Speech by SCED at "Made in Asia" sourcing symposium 2016 (English only)
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the "Made in Asia" sourcing symposium 2016 today (March 9):
Mrs Chenain (Executive Director of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hong Kong, Mrs Orianne Chenain), distinguished speakers, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to speak to you again at this marvellous event. The "Made in Asia" symposium is an excellent platform for senior executives, social experts, sourcing and supply chain professionals to gather together and review the opportunities and challenges facing the sourcing industry.
The theme for this year, "Doing More with Less", is ingenious and thought-provoking. It is something that every entrepreneur is striving for in this highly competitive market. And it is particularly relevant to the sourcing industry, an industry confronted by profound challenges ranging from mounting protectionism to escalating costs.
To survive, the sourcing industry must strive to be more efficient, and I am here to tell you that Hong Kong is just the perfect place for you all to achieve this very goal.
Why? First of all, like produces like, as in the principle of biology. Indeed, "efficient" is the word that keeps cropping up when people talk about Hong Kong. The trains come every two minutes, tax forms are two pages long, and everything moves fast. Our trading of goods and services has been incredibly efficient, as Hong Kong is the world's eighth largest trading economy, despite our relatively small population and area. Our efficiency is also rooted in the capital or investment that flows through the city freely and quickly. Last year, Hong Kong ranked number two in global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows, second only to Mainland China. At the same time, Hong Kong was the world's second largest outward investing economy, second only to the United States.
Hong Kong is also a premier business hub that can efficiently connect your businesses. Take for example our successful trade fairs. They provide the most efficient and cost effective one-stop sourcing platforms for buyers and suppliers to establish contact, exchange experience and explore business opportunities. Each year, a variety of the world's top exhibitions, featuring toys and games, watches and jewellery, food and wine and much more, are staged here, where you can meet key players worldwide on a single occasion. And that's why many international trading houses and major retailers have established their buying offices here in Hong Kong for sourcing high quality products.
Trade fairs aside, we also have excellent knowledge and people-to-people connectivity, which further explains why we are efficient connectors helping sourcing entrepreneurs plug into the business networks. Our trade professionals in product sourcing are able to cater for the preferences of a diverse customer base and are acclaimed for speedy delivery within a short lead time.
Furthermore, our business-friendly environment is also very conducive to sourcing activities. We practise free trade and we do not impose any tariffs or maintain any trade barriers. Regulatory measures are kept to a minimum to ease trade flow. We follow the common law legal system and adopt internationally recognised codes of practices in business and commerce. We have a low and simple tax system with no GST (goods and services tax) or VAT (value-added tax). We have a clean and efficient government and a level playing field for all companies. Indeed, you would expect nothing less from an economy that is consistently ranked as the freest in the world. We have retained top spot in the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom for 22 years in a row. This status reflects real advantages for businesses in Hong Kong. It is no wonder that over 7 900 Mainland and international companies have chosen Hong Kong as their base in Asia.
Efficiency in sourcing business is also very much about "just-in-time" delivery to the destination. Location is therefore a very important factor in the industry. Hong Kong is strategically located at the heart of Asia and on the doorstep of Mainland China. This makes us an ideal springboard to reach out to the prosperous markets in our neighbourhood. Half of the world's population can be reached within five hours' flight time from Hong Kong. We also have world-class transport and information technology infrastructure, and one of the world's busiest container ports.
Building on our success as an international sourcing hub, we should not lose sight of new challenges and opportunities looming ahead. We need to be vigilant and look out for new growth prospects.
One of the notable examples is the Belt and Road Initiative, which provides the world economy with fresh and much-needed impetus, given the otherwise mundane global growth outlook. This grand strategy promotes closer economic and cultural ties among some 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.
The Belt and Road Initiative will generate demand and increase the volume and intensity of international trade and investment flow among countries along the routes, as well as two-way traffic in and out of China. As a highly open economy with extensive and strong external connectivity, Hong Kong is best placed to serve as the "super-connector" linking up various parties to take part in these exciting developments.
As mentioned just now, we have well-established international trade networks, and we have the most efficient hardware and software underpinning our trading regime. We are one of the most important centres for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE), sourcing and business matching in Asia. Riding on these competitive advantages, we may help enterprises identify business partners, and provide an ideal platform to facilitate trade and logistics along the Belt and Road. We welcome all of you to join hands with us in exploring the enormous possibilities and opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative.
Aristotle once said, "Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives - choice, not chance, determines your destiny."
Hong Kong is your right choice, your most ideal partner as you venture into the vast markets of the Far East and the Belt and Road. Hong Kong is ready to facilitate and help grow your businesses. I invite and encourage you all to make greater use of Hong Kong's unique advantages in terms of our physical proximity with the Mainland, as well as our first class infrastructure and our highly competitive business and professional services.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the French Chamber of Commerce for organising this marvellous event and I wish you all a very fruitful forum. Thank you very much.
Ends/Wednesday, March 9, 2016