SCED's speech at opening ceremony of Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair and Timepiece Extravaganza
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair (HKWCF) and Timepiece Extravaganza today (September 4):
Fred (Lam) (Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC)), Eddie (Leung) (Chairman of the HKTDC Watches and Clocks Advisory Committee), Mr Sze (Wai-hung) (Co-Chairman of the HKWCF Organising Committee), Elise (Tsui) (Co-Chairman of the HKWCF Organising Committee), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. It is my great pleasure to join you this morning for the opening of the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2013.
It is very encouraging to see that the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair has now become the world's biggest timepiece event, surpassing that of Swiss Basel. The presence of the largest fair of its kind in Hong Kong speaks for itself the importance of the Asian market and the emerging opportunities in the region for the watches and clocks industry.
Among all Asian economies, I think you would agree that the Mainland stands out as one of the most lucrative markets with huge potential. The increasing prosperity and the rise of an affluent middle class in recent years have generated an unprecedented demand for prestigious and branded timepieces. Given our close business ties with the Mainland and our experience in doing business there, Hong Kong is well positioned to take advantage of this growth.
Over the years, Hong Kong has been playing a significant role as an international trading hub for watches and clocks. As the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of complete watches in 2012, our imports exceeded HK$81 billion (US$10 billion) while our exports amounted to some HK$74 billion (US$9.5 billion).
Despite the global economic downturn and sluggish export climate, our exports of watches and clocks in the first half of 2013 still achieved a growth of 2 per cent to reach HK$35 billion (US$4.5 billion). While our traditional markets, namely Switzerland and the US (United States), remain our top two markets, the Mainland and Macau are catching up as the third and fourth largest export destinations. Such market diversification enhances the competitiveness of our industry, making it more responsive to changes. The Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair provides a perfect arena for businessmen to explore new business opportunities to diversify their export markets.
To assist SMEs to open up new markets, the Government has recently raised the grant ceiling of the SME Export Marketing Fund from $150,000 to $200,000 to facilitate SMEs' participation in new export promotion activities. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all SMEs to make good use of the Fund to venture into new business opportunities.
Apart from market diversification, brand promotion is another important tool to reinforce the competitive edge of the industry. In response to the intense market demand for branded timepieces, this year's Brand Name Gallery in the Fair has been strengthened and repositioned as Timepiece Extravaganza to showcase worldwide fine quality watches and clocks of original or licensed brands. Over the years, the Government has been rendering support to enterprises in building and developing their own brands. The Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales (or the BUD Fund in short) is a useful initiative which provides enterprises with funding support of up to $500,000 for undertaking brand promotion projects for the Mainland market. Eligible enterprises are most welcome to make the most effective use of the Fund to develop their domestic sales in the Mainland.
I would like to commend the excellent efforts of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association and the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades & Industries in bringing this important and reputable event to fruition. I wish this year's Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair and the Timepiece Extravaganza every success. Thank you.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013