Speeches and Presentations

SCED promotes Hong Kong as great place for Swiss firms to do business

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, continued his official visit to Zurich, Switzerland on January 24 (Zurich time) to promote Hong Kong as a great place for Swiss firms to do business, especially in the areas of innovation, science and technology.

At a business luncheon jointly hosted by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Berlin, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Swiss-Hong Kong Business Association, Mr So spoke about the great opportunities for Hong Kong and Switzerland to strengthen co-operation. He said that innovation and technology industries have huge potential in Hong Kong, where Switzerland's hi-tech firms might get a foothold in the huge China market as well as markets across Asia.

"Swiss firms can take advantage of the Free Trade Agreement signed in 2011 between Hong Kong and the Member States of the European Free Trade Association, including Switzerland.

"In 2012, Mainland China overtook the United States for the highest number of filings in major types of intellectual property (IP) rights. We are exploring ways to establish Hong Kong as an IP trading hub in Asia, not just for Mainland Chinese firms but also for innovative companies in Hong Kong, in Switzerland and around the world," Mr So said.

On the benefits brought about by the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), Mr So noted that CEPA includes more than 400 trade liberalisation measures and covers 48 services sectors.

"Importantly for our friends here in Switzerland, CEPA's rules are nationality-neutral. This means that overseas firms incorporated in Hong Kong, including Hong Kong-incorporated Swiss firms, can enjoy the same benefits of CEPA as local companies in reaching the Mainland China market," Mr So added.

He also took the opportunity to highlight some key business-related areas of the 2014 Policy Address recently announced by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung.

Earlier in the day, Mr So visited the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ), one of the world's top universities focusing on engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management. While there he met with senior academics and management to learn about their successful experience in transferring research results into new business start-ups.

Noting that Hong Kong offered strong protection of IP rights and was rapidly growing as a regional IP trading centre - especially in technology transfer, Mr So encouraged ETHZ to identify potential start-up companies to develop the market on this side of the world.

ETHZ's technology transfer office has entered into an agreement with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP) on technology soft-landings, under which the HKSTP supports overseas university technology transfer offices to identify suitable projects to be introduced in Hong Kong.

Mr So also toured Technopark Zurich, which hosts more than 250 high-tech companies, service providers, research and higher education institutions employing more than 1,700 people.

On January 25 (Davos time), Mr So will attend an informal ministerial gathering of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the margins of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014 in Davos. He will share his views on ways to continue the WTO's work building on the success of the Bali outcome, and on a work programme to tackle the remaining issues of the Doha Development Agenda.

Mr So will return to Hong Kong tomorrow (January 26).

Saturday, January 25, 2014