23 Oct 2001
Fifth Beijing-Hong Kong Economic Co-operation Symposium
Beijing and Hong Kong have been taking turns hosting this annual economic co-operation symposium since 1997. It is particularly meaningful that this year's symposium is held in Beijing, since it has just won the bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games. Beijing has also become the centre of national attention, even global attention, with China's imminent entry into the WTO.
Beijing 2008 - A Historic Opportunity for Development
Beijing's successful Olympic bid is not just a cause for celebration for the sports world. It also provides a historic opportunity for the nation to pool its resources and embark on diverse construction programmes over the next seven years. While sharing Beijing's delight in its successful bid, Hong Kong also hopes to make its contribution as a support unit and, in 2008, to see the whole world cheer for Beijing and for our country.
What can Hong Kong contribute to Beijing over the coming seven years? I believe we can make a contribution by assisting in fund raising and providing professional services.
Raising Funds for Beijing's Construction and Development
With the 10th Five-Year Plan entering its second year and the bid to host the Olympic Games achieving success, Beijing is in the process to launch a series of large-scale Olympic-related construction projects over the next seven years. Hong Kong can help raise the funds necessary for these projects, as we remain one of the major centres for fund raising in the world in spite of the financial crisis and the global economic downturn.
Hong Kong - The Heart of Asia
According to the World Investment Report 2001 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in September this year, Hong Kong is the largest recipient, as well as source, of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Asia. FDI inflows and outflows amount to nearly HK$1 trillion last year. Much of this investment has gone to the mainland via Hong Kong.
In other words, Hong Kong is the most powerful FDI pump of Asia, continually absorbing investment from various parts of the world and supplying capital to the mainland. Hong Kong is now the biggest source of foreign investment in Beijing. It is also Beijing's major window to the international financial market. Hong Kong companies and investment accounted for 40% of foreign investment in the capital at the end of 2000. While Hong Kong companies have contributed considerable funds and services towards Beijing's modernisation drive, Hong Kong owes its economic prosperity to the mainland’s rapid economic development. Naturally Beijing is also an important force in boosting Hong Kong's economic growth.
In order to make Beijing 2008 a success, Beijing will launch a massive programme to build the Olympic Village, improve its transportation and telecommunication infrastructure, as well as clean up the environment. With a view to 2008, Beijing and Hong Kong must step up co-operation so that Hong Kong can do a more efficient job raising the necessary funds for these infrastructure projects.
One-stop Solutions for Infrastructure
In addition to funds, Beijing also needs professional expertise in areas such as construction, project consultancy, electrical and mechanical engineering, project planning, project financing, surveying and environmental protection for its infrastructure projects. With its wealth of experience, Hong Kong should be able to work side by side with Beijing in these areas.
Hong Kong's rapid infrastructural development over the last two decades has bred a community of service providers with international experience and standards. Since they have already participated in large infrastructure projects in the mainland, they understand the requirements of different provinces and cities and have hands-on experience working in the mainland. Hong Kong is ready to provide one-stop solutions from financing to project completion anytime Beijing needs our assistance. It will be our honour and our aspiration to be involved in Beijing's construction projects.
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre - A Successful Model for Hong Kong's Infrastructure and Exhibition Sectors
I am sure that you have all visited the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) where the ceremonies marking Hong Kong's history was held. As the base for exhibitions in Asia, it generates a good deal of business for Hong Kong each year. The extension project of the HKCEC is unique in its design. Construction was technically demanding, and there was a race against time, as the completion date could not be deferred. The entire project, from land reclamation for the man-made island to the construction of the main architectural frame and the fitting out of the facilities, was completed in 39 months. As a monument to the high standards, efficiency and drive of Hong Kong's infrastructure construction industry, it impressed distinguished guests from all over the world who took part in the grand ceremony celebrating the establishment of the SAR Government.
The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre provides a successful model as the crystallization of Hong Kong's infrastructure and exhibition industries. The international trade exhibitions held under its roof have not only generated orders for companies in Hong Kong, the mainland and other parts of the world, but have brought large numbers of business travellers to Hong Kong. These high-spending businessmen generate billions of dollars in revenue and bring benefits to all sectors, from hotel to florists. I understand that co-operation in the convention and exhibition sector is a major focus in this year's economic co-operation symposium. I hope that experts in the industry will take this opportunity to compare notes and exchange experience.
Hong Kong's Services Sector Providing Backup to Beijing
The successful Olympic bid and entry into the WTO will hasten Beijing's development and economic transformation and turn Beijing into an economy dominated by the tertiary industry. There are already some 7,000 foreign representative offices and over 400 multinational companies in Beijing today, and the number of foreign-invested and domestic enterprises setting up base in the city is bound to increase in the years ahead. Their demand for services in areas such as legal, trade arbitration, accountancy, insurance, banking, advertising, marketing, exhibitions and logistics management is bound to soar following China's entry into the WTO. Beijing must provide services to the business sector while stepping up construction. As a global trade centre and the window for China's foreign trade, Hong Kong has a community of services providers who are familiar with international and domestic trade operations. These firms can also make their contributions to Beijing.
Beijing and Hong Kong companies will be exploring prospects for co-operation in the infrastructure and services sectors today and tomorrow. They will also be exchanging views on co-operation in the areas of conventions, exhibitions and logistics.
Two-Way Economic Co-operation
Looking into the future, we can see increased two-way co-operation between Beijing and Hong Kong. Hong Kong services providers will be heading north while Beijing enterprises and establishments will be coming south. As the marketing arm of Hong Kong services and products, the TDC hopes to play its part in this process by providing timely business information to enterprises in both places. The TDC has already established an inter-departmental task force on the Beijing Olympics to keep Hong Kong companies abreast of related development plans over the next seven years. We have also set up a special database in our website on infrastructure projects announced by Beijing. Our Beijing office will keep in close liaison with government departments and enterprises in the Capital to promote co-operation between the two places. The TDC will also arrange for Hong Kong companies to take part in exhibitions and trade promotion activities in Beijing. As one example, we will be bringing a big delegation to take part in the China International Clothing and Accessories Fair (CHIC) next March.
Beijing Enterprises Taking Part in Hong Kong Exhibitions
I hope that more Beijing enterprises will consider participating in trade exhibitions in Hong Kong. Our exhibitions for electronics, toys, garments, watches and clocks, gifts and eyewear are among the largest in Asia. The Hong Kong Electronics Fair, which was held last week has attracted an encouraging number of overseas buyers in spite of the attacks on the United States in September. My recommendation is that Beijing enterprises should make full use of exhibitions in Hong Kong to expand their business.
Hong Kong Expo
The Trade Development Council also plans to host an annual Hong Kong Expo in Beijing to present Hong Kong products and services in their best to the Capital. This will be a major annual event for the promotion of Beijing-Hong Kong economic co-operation and trade. We hope that Beijing will give us its support.
Last but not least, allow me to wish the Fifth Beijing-Hong Kong Economic Co-operation Symposium every success.