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Trade and Industry Department The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
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Speeches

DGTI's speech at the Opening Ceremony of the Asian Industrial Expo 2002
Wednesday, August 28, 2002

The following is the full text of the speech by the Director-General of Trade and Industry, Mr Joshua Law at the opening ceremony of the Asian Industrial Expo 2002 today (August 28):(English only)

Mr. Tang, Mr Lai, Mr Chan, Mr Cheung, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to officiate at the opening ceremony of the Asian Industrial Expo 2002 : one of the largest exhibitions in Asia on manufacturing and industrial technologies, machinery and parts, in particular moulds and dies and auto parts. I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all of you, in particular friends from overseas and the Mainland.

The other day, my wife baked a cake for our family. She added water and milk to the ready-made cake-mix and pour them into a mould to make the fillings, used a ready-made crust for the base, and placed icings and toppings on the top of the cake. The cake was delicious: and I do mean it. But while my wife’s inputs are no doubt instrumental to this successful and delicious experiment, I know that the cake would not taste and look half as good if the ingredients or the mould she used were not good. Which is another way of saying how important components and parts are to final products, just as crust, cake-mix and mould are important to the baking of a cake.

As an international convention and exhibition centre, Hong Kong plays host to over 400 international trade fairs and exhibitions every year. Exhibition organisers choose Hong Kong to stage exhibitions not just because of the excellent exhibition venues and facilities we offer, not just because of our geographical advantage as the transportation hub in Asia. They choose Hong Kong also because of our strength as a global sourcing centre, and the availability of a resourceful pool of manufacturers, suppliers, traders, and auxiliary service providers in Hong Kong so that potential buyers could effectively source what they need, sellers could easily locate their customers, and there could be efficient exchange of market information. I believe these are also the reasons why we have this Expo in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a major producer and supplier of tools, parts, components and accessories for machines and equipment, as well as moulds and dies. In 2001, Hong Kong's domestic exports of these items amounted to HK$10.3 billion. Hong Kong also produces machinery, equipment, and a wide range of electronic products, with an export value of HK$22.7 billion in 2001. Altogether, these items contribute to more than 20% of Hong Kong's domestic export values.

We have a long history of producing metals and plastics parts for machinery and equipment. We have long carved a niche as a producer of high quality and hi-precision parts for sophisticated products, such as computers, printers, audio-visual equipment, home electronics, and automated machines. We have been extremely successful in enhancing the competitiveness of our products, through carrying out mass production in places with lower operation costs such as the Mainland and other neighbouring economies, and through enhancing the value-added content of the products. Hong Kong manufacturers supply critical parts and components to top-notch international brand-name manufacturers, and have captured a significant share of the global market. For example, a Hong Kong manufacturer of micro-motors, Johnson Electric, is now the world’s largest producer in the field.

On moulds and dies, our strength is innovative design, R&D, and unsurpassed craftsmanship. I was told that Hong Kong is probably the only place in the world where individual mould makers possess all the skills and know all the processes for making a mould, rather than just know the skills of a particular process. Very often, Hong Kong's mould and die manufacturers are the preferred choice of clients worldwide looking for moulds and dies of sophisticated design and superb craftsmanship. The high added value of these moulds makes it viable for mould manufacturers to operate in Hong Kong in spite of the operatingcost considerations.

While Hong Kong is a relatively new player in the auto parts industry, we are learning fast. There are more and more auto parts manufacturers in Hong Kong. Many of them have attained QS-9000 standard, which qualifies them to become the first-tier suppliers to US automobile makers. In fact, many of the existing models of the world’s leading automobile makers are running on auto parts produced by Hong Kong companies.

For many years, Hong Kong has been a global sourcing centre for a wide spectrum of goods and services. Today’s Expo further demonstrates Hong Kong's unique role as such. With over 400 local, Mainland and overseas exhibitors, and 30 000 expected visitors participating, this Expo provides a golden opportunity for buyers and sellers from different parts of the supply chain to make business deals, and to keep themselves updated on the latest products, inventions, and market information.

As the process of globalisation deepens and as Mainland China further opens its markets following its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Hong Kong's status as a global sourcing centre will be strengthened.

To enable us to maintain our stronghold in the Mainland market despite the growing competition after its WTO accession, we are now conducting consultations with the Mainland on a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), under which goods and services produced by Hong Kong will enjoy further and substantial market access in the Mainland in a faster and more efficient manner. The successful conclusion of CEPA will provide further development opportunities for SMEs in a wide spectrum of industries. On the multilateral front, a new round of WTO negotiations, known as the Doha Development Round, was launched in November last year, with a view to further reducing or eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers among member economies. We are seeking input from our industries before formulating our negotiating strategy. The ambitious outcome of this new round of negotiations will likely bring substantial benefits to Hong Kong's trade and industries in the long term. Though it is not an easy round of talks, given its tight timeframe and the different interests among WTO members, Hong Kong will spare no efforts in playing an active and constructive role in these negotiations in close partnership with other key players, and in consultation with our industries, to ensure that we achieve meaningful and timely results.

As ever, Government will continue to strive to create a conducive trading and business environment. At the same time, I would like to urge our enterprising businessmen to equip themselves to seize emerging business opportunities in Hong Kong, the Mainland, and elsewhere. In an increasingly globalised economy, it is important that we are innovative, adoptable, and responsive to market changes. I would encourage our industrialists to move up the value chain through quality enhancement and brand building. Above all, build capabilities by leveraging on Hong Kong's advantages: our world class infrastructure, our low tax regime, and our well trained manpower.

In closing, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the organisers and all the collaborating parties for organizing this Expo. From what I see this morning, I am sure that visitors and exhibitors alike will find the Expo fruitful, and that the event will be a huge success.

Thank you.

END/