Forum to show green HK environment

Chief Executive CY Leung

The Government is committed to shaping a sustainable community, to ensuring that our future generations live, work and flourish in a city blessed with growth and diversity – a city that actively partakes in this emerging green age of Asia.

 

A few numbers make a telling statement about Hong Kong and the challenges we face. Our total area takes in only about 1,100 square kilometres. About 40% of that land is committed to conservation and recreation, protected within 24 country parks and 22 special areas. Our green reserve co-exists with built areas – space for Hong Kong’s 7.3 million people, their homes and businesses, their schools, hospitals, sports, recreation and other facilities.

 

More than breathtaking views, the co-existence of residential towers with mountains, development and nature, culminates to the unique charm of our city.

 

To preserve this delicate balance, we are determined to develop Hong Kong into a healthy, low-carbon, resource-efficient metropolis.

 

We have been striving towards that goal. Four years ago I started by recruiting an architect who was known for his passion for green buildings to join my government, well, not as Secretary for Development, but interestingly as Secretary for the Environment. And he is KS Wong. I suppose it says something about Hong Kong, something about the Hong Kong Government. We have a green architect in charge of the environment; we have a lawyer in charge of commerce and economy; and we have an accountant in charge of development.

 

Last year, we launched a new Energy Saving Plan for Hong Kong’s Built Environment 2015~2025+. It sets a new target – a 40% reduction in Hong Kong’s energy intensity by 2025.

 

Buildings account for some 90% of Hong Kong’s electricity consumption and 60% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Raising their environmental performance will have a powerful impact on the sustainability of our built environment. To lead the way, we have pledged that government buildings will reduce their electricity consumption by 5% over the next four years. We are also promoting green building in about 8,000 government structures.

 

More than 30 government buildings have now registered under BEAM Plus. BEAM – the Building Environmental Assessment Method – is a voluntary private-sector initiative conceived in the 1990s. It is Hong Kong’s rating tool for green buildings. BEAM Plus, the latest version, was launched in 2010.

 

The Trade & Industry Tower, commissioned last year, is a showcase of the Government’s efforts in green building. We have applied a series of renewable energy technologies, including a photovoltaic system, a solar hot water system, a solar chimney and sun tubes. The project makes use of rainwater for landscape irrigation, and adopts an automatic refuse-collection system as well as low-emitting materials. That, and more, have helped the project gain a Platinum rating in BEAM Plus’ Provisional Assessment.

 

As for new private developments, the Hong Kong Government has implemented a package of green building measures over the past five years. These include granting gross floor area concessions for green and amenity features to enhance our city’s living environment.

 

To gain such concessions, new buildings must incorporate sustainable design elements for building separation, permeability or setback, along with the provision of greenery features and environmental and energy consumption information.

 

We are now developing Community Green Stations for each of our 18 districts. Operated by non-profit-making organisations, the stations will enhance environmental education and help collect recyclables, especially those of low economic value. With multi-purpose rooms and other facilities, the stations also host exhibitions, seminars, workshops and other educational activities.

 

Two of the stations are now up and running. Sustainable and green-building elements were adopted at the design and construction stages, such as introducing greening on-site, using container modules and a variety of green construction materials.

 

On the broader district level, we have been taking some bold steps in promoting energy-efficiency. A District Cooling System, for example, has been incorporated into our Kai Tak development to reduce power consumption. A huge project, Kai Tak development spans about 320 hectares, covering Hong Kong’s former international airport and adjacent areas.

 

The District Cooling System – a centralised air-conditioning system – uses sea water to produce chilled water centrally, distributing it to consumer buildings in the Kai Tak development area through underground pipes. The system consumes 35% less electricity than traditional air-cooled, air-conditioning systems, and 20% less electricity than individual water-cooled, air-conditioning systems using cooling towers. The Trade & Industry Tower I mentioned earlier would be connected to this new system.

 

For long-term planning, we are now updating Hong Kong’s overall development strategy. Our goal is to make Hong Kong a smart, green and sustainable city by integrating green spaces as part of the planning process.

 

Next year in June, Hong Kong will host the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference. One of the largest events of its kind in the world, the conference will attract about 1,800 green building advocates, policymakers and academics.

 

This will be a seminal opportunity to showcase Hong Kong’s emerging green environment, while learning from green building experts and practitioners around the world. I look forward to seeing you there.

 

Chief Executive CY Leung gave these remarks at the 17th Asian Congress of Architects on September 29.

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HK gateway to Mainland market

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

Germany is Hong Kong’s largest trading partner among the 28 European Union Member States. Last year, the bilateral trade between Hong Kong and Germany reached US$16 billion. Germany is one of Hong Kong’s major sources of inward direct investment, valued at about US$4.7 billion in 2014. These are not the best figures we have ever had, but are certainly impressive given the fierce global economic challenges today. I believe we can boost our business ties and build new ways of working together, which is why we are staging “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” in Germany.

 

Hong Kong is an attractive gateway to China for German companies. Not only because of Hong Kong’s deepening integration with our motherland’s economic development, but also given Hong Kong’s unique advantages as a highly autonomous Special Administrative Region, thriving under “One Country, Two Systems”. Our strong tradition in the rule of law, low level of corruption, and a free and open economy are the core advantages and values of Hong Kong – much valued by overseas and Mainland businesses.

 

In fact, China and Germany have established close bilateral relationship for many years. Next year will mark the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Germany. In respect of trade, China has been Germany’s largest trading partner in Asia since 2002. In 2014, bilateral trade volume between China and Germany amounted to US$177 billion, and among which US$11.4 billion or about 7.3 percent of total trade between Germany and the Mainland was routed through Hong Kong. In addition, German foreign direct investment (FDI) in China was worth more than US$45 billion while Chinese FDI in German was worth nearly US$1.6 billion. There are some 900 Chinese companies operating in Germany, and more than 5,000 German companies are active in China. If compare the two sets of figures that I have just mentioned, it appears that there is still very strong potential for more Chinese investment to look for business opportunities in Germany.

 

Hong Kong is well-placed to enable German businesses and investors to tap the rewards of the Mainland China and the Asian region. We consistently rank high in the world’s leading surveys of best business cities, economic freedom, competitiveness, opportunity and ease of doing business. The US-based Heritage Foundation has ranked Hong Kong the world’s freest economy for 22 consecutive years. We are also rated as the most competitive economy by the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland.

