SCED's speech at Chinese New Year reception in Moscow (English only)
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at a Chinese New Year reception in Moscow jointly hosted by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council today (March 16, Moscow time):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. I am so happy to see old friends and new coming together in celebration of the Chinese New Year. First of all, Happy New Year! I wish you and your family good health and good fortune in the Year of the Goat.
This is my first time in Moscow. I am very impressed with this vibrant and exciting city of finance, international trade, culture, heritage, sports and science and technology. And of course, the unique architecture of the many historic buildings dotting the map of Moscow is just so fascinating.
I am very delighted to have this chance to share with you what Hong Kong has to offer for Russian businesses and visitors.
Just like Moscow, Hong Kong is a lively and interesting city with a lot to offer. Formerly under British rule and reunited with China since 1997, Hong Kong has a unique East-meets-West culture that attracts visitors both from Mainland China and all around the world. Our excellent location in the heart of Asia also helps.
In Hong Kong, visitors can enjoy city-wide duty-free shopping, extraordinary cuisine, bustling street scenes, lively nightlife and world-class theme parks, all in a very safe multicultural and multilingual environment. We have long been known as a very modern and cosmopolitan city. What you may not know is that Hong Kong also has sandy beaches and scenic hiking trails that are only half an hour away from the central business district. If you enjoy getting tanned on the beach in the summer, you should consider Hong Kong as your next destination!
When it comes to business and trade, Hong Kong has always been given the highest regard as a business hub. We have been ranked the world's freest economy for 21 consecutive years by the Heritage Foundation. We are also ranked the third in ease of doing business by the World Bank just a few months ago. All these recognitions reaffirm our incessant efforts in business facilitation, and that means we always strive to make it faster, easier and cheaper to do business in Hong Kong.
When I say "do business in Hong Kong", I do not mean the Hong Kong market alone. On its own, Hong Kong is rather small with some seven million people. But when you consider that we received almost 61 million visitors last year, including more than 47 million from Mainland China, Hong Kong is a great platform for international companies to showcase their products to a wide audience with tremendous purchasing power.
As an international financial centre and trading hub, Hong Kong is also a natural springboard to the buoyant Mainland China and Asian markets. Our stock market has raised US$29 billion in IPOs (initial public offerings) last year. With a total market capitalisation of US$3.2 trillion as at the end of 2014, the Hong Kong stock market was the second-largest in Asia and the sixth-biggest in the world. We currently have two sizable Russian companies, UC Rusal and IRC Limited, listed in Hong Kong. We certainly welcome more Russian companies to leverage on our efficient financial platform to gain access to investment from around the world.
Hong Kong is strategically located at the doorstep of Mainland China and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region. We have an open and business-friendly environment with low and simple taxes. We practise the rule of law, which is underpinned by judicial independence. We embrace internationally recognised codes of practice, and we guarantee a level playing-field, free flows of capital, information and talent. In short, we bring to the world both global standards and unlimited Asian opportunities.
My colleagues and I look forward to telling you more about what Hong Kong has to offer for your business or your next visit. In closing, I would like to thank you all for coming to this reception. And once again, Happy New Year!