shipping centre, our emerging industries, such as innovation and technology, and arts and culture, are thriving. The world-renowned Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, with a population of 87 million and a combined GDP of nearly US$2 trillion, provides immense opportunities for businesses from Hong Kong and other parts of the world.
In the international arena, Hong Kong is actively pursuing early accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, the world's largest free trade agreement to date accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the global trade volume. As an advocate of free and open trade, Hong Kong is definitely well placed to add value to the RCEP in many unique ways. We look forward to joining the Agreement to further pursue the common goal of economic advancement with RCEP members including Australia.
Ladies and gentlemen, Hong Kong has hit the ground running and is going to embrace the world of opportunities in open arms as one of the most important financial centres as well as the only place where the China advantages and the world advantages converge under the "one country, two systems" principle. Our Chief Executive announced an array of new initiatives in his 2022 Policy Address targeted at attracting enterprises, investment and talents to further enhance our competitiveness. We have set up a dedicated office, in abbreviation we call it OASES (Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises), to attract enterprises that are of strategic importance and value to Hong Kong by offering special facilitation measures. On talents, we have launched the Top Talent Pass Scheme to entice high-income talents or graduates from the world's top 100 universities to power our economic engine.
With the resumption of normal travel with the Mainland and the world, Hong Kong is back on the international stage. A host of events were held successfully, including the Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit and the Asian Financial Forum, assembling top business leaders from around the globe. I look forward to welcoming more and more businesses and talents from Australia to explore the immense opportunities in Hong Kong.
On this note, thank you for having me today. Happy New Year and have a lovely evening.
Ends/Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Issued at HKT 16:25
Issued at HKT 16:25