 

Hong Kong is geared to make it easy for business. We have a simple and low tax regime and a level playing field for all companies whether they are based in Germany or anywhere else. We were again voted “Best Business City in the World” in the 2015 annual readers’ poll by Business Traveller Asia Pacific magazine. Our excellent business environment is also recognised by the World Bank, which ranks us the 5th easiest place to do business in the world according to their Doing Business 2016 Report. Hong Kong is also renowned for being one of the safest cities in the world to live and to work, with only 910 crimes per 100,000 population – a new low since 1972.

 

Then there is our privileged and special relationship with China, the world’s second largest economy.

 

First, let me mention the special free trade pact between Hong Kong and Mainland China. Called the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA for short, it enables foreign companies based in Hong Kong to gain easy access to the Mainland market through various tariff-free privileges. That means German investors can set up a company in Hong Kong, partner with, invest in or even acquire service suppliers in Hong Kong to make use of CEPA opportunities to reap the rewards of opportunities in China.

 

We have also built strong international trade and investment network and are expanding it through signing more bilateral agreements with our trading partners. Right now, we are negotiating a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which is expected to be concluded within this year. We have also signed 35 agreements on avoidance of double taxation with 11 more, including one with Germany in the process of negotiation. As for investment promotion and protection agreements (IPPA), 18 have been signed. The IPPA with Germany was signed in 1996. To facilitate the promotion of trade and investment opportunities with our trading partners, we have established 11 Economic and Trade Offices (ETO) overseas including the one in Berlin which was established in 2011. We are setting up the 12th ETO in Jakarta, Indonesia and another one, the 13th, in Seoul, South Korea. Additional liaison units will also be established in strategic locations in China.

 

There are 340 German companies including over 200 regional headquarters and regional offices based in Hong Kong. They know well about our business-friendly environment in the form of low and simple taxes, a level playing field, the rule of law, free flow of capital, information and talent, world-class infrastructure, and unrivalled connectivity to China’s, regional and global markets.

 

Hong Kong is China’s key financial centre and one of the world’s leading financial capitals. According to the World Investment Report 2015 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, we are the world’s second largest recipient of FDI and second largest source of FDI. We also have the eighth largest stock market in the world in market capitalisation. Last year, we ranked first globally in equity funds raised through initial public offerings.

 

And Hong Kong continues to play a key role in China’s continuing financial and economic liberalisation. We are the world’s largest offshore Renminbi (RMB) hub, processing over 70 percent of RMB offshore payments. “Dim sum” bonds worth over RMB670 billion have been issued and trade settlement totalling RMB6.8 trillion has been processed through banks so far. The RMB will be included in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights basket of currencies in less than a week’s time, further expanding its global acceptance and use. Frankfurt has become one of the offshore RMB clearing locations since November 2014 to manage accounts denominated in Chinese currency for German and European banks and business enterprises. There is much room for Hong Kong and Frankfurt to foster collaboration in the pursuit of RMB internationalisation.

 

Our location also gives us a natural advantage. Situated in the heart of Asia and at the southern gateway to Mainland China, Hong Kong is the super-connector between the Mainland and the rest of the world, thanks to our world-class services and strong logistical advantages.

 

Our container port, which is among the busiest in the world, is serviced by more than 800 maritime-related companies.

 

An important new rail connection with China is also moving full-steam ahead. We expect the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link to be up and running in a couple of years’ time. It will enhance Hong Kong’s connections with key Pearl River Delta cities and also connect directly with China’s national high-speed rail network.

 

The Hong Kong International Airport has been the busiest cargo airport in the world for the past six years and is the world’s eighth busiest passenger airport. Half the world’s population is no more than five hours’ flying time from Hong Kong, while all of Asia’s major markets are less than four hours’ flight away. Our airport is serviced by more than 100 airlines including the Lufthansa Airlines, operating over 1 100 flights a day, linking Hong Kong to about 190 destinations worldwide including Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf and some 50 cities in China. To ensure that Hong Kong remains a regional aviation hub, the Airport Authority is building the third runway.

 

Hong Kong is also emerging as an innovation and technology hub. Last year, we set up our Innovation & Technology Bureau to drive our ambitious technology agenda. Earlier this year, we launched a variety of innovation and technology policies and initiatives, including a US$560 million expansion of the Hong Kong Science Park, home to some 600 technology start-ups and companies. The focus of Science Park is mainly on robotics, smart cities, the Internet of Things and healthy aging which are areas of special interest for Hong Kong.

 

At last count, Hong Kong was home to more than 1 600 start-ups, representing an increase of some 50 percent over the past two years. And we are working to build on those numbers. Among other things, we are establishing a US$260 million Innovation and Technology Venture Fund, partnering with private venture-capital funds to help finance promising local technology start-ups.

 

We are also putting more resources into our world-class universities and R&D institutions, to help boost their mid-stream applied research in key areas of technology. We are liaising with top research and development institutions from all over the world, promoting Hong Kong as their gateway to Asia and, in particular, Mainland China. The response has been encouraging. A few months ago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology opened its MIT Innovation Node in Hong Kong. The centre was set up to connect MIT’s celebrated technology researchers, academics and students with opportunities available only in Hong Kong and, through Hong Kong, in the neighbouring Pearl River Delta. Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, one of the world’s leading medical universities, will soon open its first overseas research centre – at the Hong Kong Science Park: the Ming Wai Lau Center for Reparative Medicine will target such areas as genome editing, biomedical engineering and 3D tissue imaging.

 

We are also moving ahead with financial technology (Fintech), which makes sense, given our international financial services prowess. A dedicated team, under Invest Hong Kong, will help start-ups, investors and research and development institutions to set up in our city. Alongside our local innovators, about 50 of the top 100 Fintech companies in the world operate out of Hong Kong.

 

But Hong Kong works hard and plays hard. And we have much to offer in the form of entertainment, culture, sports and leisure – and culinary delights.

 

Hong Kong Disneyland debuts its Iron Man theme area later this year. A new hotel, featuring an exploration theme, is slated to open there next year. Ocean Park, our other world-class theme park, opens its first hotel in the coming year, along with a giant water park in 2018.

 

Meanwhile, we are taking big strides to establish Hong Kong as a major cultural hub. The West Kowloon Cultural District, extending across 40 hectares of parkland overlooking our famous cityscape, is now rapidly taking shape. We opened the first permanent facility, the M+ Pavilion, in July this year, setting a milestone in this long-term strategic investment. The opening of a host of other performance venues and a contemporary arts museum called M+ will follow. Together with major events like Art Basel, growing number of art galleries and successful art auctions, Hong Kong’s status as a premier cultural hub is reinforced.

