Speech by DGTI at welcome dinner hosted by Hong Kong Federation of Overseas Chinese Associations for delegation of Kadin Indonesia (English only)
Friday, October 14, 2011
Following is the speech by the Director-General of Trade and Industry, Ms Maria Kwan, at the welcome dinner hosted by the Hong Kong Federation of Overseas Chinese Associations for the delegation of Kadin Indonesia today (October 14):
Chairman Sulisto (Suryo Bambang), Chairman Tahir (Dato' Sri), Chairman Yu (Kwok-chun), distinguished members of Kadin Indonesia, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening! I would like to thank Mr Yu, Chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Overseas Chinese Associations, for inviting me to join this dinner. I also feel greatly honoured to be asked to say a few words. First of all, let me extend a warm welcome to the delegation of Kadin Indonesia and I hope you all have a very enjoyable stay in Hong Kong. I would also like to take this opportunity to talk a little about Hong Kong's economic and trade relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Indonesia and the business potential ahead.
Our bilateral trade relations with Southeast Asian economies started long ago. It began with trade in agricultural products, food and natural resources, and gradually expanded to almost everything under the sun now. Last year, the bilateral trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN reached US$85.4 billion, of which Indonesia's share amounts to US$5.4 billion. ASEAN has surpassed the European Union to become Hong Kong's second largest trading partner, only after Mainland China. As ASEAN members invest in developing their services industries, Hong Kong, as an international trading, financial and logistics centre, also sees a steady and considerable expansion in our services trade with ASEAN.
The opening up of the Mainland market led to decades of substantial economic growth for Hong Kong. At the same time, it reinforced Hong Kong's bridging role in trade between the Mainland and ASEAN. More recently, with globalisation, each of the ASEAN members, Hong Kong and the Mainland, leveraging on their respective advantages, are more tightly linked in the global supply chain. We have all come together and depend more on each other in producing and selling goods and services to different markets.
The financial tsunami in 2008 has proved the common resolve and resilience of this region. While at this time recovery in major markets such as the US and Europe still looks a little fragile, the pace of recovery in our region is more promising. The East Asian economies have great potential that cannot wait to be released. Hong Kong and ASEAN members should grasp the opportunity by developing a strategy for fostering closer economic and trade co-operation among ourselves.
Hong Kong spares no effort in strengthening our economic and trade ties with ASEAN and Indonesia, which has an abundance of natural resources and manpower and hence gigantic productivity potential. Hong Kong has open markets, free flows of information and capital, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a low and simple tax regime, quality professional support services and good infrastructure. The complementary advantages of both sides make for a perfect match in exploring business opportunities in the global and regional markets.
When we talk about trade in Hong Kong we cannot not touch on CEPA, the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. CEPA is an evolving platform. It covers trade in goods, trade in services and trade and investment facilitation. CEPA enables Hong Kong products that meet agreed CEPA origin rules to go into the Mainland market tariff-free. CEPA also enables investors in Hong Kong from all over the world including ASEAN to enjoy the benefits it provides in accessing the Mainland market. During his recent visit to Hong Kong in August, the Vice-Premier of the State Council, Mr Li Keqiang, among other things, announced that the Mainland would greatly increase its openness to Hong Kong in trade in services and that before the end of the National 12th Five-Year Plan period, thanks to CEPA, liberalisation of trade in services between the Mainland and Hong Kong would be basically achieved. He also said that the Central Government would continue to support Hong Kong in its participation in international and regional economic co-operation with Hong Kong's involvement in East Asia regional co-operation as a priority. I am therefore very optimistic about the growth potential of our economic and trade relations with ASEAN and Indonesia in the years ahead.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank you all for your contribution to building the close bilateral economic relations between ASEAN and Indonesia with Hong Kong. I look forward to your continued support in the years ahead.
Thank you very much.