Speeches and Presentations

SCED's speech at Rice Trader World Rice Conference 2013

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at The Rice Trader (TRT) World Rice Conference 2013 today (November 20):

Mr (Jeremy) Zwinger, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to join you today at this TRT World Rice Conference 2013.

Rice is the primary staple for more than half of the world's population. It is a mainstay for the rural population and their food security. World production of rice has risen steadily from about 200 million tonnes of paddy rice in the 1960s to over 700 million tonnes nowadays to meet the growing needs of the global population. Despite a recent change in diet habits, rice is still consumed by local people here in Hong Kong on a daily basis, ranging from steamed rice, fried rice, rice noodles, congee and paella to risotto.

Hong Kong is a free, open and market-oriented economy. It is our policy to ensure the free and efficient import of rice to Hong Kong from any country, thereby maintaining a stable supply of rice for our local population.

Hong Kong only produces a very small amount of rice locally. The bulk of rice consumed in the territory is imported. There is no restriction on the source and quantity of rice import in Hong Kong. In recent years, rice importers have been diversifying their import sources and the Government is glad to see that consumers are provided with more choices. Currently, our three most important sources of rice import are Thailand (51 per cent), Vietnam (35.5 per cent) and Mainland China (7.9 per cent).

We operate the Rice Control Scheme in Hong Kong and the import and export of rice are subject to licensing requirements. However, the requirements only aim at maintaining simple and minimum control to ensure a stable supply, and maintaining a reserve stock to cater for emergencies or any short-term shortage of supply.

Being the staple of so many people around the world, the sufficient and stable supply of rice is of paramount importance. All elements of the rice value chain including production, transportation, export and import, procurement, quality control, pricing, marketing and distribution are essential to the sustainable global supply of rice. I am glad to learn that the Conference this year will provide a useful platform for industry experts to get together and discuss the global trend and outlook of the demand and supply of rice.

I wish the Conference great success and participants from overseas an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013