 

And Hong Kong, of course, has a well-deserved reputation as a culinary paradise. The 2016 edition of the Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macao features more than 60 restaurants, including many inexpensive restaurants and street stalls offering local delights, making Hong Kong’s Michelin restaurants some of the most affordable in the world.

 

We leverage these strengths to enhance continuous economic growth and our role in connecting China and Asia with the rest of the world, making us a perfect gateway for overseas corporations to access the thriving Asian and Mainland China markets. Furthermore, we are also gearing up to capitalise on our country’s Belt & Road initiative. Inspired by two legendary economic corridors of ancient times, namely the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, this visionary initiative announced by President Xi Jinping aims to enhance policy co-ordination, connectivity, trade, financial integration, and people-to-people links amongst over 60 nations across Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

 

Thanks to our unparalleled advantages for business and the unique role as the gateway to China and the rest of the world, Hong Kong is powerfully positioned to make a major contribution to this important initiative. Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, made that clear at the inaugural Belt & Road Summit held in Hong Kong in May 2016.

 

We have asset-management professionals, along with the capital markets and financial products to serve as the financial engine for the Belt & Road projects. We also have abundant expertise to lead the way, including project negotiation and management, accounting, architecture, engineering and many other specialised areas, including international law and professional arbitration services.

 

Infrastructure development is at the heart of the Belt & Road initiative. Germany, as a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which was set up to help finance the Belt & Road projects in Asia and beyond, as well as a global leader in infrastructure has much to offer – and gain from – this brilliant, far-reaching initiative. So, Hong Kong’s role as the “super-connector” between China and the rest of the world, including Germany, is bound to strengthen.

 

In conclusion, let me extend an invitation to you to the 15th Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business, which will take place in Hong Kong for the first time this November. The Conference, which will bring together high-profile Asian and German business leaders and government officials, is the largest event of its kind in the region. To underline the importance we attach to this Conference, the HKSAR Government will host a Government Evening Reception for delegates in the beautiful premises of a restored heritage site. So I look forward to seeing you all there.

 

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” dinner in Frankfurt, Germany.

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HK channels capital flow

Financial Secretary John Tsang

As an international financial centre with a well-developed capital market, Hong Kong has a unique edge in channelling capital between Asia and the rest of the world. Last year, Hong Kong ranked first globally in equity funds raised through IPOs. And I think we shall be able to repeat that this year. According to the UN World Investment Report 2016, Hong Kong continues to rank second, after the US, in global FDI inflows. Our foreign direct investment inflows in 2015 amounted to US$175 billion. That is a year-on-year increase of 53.55%.

 

Of course, Hong Kong is the world’s largest offshore renminbi business centre: the renminbi liquidity pool in Hong Kong, amounting to some 800 billion yuan, is the largest globally. The mature, diverse range of renminbi products offered by our banking sector covers personal banking, asset management, cross-border trade settlement as well as bond issuance.

 

At the same time, Hong Kong continues to be the number one choice for Mainland companies looking to expand overseas, as well as the ideal base for overseas companies which are keen to gain a foothold in the Mainland.

 

Our wealth and asset management business is looking quite good, too. At the end of last year, our combined fund management business amounted to some $17 trillion.

 

Hong Kong has long been the location of choice for corporate treasury operations, thanks to the strength of our financial, banking and professional services, as well as our deep capital market.

 

To make our financial market even more attractive, we passed legislation in May this year giving a half-rate profits tax concession for qualified corporate treasury centres in Hong Kong. It allows profits tax interest deductions for intra-group financing business of companies.

 

While the global economy is likely to remain sluggish amid all sorts of uncertainties, it is clear that there is an ongoing demand for financing in Asia. For us here in Hong Kong, that spells opportunity.

 

Our many compelling advantages, in the form of our mature financial infrastructure, our favourable business environment, the rule of law, and our simple and low tax regime, will enable Hong Kong to continue to serve our businesses.

 

Financial Secretary John Tsang gave these remarks at the Grand Opening of Citi Tower on September 26.

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Poverty alleviation, elderly care prioritised

Acting Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

The Social Enterprise World Forum, launched back in 2008 by a group of national agencies in different countries in support of social enterprises, aims at advancing social enterprise development around the world. Hong Kong is honoured to host this mega event, with social enterprise leaders, entrepreneurs, professionals and elites from all over the world gathered in this vibrant international city to share their views and experiences. My warmest congratulations go to the Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises on staging this prestigious forum in Hong Kong for the first time. My gratitude also goes to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and also all the generous sponsors. Without their donation, this event could not have been a success.

 

This event forms part of the Hong Kong International Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Week 2016, which began on Thursday (September 22). I had the opportunity of speaking at the opening and having a dialogue with Professor Michael Porter from the Harvard University on his very famous concept of creating shared values. It comprises three major forums, each with unique perspectives on how to make the world a better place. Never before have we seen so many world renowned and influential thought leaders, senior officials, experts, academics, practitioners and philanthropists assembled in Hong Kong to foster learning, sharing, collaboration and innovation. This has indeed been an enterprising week of intellectual feasting and cross-fertilisation.

 

The rapid rise in the number of social enterprises worldwide, including in Hong Kong, has led to a new business sector which increasingly makes an impact in its pursuit of social objectives. From job creation and the production of green products to the provision of affordable accommodation, support for learning and many other achievements, social enterprises have been providing sustainable solutions for social issues and providing the impetus for social innovation. The social enterprise sector also contributes towards instilling a sense of mutual care and support in the community for a more inclusive, fair and equal society for people of different origins and social groups.

 

I must say it is an opportune moment this world forum to be held in Hong Kong as we are undergoing a quiet social revolution in moving towards a more caring, compassionate and cohesive community here. The government is taking the lead. Poverty alleviation, better elderly care, and enhanced support for the needy and disadvantaged rank very high on the Government’s policy agenda. For example, welfare spending has risen by a significant 55 per cent from HK$42.8 billion in 2012-13 to the current financial figure of HK$66.2 billion. It is now the second largest item of our recurrent expenditure just after education. A host of new measures aimed at improving care and social security protection for our senior citizens as well as to tackle working poverty here have also been put in place. In gearing ourselves up for a fast-aging community, currently one out of seven Hong Kong people aged 65 or above. In twenty years time, it will become one in three. And as to narrow the wealth gap, we will not be shying away from new ideas and fresh thinking in mapping out our strategy and our way forward. In the process, we will mobilise the whole community and reinforce cross-sectoral collaboration among the Government and many stakeholders in society. We stand ready to embrace the challenges head on.

