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Speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Henry Tang, at the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Information Infrastructure Expo and Conference 2003

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Henry Tang, at the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Information Infrastructure Expo and Conference 2003 today (February 19): (English only)

Michael, distinguished delegates and guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be invited to officiate at the opening of the Hong Kong Information Infrastructure Expo and Conference 2003. I would first like to extend a warm welcome to our overseas and Mainland delegates who travel to Hong Kong, Asia's world city, to take part in this event.

Since its inception back in 1998, this event has grown to become one of the major IT and telecommunications events in the region. It has witnessed the development of Hong Kong as a leading digital city. We are now ranked by the International Telecommunications Union as the first worldwide in its Mobile/Internet Index. We have been selected as the venue to hold major international IT and telecommunications events like ITU TELECOM Asia 2000 and 2002.

We have full broadband coverage for all our commercial buildings and over 98 per cent of our domestic households. Our mobile phone, household computer and Internet penetration rates are amongst the highest in the world. We have one of the widest utilisations of smart card globally, with over 9 million e-payment smart cards circulating in the market for a population of 7 million people.

Starting from the middle of this year, we will roll out a multi-application smart identity card to our citizens which will enable us to carry out various value-added E-government and e-commerce applications. With this readily available common platform, we will soon be able to establish one of the largest client bases in the world for the conduct of e-commerce.

All these clearly demonstrate that we have built up an advanced information infrastructure and nurtured an IT-oriented community, and these are the key elements for the growth of a leading digital city.

The Hong Kong Government is firmly committed to further driving our IT and telecommunications development, and our growth as a leading digital city. And the holding of the annual Information Infrastructure Expo and Conference is a crucial element in our overall strategy. Through this event, we will be able to bring overseas and Mainland delegates together with the local IT and telecommunications industry for cross-fertilisation, creation of synergy, and exploring collaboration and business opportunities.

I am confident that you will be able to find your potential partners through various networking and business-matching activities, or identify the right business solutions for your operation in the exhibition. Opportunities are indeed everywhere, and these are what Hong Kong can bring to you.

A new feature this year which should be highlighted is the side visits to the high-growth cities in the Pearl River Delta which the event will organise for local and overseas delegates. These visits will help enhance participants' understanding of the enormous opportunities in the Mainland IT and telecommunications market following China's accession to the World Trade Organisation. The visits will also be an excellent occasion for participants to explore business opportunities in the Pearl River Delta.

Before I close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hong Kong Trade Development Council for all its efforts and dedication in organising this important event, and also to thank all the supporting organisations which have worked together to make this a success. I wish you all gain useful insights and achieve fruitful results through participation in this event. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003