SCED's speech at 4th World SME Summit (English only)
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the 4th World SME Summit organised by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Small and Medium Business today (December 4):
Mr Ng (President of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Small and Medium Business, Mr Eric Ng), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. I am delighted to join you all here today at the 4th World SME Summit. It is indeed my pleasure to be addressing an audience that is highly supportive of SMEs in Hong Kong. I may be preaching to the converted, but good reinforcements are always welcomed. It is nice to be among enthusiasts with positive energy.
And let me extend a warm welcome to all of you, particularly our friends from overseas, to join this year's Summit. I am pleased to see over 300 SME entrepreneurs here with us today. You all bring invaluable insight towards the future prosperity of our SMEs.
The Hong Kong Government has always attached great importance to supporting SMEs because they are the backbone of our economy. SMEs account for over 98 per cent of our businesses and employ over half of our working population.
Our goal is to equip our SMEs with the capability to harness new opportunities and to overcome new challenges. How? We work closely with different SME associations, providing timely and adequate support to our stakeholders. For example, our Trade and Industry Department operates various SME funding schemes. We help our SMEs obtain loans, explore export markets and enhance competitiveness.
There is also a need to better equip our SMEs for the global shift towards knowledge-based and high value-added activities. Invest Hong Kong and the Innovation and Technology Commission provide different measures to help our SMEs stay competitive. Speaking of technology, just last week I invited a number of startup entrepreneurs and established industrialists to have a brainstorming session on the Internet of Things (IoT), in particular how we should position our industrial sector to harness the advantages of the IoT. The IoT has been generating a lot of excitement, and has the potential to transform our industrial landscape. In a proactive manner, we will continue to help our SMEs capitalise on the latest trends and technology, so that they may take full advantage of the opportunities that this new era presents.
We also recognise the importance of exploring new markets and collaborating with our regional partners. The theme of this year's Summit, "Exploring SME business opportunity in Korea, Japan and Taiwan" is of particular relevance to our SMEs. Over the past decades, the economic growth of Asia has been remarkable, and has provided our SMEs with great opportunities for business expansion. In particular, Korea, Japan and Taiwan are among our most important trading partners, and have maintained very close trade relations with us throughout the years. In 2013, they were our third, fourth and sixth largest trading partners, accounting for a total trade value of about US$127 billion.
Hong Kong possesses certain fundamental strengths that are conducive to the development of SMEs. Our economic freedom and our firm commitment to free trade and free enterprise are widely recognised. Our city also boasts a simple tax structure and low tax rates, a versatile and industrious workforce, excellent infrastructure, as well as free flow of capital and information.
And more importantly, Hong Kong is strategically located at the gateway to the Mainland market. It is an ideal springboard for Mainland enterprises to "go global" and for foreign enterprises to tap the vast Mainland market. I encourage our SMEs to make good use of our strengths in exploring new business opportunities.
Before closing, I would like to thank the Hong Kong General Chamber of Small and Medium Business for organising the Summit. The Summit provides a valuable platform for representatives of SMEs from different countries to share and exchange views on the latest development of their economies, and to identify new co-operation opportunities.
I wish this year's Summit great success and all of you a fruitful experience. And for our guests from overseas, I hope you will take the opportunity to tour around, enjoy the sights and sounds of Hong Kong, shop a lot and have a wonderful stay in this magnificent city.
Ends/Thursday, December 4, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:20