 

With a population of 7.3 million, Hong Kong currently has 570 social enterprises – more than double the figure in 2008. Apart from the notable increase in numbers, our social enterprises have also become more diversified in terms of the business nature, financing arrangements, mode of operation and social objectives. While most of our social enterprises in the past were established by charitable bodies, an increasing number of business executives and professionals are venturing into the social enterprise sector. About 20 per cent of our social enterprises now are run by non-charitable organisations formed by the business sector and professionals as well.

 

Hong Kong social enterprise sector is essentially community driven with the Government playing a key supporting role. Under a multi-pronged approach, we facilitate the development of the sector through a range of measures including funding support, which is very important, capacity building, enhancement of public awareness and support, and promotion of cross-sectoral collaboration.

 

The staging of this important world forum in Hong Kong is a recognition of the achievements of our social enterprises and marks an important milestone in its development. Under the theme “New Frontiers, New Markets”, the forum will review the business models and practices in the sector with reference to relevant success stories, and will explore the use of social enterprises as a new market and a new form of business for the achievement of social objectives with deliverable social values.

 

Acting Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the opening ceremony of the Social Enterprise World Forum.

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Sports events to draw tourists

Financial Secretary John Tsang

Cycling is clearly becoming more and more popular in Hong Kong. It is now common to see kitted-up cyclists and families enjoying the expanding network of cycling tracks around the city.

 

This is the second year the Hong Kong Tourism Board organises this mega event. The Government has provided funding to expand the scale of this year’s event, with a nice mix of activities designed for both amateurs and professionals.

 

One of our home-grown athletes, Cheung King-lok, who also took part in the Rio Olympics last month, will be joining the competition today.

 

The 50-kilometre Challenge Ride, the big race, has been extended to span three bridges and three tunnels. The routes should give cyclists the chance to enjoy our stunning harbour view and skyline. Certainly, an added bonus.

 

This Cyclothon marks the beginning of the Hong Kong Sports Month. We are delighted to host a number of exciting sports events in October – the Tennis Open, Boxing, Triathlon, Harbour Race as well as the Formula E.

 

Financial Secretary John Tsang gave these remarks at the prize presentation ceremony of the Hong Kong Cyclothon’s morning races.

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Supportive society for all, by all

Financial Secretary John Tsang

One of the most important roles of government, I believe, is to foster an enabling environment with a set of fair and predictable rules, that accords everyone, rich and poor, the same opportunity to excel, that optimises everyone’s potential, and that gives members of the younger generation a fair chance to succeed. An environment in which the new generation can learn and can thrive for themselves, an environment where they can fulfil their aspiration, an environment where they can nurture changes to better our society, our world.

 

For fostering and maintaining that enabling environment, the Government must actively, as well as consistently, invest in social and economic goods for the community, including education, transport, the environment, healthcare, sanitation, housing and whatnot. These, in the words of the 18th century English writer Samuel Johnson, are what they call the “decent provision for the poor”.

 

In fact, education, healthcare services, elderly care and support for the disadvantaged are indeed the top priorities for the Hong Kong Government. Over the past decade, provision for social welfare here has more than doubled in real terms. Education spending has risen over a pretty high base by two-thirds. Healthcare by 90%. In my latest government budget, I allocated $72 billion for social welfare, $77 billion for healthcare, $84 billion for education and $85 billion for infrastructure. And that accounts for over 65% of the total public expenditure for the current financial year.

 

With Government’s intervention and implementation of new schemes like the Old Age Living Allowance, as well as the Low-income Working Family Allowance that were launched recently, we have successfully helped lift thousands of grass-roots households out of poverty, bolstered economic security of these families, as well as helped these families to secure real opportunities for their children.

 

We have also been investing heavily in public housing. Many people in the world do not realise that nearly half of Hong Kong’s 7.2 million population are actually living in subsidised housing built by Government.

 

As a caring society, Government has been taking an innovative approach in implementing a number of social initiatives, and I am happy to say that many of these measures are beginning to bear fruit.

 

For many years, Hong Kong has developed social programmes not by direct provision through public agencies, but by engaging not-for-profit organisations or private companies in delivering these services. Traditionally, funding was provided through subventions or contract arrangements, but since the 1990s, we have given NGOs greater room to determine how their subventions are used, and we have set up funding programmes to encourage the development of social enterprises that are able to earn and retain income to help them scale up and sustain their activities.

 

We have also set up in 2013 the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund to support social enterprises, to enable them to sustain activities through their own income-generating schemes.

 

The Fund seeks to promote a “Creating Shared Value” initiative and is encouraging established enterprises to rethink the way that they operate and seek new opportunities for business growth by addressing social needs. I also see great synergy for cross-fertilisation between social entrepreneurs and the growing body of technology-savvy talent in coming up with innovative ways to address our social issues.

 

Like many other places, Hong Kong is facing the daunting challenges of a fast ageing population. We expect the proportion of our elderly, that is, people aged 65 or over, to increase from 15%, that is about one million people in 2014, to 36%, or 2.6 million people, in 50 years’ time.

 

We are proactively employing a number of new ideas and initiatives in dealing with the situation, such as promoting the extension of retirement age, enhancing childcare services, facilitating employment of the underprivileged, attracting overseas talents through special immigration schemes, as well as identifying proper technological applications that can lend the necessary assistance to elderly citizens.

 

We hope, through these initiatives, to optimise the potential of our labour force, nurture local manpower, attract foreign talent to Hong Kong and foster a supportive environment for raising families, as well as for active ageing.

 

We hope, as well, to make the new generation of elders even more healthy, more energetic and fully capable of continuing to contribute to our society.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, while the government has an indispensable part to play in this ongoing exercise, our efforts and public expenditure alone are not enough to tackle all the problems. Private sector support is crucial. Support in the form of money. Support in the form of expertise. Support in the form of philanthropy.

 

It is of paramount importance that the private enterprises, NGOs, charitable organisations and governments all join forces in building that enabling environment.

 

In that regard, Hong Kong is blessed. For many years, not-for-profit organisations and corporate social responsibility programmes have delivered a vast range of social welfare initiatives in Hong Kong. The Government also provides support in the form of subventions and contract arrangements. And we have given NGOs greater flexibility to determine how they can deploy these subventions.

