Speech by DGTI at the Official Dinner for APEC Delegates (27 June 2001)
Madam Zhang, distinguished APEC delegates, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, I would like to welcome delegates from APEC member economies to Hong Kong. Hong Kong, China is greatly honoured to have the opportunity to host the 12th meeting of the SME working Group. Also, I would like to congratulate Madam Zhang for her capable leadership. I understand that, thanks to her leadership, delegates had a very fruitful and productive discussion at the meeting and were able to cover all the discussion items in good time. I know that some of you have managed to squeeze some time from your busy schedule to do some shopping, so I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your part in helping to contribute to our economy. Indeed, some of the shops you have visited could well be SMEs, so you will have put into practice, in the most pragmatic manner, what we have always been preaching, i.e. to support the growth and development of SMEs!
- I understand that
one of the topics that delegates have discussed during the Working Group
meeting was how the Working Group could enhance outreach and continue
the interaction with the business community. We have put this most laudable
aim into practice this evening by inviting representatives from our
local SME community, including the Chairman and members of the SME Committee,
a high level advisory body appointed by the Chief Executive, to join
this dinner. I believe that the presence of our local guests will help
facilitate cross fertilisation of ideas on common problems facing SMEs
in the region.
- I appreciate that
delegates already have had very intensive discussions on issues relating
to SMEs, both at the meeting yesterday and at the SME Seminar on Corporate
Governance this afternoon, and may like to take a break this evening.
So I do not intend to overburden you with more SME stuff before the
dinner. I must however share with you another very important SME event
that has taken place just today here in Hong Kong. Those of you who
have participated in this afternoon's SME Seminar will have already
learnt about this from my colleague Eugene. Yes, I am referring to the
SME Committee's submission of a report on support measures for SMEs
to our Chief Executive this morning.
- For those of you
who have missed this afternoon's Seminar, the SME Committee's published
report contains over 30 proposed support measures, to help SMEs in Hong
Kong to "start a new business", "build a new business",
and "expand a business". The key recommendation of the Committee
is to set up four funding schemes totalling HK$1.3 billion (i.e. about
US$160 million) to help SMEs to raise capital, upgrade human resources,
expand overseas markets, and enhance overall competitiveness. The remaining
recommendations are support measures relating to the six areas of business
environment, financing, corporate governance and culture, human resources,
technology application, and market expansion.
- The Government
will be carefully considering the Committee's recommendations in detail,
with a view to coming up with a proposed way forward for the Chief Executive's
consideration as soon as practicable.
- The report is an
important milestone in HK's SME support efforts.. Once its recommendations
are endorsed by the Government, the report will become our blueprint
for promoting SME development. It is a document to which we in Hong
Kong attach the greatest significance, and I would welcome feedback
from all of you after you have had the opportunity to study it.
- In more ways than
one the report echoes and supports the theme of this year's APEC SME
Ministerial Meeting, "New Century, New Challenges : Innovation
and Environment for SME Development". Indeed, the title of the
report, "Staying Ahead : Smart, Motivated, Enterprising" underlines
the crucial importance of SMEs to move with the times if they are to
stay competitive in a fast changing world. This is true not only for
SMEs in Hong Kong, but also for SMEs in all APEC economies. No doubt
the coming Ministerial Meeting will provide plenty of opportunities
for all of us to reflect further on this subject, and hopefully to map
out a strategy to respond to the new challenges in the new century.
- I have promised to keep my speech short, so I will stop here so that the serious business of wining and dining can get under way. I would like to conclude by inviting [the senior officials of ]the Mainland delegation to join me to propose three toasts:
- First, to the successful conclusion of the 12th APEC SME Working Group Meeting;
- Second, to closer co-operation among APEC member economies; and
- Last but not the least, to the good health of everyone present this evening.
- Thank you.