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The Way Forward for TDC Services and Products by Dr Victor Fung Chairman, Hong Kong Trade Development Council

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I would like to welcome you all very warmly to this Market Day reception and to the Extension to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. I know for many this is the first opportunity we have had to invite you to visit this new landmark of Hong Kong.

Just three years ago, where we are all standing now, was water - a part of the harbour. Now it is the largest - and finest - conference and exhibition facility in Asia.

It is a real testament to what can be achieved in Hong Kong, when a common vision is harnessed to our well known entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic.

Hong Kong has just come through probably the most momentous celebration in its history. Come through it with flying colours and memorable images, not least of which is this magnificent building.

We have been in the world spotlight. Now, more than ever before, people know about Hong Kong. They have seen for themselves how determined we are to build an even better future. Now, more than ever, Hong Kong people have a sense of belonging to a great nation, a sense that we are part of a bigger destiny as a Special Administrative Region of China.

A New Era

So, on July 1, Hong Kong entered a new era. We also got straight back to work without missing a beat! In a scant two-and-a-half years we will enter another new era - the 21st Century. Over the past year many people have asked me about the future of Hong Kong, talking mainly about the handover. I have always tried to engage them in discussion about the longer-term future. The future role of Hong Kong in the Asia-Pacific region. And Hong Kong competitive strengths for the years that lie ahead.

I truly believe that this fabulous addition to our Convention and Exhibition Centre will support both our role in the region (which increasingly is the business hub of the Asia-Pacific), and also play to our strengths in trading and services.

For the last few years we have been constrained in expanding our trade fairs because the existing centre has been operating at capacity. Now we have the room to push our exhibitions and conventions to a new and even more international level.

The Extension is also a symbol, along with all the other major infrastructural projects presently under construction, of our dedication to strengthen Hong Kong ability to lead business in Asia.

Building the Future

Take a look around. Chek Lap Kok is nearing completion. We are expanding our container port facilities - already the world largest. There is a new harbour crossing, the world longest rail and road suspension bridge, and new rail and road links to China.

Everywhere Hong Kong is building for the future.

Wee also building Asia communications centre. By having more international media based here than anywhere else in Asia. By having the fastest growth rate in Internet usage. And the freest flowing information, which is crucial for business.

We are also building the services centre for the region. Advertisers, lawyers, engineers, consultants - Hong Kong is now the knowledge and ideas centre for Asia.

And probably first and foremost we already are the international financial centre serving the region. With a breadth and depth to our financial services not found elsewhere. And the strength that comes from being the world fourth largest source of foreign direct investment.

What has all this to do with Market Day ?

This is the backdrop against which the TDC promotes Hong Kong companies and Hong Kong economy around the world. This is the "product" we have to sell - the competitiveness of Hong Kong and Hong Kong companies. And all around us in this exhibition are the practical TDC services and projects we have developed to help Hong Kong companies market their products, services and competitive strengths.

The TDC Mission and Objectives

As you know the TDC was founded 30 years ago to do four main things:

  • develop and diversify markets for Hong Kong companies
  • enhance the image of Hong Kong products and services in the world markets
  • strengthen Hong Kong lead as Asia capital for trade fairs and exhibitions
  • foster a favourable trading environment for Hong Kong and build international support for Hong Kong continuing role as a regional business centre

On the occasion of this Market Day, and just after the formation of the Special Administrative Region, I would like to take this opportunity to re-affirm our commitment to the mission and overall objectives.

It is easy over the course of 30 years to lose track of what you do well. That goes for both trade promotion bodies and much larger entities like Hong Kong. Now is a natural time to re-dedicate ourselves to the things that have made Hong Kong and especially our economy so great.

Hard work. Vision. Free trade. A level playing-field for business. An unquenchable thirst to further the bonds of commerce and friendship with both the Chinese mainland and our many overseas trading partners.

And lastly to provide even greater support for the strong entrepreneurial spirit, as embodied in the hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises which are the back bone of Hong Kong economy.

That perhaps more than anything else is the TDC real mission.

How the TDC Helps

For more than 30 years TDC has been helping small and medium-sized companies to do business with the world.

Their success has been remarkable. Today, there are approximately 100,000 trading companies in Hong Kong, and about 98 % of them are small and medium-sized enterprises. 40 % of these SME now have transnational experience and operate in two or more countries.

Through all of this success, the TDC has been there for SME, giving them the wherewithal to compete at the cutting edge of global commerce.

We have Asia largest databank of business contacts - some 624,000 names from around the world - enabling companies to get in touch with Hong Kong partners and vice versa.