 

I am happy to note that government agencies, NGOs, charitable foundations and businesses are working together to find better ways to address problems and open up new opportunities. Making efforts to understand community needs better and to engage citizens in creating new ways to meet these needs.

 

Still, much more needs to be done. That is where philanthropy that is attuned to society’s needs and committed to uplifting society is urgently needed. We need also philanthropy that supports innovation through the trial and error inherent in the process; we need creative philanthropy that looks for new solutions to problems; we need philanthropy that is inclusive and welcomes ideas and efforts from everywhere. Philanthropy that is dedicated to capacity building.

 

Cities are organic. They change. They grow. Some prosper, some decay. We can build better cities, more healthy and prosperous cities, not only with advanced and well-designed hardware, but also with the powerful software of social consciousness, the enlightened philosophy that animates philanthropy.

 

Financial Secretary John Tsang gave these remarks at the Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum opening ceremony on September 22.

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Shared value enriches business and society

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

It gives me great pleasure to join you all at the opening of the first ever Hong Kong International Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Week (IPSE Week). Let me extend a very warm welcome to all distinguished speakers and guests coming from different parts of the world.

 

The IPSE Week 2016 aims to promote the collaboration between different sectors to advance social objectives and to showcase the ongoing efforts and achievements of Hong Kong in the development of philanthropy and social enterprises. We are glad to have government officials, non-governmental organisations’ leaders, academics, social entrepreneurs, business leaders, philanthropists and professionals from relevant sectors around the globe joining us to exchange experience, with a view to generating ideas for social innovation and advancement. Indeed, I would say this is a congregation of great minds from different places and different backgrounds celebrating a common pursuit of social good.

 

In line with Hong Kong’s hyper-efficiency, this IPSE Week comprises three distinctive forums and summit on philanthropy and social enterprise development.

 

First, we have the Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum, which is the first of its kind in Hong Kong. We will explore together the best practices of philanthropy and the effective use of philanthropic capital to create social impact in addressing metropolitan social issues.

 

Hong Kong is a small yet fascinating international city. While most renowned for its economic and business success, we also have our unmet social needs. To meet the challenges, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government strives to strengthen social safety nets for the disadvantaged on one hand, and foster its long-standing relationship with charitable bodies to deliver public services and social projects on the other. We work with various charities, on all fronts and at all levels, in a wide range of programmes for good causes – from health care, education and support services for the disadvantaged, to promotion of arts, culture, sports, youth development and community building in our city, to even financial and disaster relief overseas.

 

Hong Kong is a city with a long-established culture of giving. The first Chinese hospital in Hong Kong was not initiated by the Government but by a group of earnest local Chinese leaders through raising funds in the community. Following the enactment of the Tung Wah Hospital Ordinance and with the funding support and land grant from the Government, the Tung Wah Hospital was completed in 1872 and started to provide free Chinese medical services to the sick and the poor.

 

In the late 19th century, abduction and trafficking of women and children were serious in Hong Kong. In 1878, a group of local Chinese presented a petition to the Government to set up an organisation to rescue the kidnapped victims. The Po Leung Kuk, formally known as the Society for the Protection of Women and Children, was established in 1878 to prevent and resolve kidnappings and to protect destitute women and children.

 

What is more is that the first university in Hong Kong was founded by the generosity of a philanthropist at the beginning of the 20th century. My alma mater, the University of Hong Kong, was established in 1911 when the Indian businessman Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody learned of Governor Sir Frederick Lugard’s plan to establish a university in Hong Kong, and decided to donate HK$150,000 towards the construction and HK$30,000 for other costs for the development of the first higher education institution in the city.

 

With the population size expanding dramatically during the early 1960s, poverty, diseases, delinquency, family violence and other serious social issues plagued the Hong Kong community. In 1965, a group of enthusiastic and visionary volunteers started to propose the establishment of a “collective channel” for fund-raising to address social issues so that social welfare agencies could concentrate on developing quality services for local beneficiaries. In 1968, the Community Chest of Hong Kong, the first of its kind in Asia, was officially founded under the Community Chest Ordinance to help raise funds on behalf of member social welfare agencies.

 

Any recount of Hong Kong’s history of giving would not be complete without mentioning the tremendous impact of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. For over 130 years, the Club has donated large sums of money to educational, medical, recreation and sports facilities in Hong Kong. Last year, the Club made a record-breaking $3.8 billion donation to various good causes.

 

But if you will forgive me for being pedantic, the above laudable initiatives are charitable acts which involve donations in kind or in cash to relieve a particular social problem or to meet a shortfall. Philanthropy, on the other hand, aims to address the root cause of the problem, with a focus on the quality of life, driven by the love and concern for humanity. As the title of this Forum suggests, philanthropy can create a better city. Particularly at a time when our society tends to become more polarised and suffer from deepening divides of wealth and opportunity, greater emphasis on philanthropy could, in my view, bring about social inclusion and solidarity. This gathering of practitioners and experts in philanthropy cannot therefore be more timely.

 

Indeed, there are already very positive signs of this evolution from charity to philanthropy in Hong Kong. In recent years, following the increasing number of charitable organisations, the evolvement of new forms of giving and help, as well as the promotion of corporate social responsibility, we are seeing the emergence of social enterprises as a new sector which aspires to achieve social objectives through private businesses. The Hong Kong Jockey Club has made pioneering moves in venturing into initiatives to promote elderly care through its CADENZA project and to support the healthy development of young people through its PATHS to Adulthood. And this time last year, the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund organised Hong Kong’s first ever Shared Value: Creating Competitive Advantage Forum with an aim to inspire participants to incorporate Corporate Shared Value into their corporate strategy. All these efforts are philanthropic and will make Hong Kong a better city.

 

This takes me to another highlight of the IPSE Week – the Social Enterprise Summit, which is an annual flagship event in Hong Kong to promote cross-sectoral collaboration among social enterprises. This year, we hope to leverage on the experience of other Asian cities to find new ways for social innovation, cross-sectoral collaboration and social impact assessment.

 

I have been very closely associated with Hong Kong’s social enterprise movement. Fifteen years ago, in my capacity as the Director of Social Welfare, I set up the first government social enterprise programme to provide seed money to NGOs running small businesses to provide employment for people with disabilities. This was followed by another social enterprise programme I launched as the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs to alleviate poverty through social enterprises at district level. As the Secretary for Development responsible for, amongst other things, Hong Kong’s heritage conservation, I invited social enterprises to help revitalise our historic buildings into a heritage hotel, youth hostel, a design hub, etc.

