SCED's speech at opening ceremony of Vancouver Airport Authority Asia Office (English only)
Following is the speech entitled "Connectivity for People and for Businesses" by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Airport Authority Asia Office today (October 27):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. It's my great pleasure to join you at the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Airport Authority's Asia Office. We are very pleased that the Vancouver Airport Authority has chosen Hong Kong to set up its operation. This is a strong testament reaffirming Hong Kong's status the region's leading business, financial as well as aviation hub.
As Mr Richmond (President and Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Airport Authority, Mr Craig Richmond) pointed out, setting up an Asia office here in Hong Kong will increase connectivity with the Asian markets. Connectivity is key for the aviation industry, and it is also key for our commerce and economic development. Hong Kong is a city that epitomises connectivity. With world-class infrastructure, integrated services expertise, international trade know-how, an efficient transport network and state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities all vital parts of our DNA, Hong Kong serves a unique and important role as a super-connector to and from Mainland China as well as the rest of Asia.
Connectivity is first and foremost about connecting places, about location. Hong Kong is strategically located at the heart of Asia. We provide the fastest and most efficient route to connect Canadian companies to the vast business opportunities in Mainland China and across Asia. Passengers and goods from Hong Kong can reach all major Asian cities within four hours, and half of the world's population is within five hours' flying time.
Over 100 scheduled airlines operate regularly at our award-winning airport. There are over 7 000 flights every week connecting Hong Kong with some 180 destinations worldwide. Our extensive flight network also makes Hong Kong the world's busiest air cargo hub. Our airport handled over 4.1 million tonnes of high-value cargo in 2013. Hong Kong is also well served by about 80 international shipping lines with some 380 services per week to some 550 destinations worldwide. Our container port is among the busiest in the world.
Our connectivity with the Mainland will be further strengthened by the 29.6-kilometre mega-bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai, now under construction, which will expand linkage to the booming western Pearl River Delta region. The Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, when commissioned in a few years' time, will connect us to China's fast-expanding national high-speed railway network, taking only 10 hours and 48 minutes respectively to reach Beijing and Guangzhou, for example, compared to 24 hours and two hours today.
Connectivity is also about connecting businesses. Hong Kong's standing in the business world is clearly echoed by numerous leading indices and surveys. The McKinsey Global Institute ranked Hong Kong second in their new Global Connectedness Index, which took into account the total flow of goods, services, finance and people, as well as data and communications, in the 131 economies they surveyed. For 20 consecutive years, the Heritage Foundation has ranked Hong Kong as the world's freest economy. A survey by the Fraser Institute came up with the same result. The World Bank's latest Doing Business report ranked Hong Kong the second easiest place in the world to do business. Hong Kong was again selected as the Best Business City in the World in a readers' poll by the Business Traveller Asia-Pacific magazine.
Why do we have such excellent business connectivity?
Hong Kong has a low and simple tax system. We have no VAT (value-added tax), no GST (goods and services tax), no inheritance tax, no capital gains tax, no withholding tax on dividends or interest. We don't even tax our wine imports.
We have a strong tradition of rule of law, underpinned by an independent judiciary. We have an efficient, robust and transparent regulatory environment. We are a duty-free port, and we encourage free flows of people, capital and information.
What's more? Foreign companies incorporated in Hong Kong can take advantage of our trade agreements with other economies. For example, Canadian investors can also enjoy the benefits accorded under CEPA, the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. This unique free trade pact offers any qualified company registered in Hong Kong, irrespective of country of origin, preferential access to the Mainland market, including tariff-free exports to the Mainland for all goods made in Hong Kong, as well as over 400 preferential benefits to Hong Kong service providers engaged in a wide array of services.
These are the fundamentals that make Hong Kong a good place to do business. So I encourage more Canadian enterprises to consider Hong Kong as your business platform. You are sure to benefit from our business-friendly environment as well as the enormous opportunities that are available.
Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish Vancouver Airport Authority's Asia Office a great success and all of you a memorable evening.
Ends/Monday, October 27, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:24