TDC also publishes 22 trade publications offering information on all the major industries in Hong Kong. Information that is particularly valuable to smaller companies without large research staffs.

TDC is active overseas. With our network of 51 offices around the world, we provide worldwide business intelligence and an entry point to many different markets. Again of crucial importance to Hong Kong traders.

We also organise an extensive international programme of high-level seminars on various aspects of Hong Kong economy.

I believe this list of the "products" and services TDC offers mirrors those which Hong Kong itself offers. They can be divided into two broad categories: high value-added information services and what I call our international dimension.

In the years ahead I think it will become even more important for Hong Kong to nurture and promote its international credentials. As a place where business the world over can feel comfortable, and can get things done, in Asia, efficiently and competitively.

At the moment Hong Kong has more multinational regional headquarter operations than any other place in the Asia-Pacific. Hong Kong is used as the premier "Gateway to China" by many, many international firms.

And as I said, we are also the region services, financial, business, transportation, and communication hub.

The world relies on Hong Kong as its business supermarket in Asia - the one place where you can get anything and everything you need. We must keep and expand on this role.

And increasingly Hong Kong is also becoming a supermarket for ideas.

A knowledge centre - where the skills that will fuel growth in the new century are already on display. And a place where the blueprints for many projects and dreams, for the Asia-Pacific further economic development, will be worked out in the years to come.

It is this confluence of our international character, our regional - especially Chinese mainland - connections and our information capabilities that I believe will continue to make Hong Kong invaluable to world business.

The same confluence of strengths is apparent within the TDC. Our support for developing international business relations is strong. The TDC supports and serves as secretariat for two high-level bilateral committees, the Hong Kong/US and US/Hong Kong Economic Co-operation Committees and the Hong Kong/Japan Business Co-operation Committee.

The TDC regularly organises trade missions from all parts of the world to further promote business and an understanding of Hong Kong economy.

And we play host to countless government delegations eager to learn more about Hong Kong and share information about their economies.

These international and informational strengths are invaluable to Hong Kong SME. Keeping them abreast of changes internationally, sharpening their competitive edge and advancing their interests.

As economic ties between the Hong Kong SAR and the Chinese mainland continue to deepen and widen, the TDC will be particularly concerned in years to come with helping our SME do business there. At the moment we have a network of 11 offices in the mainland ready and willing to help Hong Kong companies maximise their resources in doing business with their mainland counterparts. We also help mainland enterprises reach out to the world markets through Hong Kong.

As you know the economic ties between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland are already very strong. Hong Kong accounts for 60 % of all foreign direct investment in China, handles 50 % of all trade to and from China and provides 30 % of the mainland foreign exchange earnings each year.

For its part, the mainland has about 2,000 enterprises here, from every imaginable sector. And investments totalling more than US$ 25 billion.

In this new and historic era of "one country, two systems", China continues confidently along the path of economic reform and market opening. And TDC is well placed to help Hong Kong companies participate fully in the mutually beneficial business opportunities unfolding.

TDC Service Promotion

Finally, there is one major area that is crucial to TDC efforts to help Hong Kong SME and that is service promotion.

Last March the TDC was asked by the Financial Secretary to promote Hong Kong services more vigourously, given that they make up more than 80 % of Hong Kong鷔 GDP.

I can tell you now that in the 16 months since then we have done more than we thought possible.

We quickly set up 4 service advisory committees to help steer our work.

We held high-level service seminars around the world. General seminars on Hong Kong economy, and specific sectoral seminars on infrastructure, transportation and finance just to name a few.

We have also launched new service-oriented trade fairs, perhaps the most prominent being Filmart. Hong Kong is the world third largest producer of motion pictures and second largest exporter of films. Now we have our own film market and exhibition, where overseas buyers can meet distributors and finalise deals.

All of these actions provide support for firms doing business in the area of services. But, importantly, it also serves notice: that the TDC and Hong Kong will not stand still on the economic front.

We are committed to furthering Hong Kong competitive strengths, promoting our role as the business hub of Asia, and redoubling our efforts in supporting Hong Kong companies on the mainland, across the region and throughout the world.

Conclusion

During this year Market Day we will obviously be putting our best foot forward - exhibiting all our "products" and services under one roof. It happens to be the most spectacular roof in Hong Kong. I hope wel succeed in conveying the sense of confidence, energy and vision that myself and the TDC have for the future.

Hong Kong has recently begun a new and exciting era. I believe the Hong Kong SAR will soar to even greater heights as Asia international hub for business and finance, serving the mainland Chinese economy and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

I hope you all have a good evening and a fruitful visit to our Market Day Exhibition over the next two days.

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Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council