 

We now have a remarkable total of more than 570 social enterprises, as against a population of around 7.3 million. According to research by the Fullness Social Enterprises Society, Hong Kong has the largest number of social enterprises per 1 million of population as compared with Taiwan, Singapore, Korea and Vietnam.

 

The social enterprise sector in Hong Kong is community-driven with the Government playing a supporting role. The Government promotes the development of the social enterprise sector under a multi-pronged approach. We provide funding for social enterprises and social innovation projects, as well as aids in training for social enterprises to build up capacity and enhance competitiveness. We also encourage public support for social enterprises through publicity and promote cross-sectoral collaboration. We are glad to see that increasingly social enterprises in Hong Kong are not only engaging in more different lines of businesses and operating models, but also achieving more diverse social objectives and gaining wider recognition in the community.

 

As a final instalment to the IPSE Week, we have the Social Enterprise World Forum. This world forum was first launched in 2008 and has since grown in impact through its annual run in various cities of the world. Hong Kong is proud to serve as the newest host to this influential international event. This year’s forum will review the business models and best practices in the social enterprise sector based on success stories and explore the use of social enterprises as a new market and a new form of business to achieve social objectives.

 

Good business practices can maximise both business and social values, especially in the tripartite collaboration between businesses, the community and the government to address complex social needs. Within the Hong Kong SAR Government, we have the Innovation and Technology Commission, the recently established Innovation and Technology Bureau, and the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund under the Commission on Poverty to work for this cross-sectoral interest. Through these institutions, we have been building the ecosystem of support not only for the creation of new businesses, but also for existing businesses to create new business value in ways that will increase social value.

 

We want to create a shared value that can enrich both business and society. It is not easy to overcome the inertia of entrenched practices and assumptions to find shared value. I am pleased to note that, however, businesses in Hong Kong are positive to the call to rethink, to experiment and to find ways to work better for our city and for our society.

 

As a result of globalisation, many social issues and challenges have in fact become universal – the productivity challenge brought by ageing population, the job market challenge brought by technological advances, the environmental challenge brought by urbanisation and modernisation, the housing challenge brought by affordability issues. Such challenges also present new business opportunities, taking the shared economy as an example. Increasingly we also aspire to take things at the higher level – from environmental protection to sustainable development, from job creation to provision of equal opportunities, from provision of basic learning to the support for self-development, from poverty alleviation to reduction of the wealth gap.

 

While giving help to those in need, we also want to create social capital to address social issues and challenges. We also want to transform social challenges into new business and development opportunities. We do not just look for solutions, but strategies for social advancement. Apart from stepping up efforts for social good, philanthropists and social entrepreneurs alike are increasingly keen to find ways to assess the outcomes of their inputs and to see how such outcomes are translated into social values and impacts for the betterment of society. In a nutshell, we need to innovate and open new frontiers. To do so, we have to look beyond borders and across different sectors. And that’s why we are here with the IPSE Week.

 

The inception of the IPSE Week marks an important milestone in the social enterprise movement of this city. It provides a great platform for us to exchange ideas, share experience and explore together possible strategies and solutions in response to global social challenges. I must express my heartfelt appreciation for the tremendous efforts made by the three organisers – the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Hong Kong Social Entrepreneurship Forum, and the Hong Kong General Chamber of Social Enterprises. My gratitude also goes to my colleagues in the Home Affairs Bureau. As the government institution overseeing the growth of the social enterprise sector in Hong Kong, the bureau has made considerable effort to steer and co-ordinate the organisation of this grand event.

 

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam spoke at the Joint Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong International Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Week 2016 on September 21.

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Kazakh investors to benefit from HK

Financial Secretary John Tsang

Hong Kong’s economic ties with Kazakhstan are encouraging, with bilateral trade rising by some 19% a year, on average, between 2011 and 2015. That’s why the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, our trade promotion agency, has led four business missions to Kazakhstan in the past three years. It is also why I am here bringing with me a high-profile mission from the business sector of Hong Kong.

 

Joining with me are some 30 senior Hong Kong businesspeople. They come from a variety of sectors, including finance, logistics, infrastructure and real estate, telecommunications and technology, and legal services.

 

We are all keen to learn more about Almaty, the financial, logistics and commercial centre at the heart of the Eurasian continent. Keen, as well, to expand business and expand trade relations with Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest economy.

 

In that, we share a common interest; indeed, a promising future. That’s thanks to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative spearheaded by President Xi of China.

 

Just like the ancient Silk Roads which contributed significantly to the development of many of the world’s great civilisations, the Belt & Road initiative will become the driving force of the global economy in the 21st century. The Belt & Road corridors encompass some 65 countries across three continents, accounting for one-third of global GDP and one-third of the world’s merchandise trade. It has been designed to promote infrastructural connectivity and, in doing so, boost trade and investment, deepen policy coordination and create stronger people-to-people bonds among participating countries.

 

In short, the Belt & Road initiative is destined to become the driving force of the global economy in this 21st century. It will generate demand and expand international trade and investment flow, as well as two-way traffic in and out of China.

 

Kazakhstan is a key player in Belt & Road initiative, given the country’s place as the critical gateway between the East and the West. That’s not surprising, given that Kazakhstan, has served for centuries as the original Silk Road’s East-West bridge.

 

Today, with its vast land area and strategic location, Kazakhstan has what it takes to be the most prominent business and logistics hub for the Belt & Road region.

 

Hong Kong, too, sees unprecedented promises in the Belt & Road initiative. Working together, I believe there is much our two economies can accomplish. In the next few minutes, allow me to share with you some of my thoughts on that very subject.

 

Hong Kong’s unique advantage is our “one country, two systems” arrangement with the Mainland. Under this framework, we maintain our own social and economic systems, while being an inseparable part of China.

 

Hong Kong is one of the best places in the world to do business. We are a global city, and we fly the flag of free trade. For the past 22 years, the Washington-based Heritage Foundation has named Hong Kong as the world’s freest economy. That means an open and level playing field for all businesses, wherever they come from, whatever they do. Legally, of course.

 

And according to the IMD Competitiveness Yearbook 2016, Hong Kong was ranked the most competitive economy in the world. Apart from our favourable business environment, the many advantages of Hong Kong also include the rule of law, and our intellectual property rights protection reassures international business. English is one of our official and commonly used languages, our society is free and open, and our lifestyle a sophisticated melding of East and West.

