Speeches and Presentations

SCED's speech at inauguration of General Electric Company Global Growth and Operations Office

Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the inauguration of the General Electric (GE) Company Global Growth and Operations Office this evening (August 26):

John (Rice, Vice Chairman, GE, and President and CEO, GE Global Growth and Operations), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.

It is my great pleasure to join you today. I would like to offer our warmest congratulations on the grand opening of this global headquarters for GE.

I would also like to thank GE for choosing Hong Kong as the base from which it will undertake its Global Growth and Operations business.

We are delighted that GE has made such a major move to Hong Kong, and we welcome your confidence in our city.

There are several very good reasons why Hong Kong is chosen by more than 3,600 companies as the place to manage regional and even global operations. According to an annual Census and Statistics Department survey of overseas companies with business operations in Hong Kong, the top five reasons include a simple tax system and low tax rates; the free flow of information; a corruption-free government; the absence of exchange controls; and political stability and security.

We are proud of Hong Kong's many advantages and the accolades that come with them. Let me highlight just a few: Our city has been named as the world's freest economy by the US-based Heritage Foundation for 17 years in a row. It was the world's third largest FDI recipient in 2010 and has been Asia's second largest FDI recipient (after Mainland China) for 13 consecutive years, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

But we are not complacent in our pursuit of an even more investor-friendly business environment. And in this endeavour we are supported by the Central Government. Last week, the Vice-Premier of the State Council, Mr Li Keqiang, visited Hong Kong and announced a package of further supportive measures that evolved through discussion with the Central Government.

Of the measures relevant to my portfolio of work, we are looking forward to further liberalisation of the trade in services within this year and achieving full liberalisation of the same by the end of 2015. All these come under the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA. One important element of CEPA is that it is nationality neutral, and foreign companies incorporated in Hong Kong are entitled to its full benefits.

Under the support of the Central Government, we also look forward to more active participation in multi-lateral and regional economic co-operation. This is important for Hong Kong in terms of enhancing our status as an international trading, shipping and financial centre.

Ultimately, however, the best judge of our business environment is the private sector. In this, the establishment of GE's global headquarters signifies a terrific vote of confidence in Hong Kong.

It only remains for me to welcome the GE Global Growth and Operations team to our city. I wish you all every success with this initiative, and hope that you have a wonderful experience here in the region's leading business and financial centre.

Thank you.

Friday, August 26, 2011