Speech by SCED at luncheon to celebrate 71st Independence Day of India (English only)
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, at a luncheon to celebrate the 71st Independence Day of India organised by the Overseas Indian Organisation Hong Kong today (August 15):
Mr Parekh (President of the Overseas Indian Organisation Hong Kong (OIO), Mr V K Parekh), Mr Sital (Chairman of the Indian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong, Mr Raj Sital), Andrew (President of the Legislative Council, Mr Andrew Leung), Consul-General (Consul-General of India to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macau Special Administrative Region, Mr Puneet Agrawal), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. It gives me great pleasure to be here today to celebrate India's Independence Day with our good friends and business partners.
Hong Kong and India have a long history of friendship and strong trade and investment links, which date all the way back to the 19th century. Since your far-sighted predecessors first settled in Hong Kong, the Indian community has, for generations, devoted themselves with vigour and enthusiasm to the growth of Hong Kong and made tremendous contributions.
There are approximately 1 500 Indian companies in Hong Kong. Among them, there is, of course, the billion-dollar global conglomerate the Harilela Group, which started as a small hawker shop on Hankow Road. There is also the signature Star Ferry, founded by another Indian entrepreneur, Mr Naorojee, back in 1888. Today, the Star Ferry is not just a very efficient and friendly shuttle across our harbour, but also an icon of Hong Kong, allowing visitors to take an up-close look at our photogenic Victoria Harbour.
It is promising to see that trade between Hong Kong and India has grown steadily with an average annual growth of 7 per cent in the past five years. Last year, the total merchandise trade between Hong Kong and India exceeded US$26.9 billion, representing a year-on-year increase of 13.4 per cent. Coincidentally, we are the seventh-largest trading partner of each other.
To further expand our business collaboration and our growing ties, Hong Kong and India are having exploratory discussions for negotiating an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. The Agreement, when concluded, will help strengthen investor confidence and boost bilateral investment flows, thereby taking our economic relations to the next level.
Indeed, when I visited India two years ago, I was impressed by the fact that the Indian business communities, compared with other countries in the region, have an exceptionally good understanding of Hong Kong and what we can offer. Business aside, as India is one of the most multicultural, multilingual and religiously diverse countries in the world, your cultural contributions to Hong Kong, and indeed the rest of the world, are prolific and popular. Hong Kong is blessed with a large and spirited Indian community, which is one of the largest amongst the ethnic groups in Hong Kong. More than 36 000 ethnic Indians are living in Hong Kong, many of whom are rooted in Hong Kong for generations and very much part of our Hong Kong family. They have no doubt regarded Hong Kong as their home and are definitely an important part of our society.
We treasure greatly our long-standing ties with India, and appreciate all the efforts made by the Indian organisations in Hong Kong, including the OIO, in promoting and maintaining such vital ties. Building on our long history of co-operation, there is much more that we can offer each other. I believe that the strong bonding we share, for business and for pleasure, at government, corporate and community levels, will continue to prosper.
Before I close, I would like to thank our Indian community for your enormous contributions to Hong Kong's growth, prosperity and cultural diversity. I'm sure you will continue to prevail and proposer in Hong Kong.
Ends/Tuesday, August 15, 2017