 

Hong Kong maintains our own currency, which is fully convertible. Capital from the Mainland, as well as from all over the world, flows freely in and out of Hong Kong.

 

Almaty is the key financial centre of Kazakhstan, the most powerful economic engine in Central Asia. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is China’s international financial centre. We are also among the world’s leading financial capitals.

 

We have the experience, the expertise and the connections to serve as the fundraising and financial management hub for the Belt & Road economies. Our financing options range from public offerings, loan syndication, to private equity as well as Islamic finance.

 

Our stock market is the eighth-largest in the world in terms of market capitalisation, and Hong Kong ranks first, globally, in equity funds raised through initial public offerings.

 

Equally important, Hong Kong is China’s international financial capital. We are the first-mover in the Mainland’s continuing economic reforms.

 

Mutual access between the Mainland and Hong Kong has soared since the opening of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect in late 2014, and the introduction of the Mainland-Hong Kong Mutual Recognition of Funds Arrangement last year.

 

And with the commencement of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect by the end of this year, Hong Kong’s role in the two-way opening-up of the Mainland’s capital markets to the rest of the world will continue to grow.

 

Thanks to our deepening economic integration with the Mainland, Hong Kong is the world’s largest offshore Renminbi business centre. We provide international investors with a wide variety of Renminbi products, including those for cross-border trade settlement and Renminbi financing.

 

As trade and other economic activities along the Belt & Road corridors expand, so, too, will the demand for Renminbi services. Hong Kong can respond to that demand. After all, we have been handling the lion’s share of Renminbi trade settlement since its beginnings in 2009.

 

Our Renminbi debt market has also been steadily developing. And Hong Kong has the largest dim sum bond market in the world, with outstanding dim sum bonds amounting to more than RMB 300 billion.

 

Our dim sum bond market is supported by a liquidity pool of some RMB800 billion – again, the world’s largest pool of RMB liquidity.

 

Given the substantial Muslim population living along the Belt & Road corridors, we expect Islamic financial services to be equally promising. Over the past two years, the Hong Kong Government has successfully issued two global sukuk.

 

The two issuances drew strong interest from the global financial industry, showcasing our financial expertise and economic fundamentals. Equally important, they underlined the confidence international investors have in Hong Kong. We are now working on the third sukuk issuance and we hope to issue that shortly.

 

Asset and risk management services will also be in demand once the Belt & Road initiative finds traction. And I am pleased to note that Hong Kong’s wealth and asset management business has maintained its strength, despite a tumultuous year for global markets.

 

Our combined fund management business amounts to more than US$2 trillion in assets, with close to 70% of the funds sourced from overseas investors. That’s why I am confident when I say that Hong Kong can serve as a global centre for asset management, risk management and corporate treasury functions.

 

Hong Kong boasts a wide variety of insurance services and derivative products as well. They offer good reasons for Kazakh companies to manage their risks by setting up captive insurers in Hong Kong.

 

In July this year, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority set up the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (IFFO). To date, more than 40 organisations have joined IFFO as partners. They include multilateral financial agencies and development banks, public-sector investors, private-sector investors and asset managers, commercial and investment banks, infrastructure-project developers and operators, and professional service firms.

 

IFFO provides a unique channel to promote Kazakhstan’s infrastructure development. It can help your projects attract foreign investment and financing.

 

It can also assist your government agencies in offering their services and expertise related to Public-Private Partnership projects. And this can only support your Government’s drive to transform Kazakhstan into a knowledge-based, diversified economy.

 

Indeed, Kazakhstan’s industrial diversification and upgrading from a raw material supplier to a service-based economy offers Hong Kong companies opportunities across a range of sectors, from logistics to trading and professional services. In fact, 93% of Hong Kong’s GDP concern services.

 

Our multicultural, multi-talented pool of services professionals – in finance, accounting, law, architecture, engineering management and more – is another Hong Kong advantage.

 

They have the international experience to lead consultancies, construction projects and the operations and management of infrastructure projects along the Belt & Road corridors. And they look forward to working with Kazakhstan companies.

 

Then there are our legal professionals, who work with a world of business every day. They conduct due diligence, ensure contract enforcement and help resolve disputes. And they do so under a system supported by the twin foundations of the rule of law and an independent judiciary. I would say that makes Hong Kong an ideal centre for resolving potential commercial disputes arising from business collaboration.

 

Logistics is no less central to Hong Kong’s strengths as an international business centre. Hong Kong has one of the world’s busiest container ports and the busiest cargo airport in the world since 2010. Last year, our airport handled some 4.4 million tonnes of cargo, running about 1,100 flights a day.

 

Let me add that Hong Kong can reach nearly all major Asian economies within four hours’ flight time. Half the world’s population is just five hours away from Hong Kong. And we are expanding the airport into a three-runway system. Construction is now underway, with completion expected in 2024. The addition is expected to boost our airport’s handling capacity to some 100 million passengers and nine million tonnes of cargo a year by 2030.

 

I am encouraged by the increasing presence of Kazakh business in Hong Kong. Kazakhmys Plc, Kazakhstan’s largest copper miner and manufacturer of copper products, relocated its marketing and logistics department to Hong Kong from London a few years ago.

 

And KTZ Express, a subsidiary of Kazakhstan Railways, opened a Hong Kong office in 2014. It provides freight transport for companies trading with Central Asia. A number of Kazakh SMEs have also chosen Hong Kong as their regional base, taking advantage of our location and our financial and professional services to do business with the wider Asian market.

 

And I am confident that more Kazakh investors will make use of Hong Kong’s world-class infrastructure and services to venture into the vast markets of the Mainland and the Belt & Road economies. I am pleased to note that two days ago when we were in Astana, the Astana International Financial Centre and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further enhance trade and investment promotional efforts between the two places.

 

There is clear synergy and advantages for our two economies to further expand our business collaboration and to fast-track our growing ties, through the signing of agreements, such as a free trade agreement, an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, a Comprehensive Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement as well as more air services agreements. In each of these areas, we look forward to moving ahead with Kazakhstan as soon as possible.

 

Financial Secretary John Tsang gave these remarks at a business luncheon in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on September 16. 

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Vietnamese investment welcome

Acting Chief Executive Rimsky Yuen

Over 5,500 Vietnamese nationals are residing in Hong Kong. Last year, almost 60,000 visitors from Vietnam came to Hong Kong, an increase of some 7% over the previous year. Strong ties can also be seen in the context of trade and business. In 2015, Vietnam was our ninth largest trading partner in goods, with total value exceeding US$16 billion. Over the past five years, we have seen an impressive growth of, on average, 18% in bilateral merchandise trade, and 14% in services trade.

