SCED's speech at cocktail reception for Austria Connect Greater China 2013 Conference and Forum
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the cocktail reception for the "Austria Connect Greater China 2013" Conference and Forum today (October 16):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. I am delighted to join all of you at the cocktail reception tonight to mark the opening of the "Austria Connect Greater China 2013" Conference and Forum, which is the first, largest and most important Austrian business community event in Asia, with the participation of influential CEOs (chief executive officers) and representatives from the Mainland China, Asia and Austria.
First of all, on behalf of the Hong Kong SAR Government, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all participants attending the conference.
I would also like to thank the Austrian Trade Commission for choosing Hong Kong as the location for staging this important event, which has reaffirmed our unique and important role in the region.
Austria has long been our valued trading partner, with the total worth of our bilateral trade reaching HK$8.9 billion (EUR 893.8 million) last year. We also handled some 10 per cent of the bilateral trade between Austria and Mainland China. We see good potential to further develop our linkage and look forward to having more exchanges and co-operation to foster closer bilateral ties in the years ahead.
Hong Kong is now home to many Austrian companies taking advantage of our user-friendly business environment, free market policy, and rule of law in furthering their businesses in the region. The Austrian business community is a vibrant and diverse group, and has been playing a significant role in Hong Kong's economic development. They come from a wide spectrum of sectors, ranging from large financial institutions to unique and distinctive jewellery retailers, such as FREYWILLE. We cherish the long-standing friendship and valuable contribution made by the Austrian community to our economy.
Hong Kong has long played an indispensable role as the premier gateway to Mainland China. Being strategically located on its doorstep, Hong Kong can provide the fastest and most efficient route to connect Austrian enterprises to the thriving business opportunities in Mainland China.
Austrian firms can also benefit from our unique free trade pact with Mainland China, i.e. the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or what we commonly called CEPA. We signed the 10th Supplement to CEPA in late August, which provides wider access for our services sector to the Mainland market. CEPA rules are nationality-neutral, which means that Austrian companies incorporated here can enjoy the same preferential treatment as local companies in accessing the Mainland market. I would like to encourage Austrian businessmen to leverage on our city's advantage to venture into the Mainland market.
Finally, I wish the conference great success and all our visitors a very enjoyable stay here in Hong Kong. Thank you.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013