Speech by SCED at Trade and Investment Session of OECD MCM in Paris (English only)
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Trade and Investment Session of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) in Paris, France, today (June 8, Paris time):
International trade has flourished over the past decades because it offers immense benefits to countries around the globe. It is a proven engine for growth, and a major contributor to poverty reduction.
Globalisation therefore accelerates growth, propelled by the emergence of modern production techniques, advanced transportation systems, transnational corporations, outsourcing of manufacturing and services, and rapid industrialisation.
Even with this, the global economic growth remains modest - around 2.4 per cent in 2017, according to the latest forecast by the WTO (World Trade Organization). Despite signs that things may pick up this year, the economic outlook continues to be challenging as we look for new growth engines against the backdrop of growing sentiments of doubts on free trade and globalisation.
Hong Kong, China (HKC) has always been a staunch supporter of free trade and the rule-based multilateral trading system that underpins it. With hardly any natural resources, Hong Kong, China ranked seventh globally as a trading entity in goods. Our experience clearly shows that by opening markets, free trade creates wealth and jobs. It promotes innovation and competition, encourages investments, and enables more goods and services to reach consumers at lower prices.
Therefore, HKC cautions against any tendency for governments to impose trade restrictive measures to protect domestic industries. The uncertainty generated by these protectionist policies will create a turbulent international trading environment, with a significant negative impact on economies which are highly integrated in the global value chains.
At this juncture when global economic growth is still fragile and the wealth gap is widening, achieving sustainable growth for all is a pressing issue. Economic development should be inclusive. When the benefits of growth are shared more broadly, growth is stronger, more durable, and more resilient.
Taking digital trade as an example, the digital era provides enormous opportunities for the next generation. HKC is determined to be a knowledge-based economy, with high value-added industries that create diversified employment opportunities, especially for our youths. We embrace innovation and technology to make our city smarter, more efficient and more comfortable. For that, a world-class ICT (information and communications technology) infrastructure and robust legal framework are vital to facilitate the free flow of talent, capital and knowledge.
HKC actively supports our SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to modernise, innovate and go global. For example, we just launched a US$64 million pilot program to help SMEs improve productivity and upgrade business processes by using cutting-edge technologies. These measures are the positive outcome of our ongoing stakeholders' engagement and consultation. We always keep our minds open and our ears to the ground. With that, our industries, including SMEs, will rise to the challenges by unleashing their innovative power, injecting momentum to our growth, and creating new and better jobs for the benefits of all.
Ends/Thursday, June 8, 2017