 

In the past decade or so, Vietnam’s economy has been growing among the fastest in the world. As Vietnam looks for further opportunities, Vietnamese companies can certainly turn to Hong Kong as a welcoming place for business and investment. Among others, you can count on our business-friendly environment; our low and simple tax regime; our rule of law; our effective intellectual property protection regime; and, of course, the free flow of information and capital and our free market economy.

 

In addition, Hong Kong provides the unique, and if I may suggest, the best, platform for businesses entering into the Mainland market. In 2015, a total of around US$8.9 billion worth of trade between Vietnam and the Mainland, representing some 9% of the total volume, was routed through Hong Kong. Under the “one country, two systems” policy, Hong Kong, as a Special Administrative Region of China, enjoys preferential access, and physical proximity, to the huge market north of the boundary. At the same time, we are an international and cosmopolitan city with a separate economic and legal system.

 

Hong Kong is, therefore, well placed to contribute to Vietnam’s economic development and reforms. In the first four months of this year, Hong Kong was Vietnam’s sixth largest source of investment, with direct investment amounting to almost US$200 million. We can certainly bring more business and investments into Vietnam, and help Vietnamese companies tap into the promises of the Mainland and the larger Asian region. I welcome and encourage more business partnerships between our two economies.

 

Looking ahead, there is every reason for Hong Kong and Vietnam to build closer ties and to take our co-operation to a new height.

 

The ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement under negotiation will, of course, boost business and investment co-operation between Hong Kong and Vietnam, and stimulate growth throughout the region. Over the past few years, the ASEAN bloc has become our second largest merchandise trade partner, ahead of the United States and the European Union, behind only the Mainland. Last year, among the ASEAN member states, Vietnam was our third and sixth largest partner in merchandise and services trade respectively. The eighth round of FTA negotiations ended just last month in Kuala Lumpur, and with good progress. I thank the Vietnamese Government for your support of the FTA, and look forward to seeing an expeditious and fruitful conclusion of the talks.

 

The Free Trade Agreement will also help unleash growth potential under China’s Belt & Road Initiative. This far-reaching initiative – spanning more than 60 countries on three continents – aims to strengthen co-operation on policy, economic and cultural fronts, and to foster mutually rewarding progress among countries along the Belt & Road.

 

As an international financial centre and the world’s largest offshore Renminbi centre, Hong Kong is well positioned to meet the growing demand for financial services along the Belt & Road, including infrastructure financing, offshore Renminbi services, asset and risk management, insurance and re-insurance services.

 

The dynamics of the various infrastructure projects spanning across markets with different cultures and legal systems certainly pose challenges and call for quality professional services. In this regard, Hong Kong professionals in accounting, engineering, consulting, project management, international legal and dispute resolution and many other sectors are highly regarded for their professional integrity, competence and global outlook. Investing in large projects, resolving commercial disputes, handling negotiations, establishing business models, dealing with property rights or investment protection – Hong Kong professionals are ideal service providers to Vietnamese enterprises.

 

I am very pleased that our respective chambers and companies are stepping up co-operation. In a short while, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, the Hong Kong-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce, together with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, will sign a memorandum of understanding to strengthen economic and trade ties between the two places. We will also witness the signing of contracts between our companies. This is certainly a good start and I look forward to seeing many more collaboration between Hong Kong and Vietnam – not only in business, but also in culture, education, research, technology and other fronts.

 

Acting Chief Executive Rimsky Yuen gave these remarks at the Hong Kong – Vietnam Business & Investment Forum on September 14.

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Smart city development planned

Secretary for Innovation & Technology Nicholas Yang

Good governance and compliance in information security are essential in protecting enterprises against cyber threats.

 

As Asia’s world city, Hong Kong is harnessing the full potential of information and communications technology (ICT) and our excellent infrastructure. Corporations are fast expanding their businesses with the adoption of e-commerce and cloud computing. Innovative e-services such as mobile payment and virtual shopping malls also make our lives more convenient. And we are also having a lot more fun with the latest technologies such as GPS and virtual and augmented reality.

 

While the advent of technology has facilitated new business models and opportunities for innovation, it has also brought about new risks, as our valued assets are more often in virtual form, and becoming more vulnerable to cyber threats. We therefore encourage the ICT industry to address these challenges by developing effective and innovative solutions and services. We are entering a new era of digital transformation and new forms of ICT products and services, including IoT (Internet of Things), big data, AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning, all becoming reality. Trust is vital to today’s digital businesses and a cornerstone to the success in promoting and launching new cyber services.

 

The Hong Kong SAR Government is committed to developing Hong Kong into a smart city – with the dual objective of driving Hong Kong’s economic development and also improving our citizens’ quality of living. We are now formulating a blueprint for smart city development in Hong Kong, covering policy objectives, strategy, development plans and infrastructure. New opportunities aside, smart city development will also bring forth new challenges and threats to cyber security.

 

To maintain a stable and reliable cyber environment, protecting critical information infrastructure is a vital task for all of us. Large-scale cyber attacks on critical infrastructure could be devastating and could affect everyone, including the Government, businesses and individuals. To this end, I would appeal to all ICT professionals to consider the essence of secure-by-design in developing new digital products and services. We should also get to know the various forms of new cyber threats and stand ready to anticipate and defend against them.

 

Hong Kong is an international and open city. We must stay vigilant against cyber attacks at all times and co-operate with our international counterparts. The Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre (HKCERT), managed by the Hong Kong Productivity Council, is the centre for co-ordination of computer security incident response for local enterprises and Internet users in Hong Kong. Apart from facilitating information dissemination and providing advices on preventive measures against security threats, the HKCERT collaborates with relevant bodies to co-ordinate response actions in Hong Kong. As a member of the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams and the Asia Pacific Computer Emergency Response Teams, the HKCERT also exchanges intelligence and collaborates with other CERTs on cross-border security incidents.

 

The Government will continue to join hands with the industry, professional bodies and the general public to enhance our capability and awareness in addressing cyber security threats. I look forward to all the speakers and participants of today’s Summit sharing their expertise and experience in fighting cyber attacks globally.

 

Secretary for Innovation & Technology Nicholas Yang gave these remarks at the Information Security Summit 2016 on September 12.

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