Speech by DGTI at the Five Regions Fastener Association Conference 2010 (English only)
Friday, October 8, 2010
Following is the speech by the Director-General of Trade and Industry, Ms Maria Kwan, at the Five Regions Fastener Association Conference 2010 today (October 8):
Mr Chan, Dr Tsui (Edward), Dr Wong (David), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to join you here today. First of all, I would like to congratulate the Hong Kong Screw and Fastener Council and The Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong for bringing this prestigious regional event to Hong Kong for the first time. Secondly, I would like to join Dr Tsui, Dr Wong and others in extending a warm welcome to our guests from overseas.
Ladies and gentlemen, you know better than anyone else how important screws and fasteners are. They are needed practically everywhere. They are members of every household. They are key players in factories, schools, hospitals, hotels and offices. Being a part of every transportation vehicle, they are on the road, at sea, on planes, and even in space. Indeed, screws and fasteners are the "heart and soul" of all tools and machines, and your industry provides the essential component that brings everything together.
Similar to many other industries, the screw and fastener industries are facing many business challenges nowadays: cost pressures, labour shortages, globalised competition, tightened regulatory requirements like the many European Union Directives, such as the Restriction on the use of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS), and the Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), and, not least, demanding customers who expect better quality all the time. In addition, branding will not be easy for your industry. To turn adversity into opportunity, industry players must constantly go with the times and enhance their competitiveness. The move towards high technology and high value-added activities will no doubt be a continuing process.
Given the increasing emphasis on sustainable development and environmental protection, the theme of this year's conference "Screw and Fastener and Environmental Protection" is most apt. I am glad to note that the trade is putting increasing emphasis on green production.
My department, i.e. the Trade and Industry Department, also tries to facilitate the process through the use of the SME Development Fund (SDF), a fund for supporting projects to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs in general or in specific sectors. Several projects have been approved under the SDF to help industry players to get better prepared for regulatory change like the implementation of REACH. Two of these projects were in fact initiated by the Chinese Manufacturers' Association, the parent of the Hong Kong Screw and Fastener Council. Through a series of seminars, case studies and an international conference, these projects aim to enhance industries' technical understanding of REACH and develop practical solutions to fulfill the REACH regulations. Moreover, a resource centre was established as a helpdesk to provide consultation services and updates about the REACH regulation for all industries.
I understand that testing and certification plays a very important role in ensuring the quality of screws and fasteners. I thought you may like to know that the Hong Kong testing and certification sector in fact enjoys an excellent international reputation and is supported by a robust accreditation system. The Hong Kong Government has in fact identified testing and certification as one of the six economic areas where Hong Kong enjoys a clear advantage for further development. The Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification was established in 2009 to promote professional standards and international recognition of the industry, and a three-year market-oriented development plan has been formulated to enhance Hong Kong's edge.
The global financial crisis that broke out in 2008 has posed unprecedented challenges to industries worldwide. With the demand from major markets such as the US and European countries plummeting, the Mainland market will become one of the most important driving forces of the world's economy going forward.
Hong Kong has long been in a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) with the Mainland. For trade in goods, all Hong Kong products have enjoyed zero tariff in the Mainland market since January 1, 2006, provided that relevant CEPA origin rules are agreed and met. For trade in services, Hong Kong service suppliers currently enjoy preferential access in 42 services areas in the Mainland. CEPA does not impose any restriction on the source of investment of service suppliers or manufacturers. Foreign investors are therefore welcome to set up manufacturing operations in Hong Kong or establish their business here to qualify as a Hong Kong Service Supplier to leverage on the preferential treatment offered under CEPA.
Ladies and gentlemen, the conference today will no doubt provide a very good opportunity for fruitful exchanges on the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. I am sure the discussions ahead and the success stories you share will be riveting! I wish the conference every success. Lastly, I also hope that you will take time out to enjoy the good shopping and dining in Hong Kong and the many other attractions that Hong Kong offers.