Speech by SCED at signing ceremony of Hong Kong-New Zealand Arrangement on Co-operation on Wine-related Business (English only)
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, at the signing ceremony for the Hong Kong-New Zealand Arrangement on Co-operation on Wine-related Business today (October 28):
Financial Secretary, Minister Groser, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here today to seal the Co-operation Arrangement on Wine-related Business with New Zealand. It is a great pleasure to welcome Minister of Trade Tim Groser, who has travelled all the way from New Zealand to join us for this signing ceremony. Minister Groser is a good friend of Hong Kong and has played an important role in forging closer New Zealand-Hong Kong ties over the years.
Today's signing ceremony is all about wine business and trade. Last year, New Zealand was our 10th largest source of wine imports. The value of wine imports from New Zealand amounted to HK$39 million in 2008, an increase of 36% year-on-year. Wine trade is a rising star in our bilateral trade with great potential for further expansion.
When our Financial Secretary eliminated wine duties in his Budget last year, Hong Kong became the first free wine port among major economies. The market responded very positively: wine imports have increased; trading and distribution business has grown and wine companies are expanding their storage facilities. Perhaps the most dramatic development has been the return of wine auctions to Hong Kong with 10 sales held so far this year.
In parallel, the Government of the HKSAR is pursuing measures to fortify Hong Kong's position as a regional wine trading and distribution hub. This includes customs facilitation, trade and investment promotion, manpower training and education, possible use of heritage buildings for wine-related purposes and combating counterfeits.
The signing of this Co-operation Arrangement is well timed. Hong Kong is about to hold its first Wine and Dine Festival and we have our second International Wine and Spirits Fair next week.
The Wine and Dine Festival is an important milestone in Hong Kong's efforts to develop the wine industry. As well as being an exciting social occasion, the festival will give people the chance to taste wines from around the world, including of course New Zealand wine. They can also indulge in pairing wine and food with Victoria Harbour providing a spectacular backdrop for the event along the West Kowloon harbourfront.
Also, building on the success of last year's International Wine and Spirits Fair, the second edition of the event next week will be even bigger with double the number of exhibitors compared to 2008. No doubt, the New Zealand Pavilion will be popular with visitors to the fair.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Hong Kong can play a key role in satisfying the growing appetite for wine in Asia and particularly in the Mainland of China.
With rapid economic growth and changing lifestyles, the wine industry predicts that the Mainland will lead global demand for wine in the next decade and beyond.
Hong Kong has strong foundations as an international trade, business and financial centre. We also have a great deal of experience as the premier gateway for overseas companies, including New Zealand firms, to reach the vast Mainland markets.
The signing of this Co-operation Arrangement will benefit both our economies. It will boost Hong Kong's development as a regional hub for wine trading and distribution. And at the same time, it will enhance our role as an efficient and reliable avenue for New Zealand to grow its wine exports to Hong Kong, the Mainland and throughout East Asia.
Above all, this signing is another step towards even closer bilateral relations between Hong Kong and our friends in New Zealand.
Ends/Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Issued at HKT 11:05