|25 November 2011 (Friday)|
Opening remarks delivered by the Secretary of Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference (with photo)
Following is the opening remarks delivered by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on November 25, 2011 (English only):
Vice-Minister Xu (Zuyuan), Fred (Lam), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning to you all and a warm welcome to all of you, especially visitors from outside Hong Kong. This year has not been an easy one for the logistics and maritime industries. The financial problems in the US and EU linger on and the global economic outlook remains very uncertain. Fortunately, Asia still holds good prospects for growth. Some see Asia as providing part of the solution. I notice President Obama was saying at the APEC meeting in Honolulu that the Asia-Pacific region was absolutely critical to America's economic growth and was a top priority to the US. According to the International Monetary Fund, Asia is projected to grow by 6.2 per cent in 2011 and 6.6 per cent in 2012, as compared to less than 2 per cent for the US and EU. On top of the growth in the region, there have been some emerging developments, trends that help reinforce Hong Kong's role as a leading logistics hub and maritime centre. These new trends also open wider opportunities to the logistics and maritime industries in Asia. At this strategic juncture, this Conference has brought together leading industry figures, academics and Mainland officials to deliberate on important issues that the industry is facing.
The rise of the consumer market in China
Of the key development trends, perhaps the most significant, is the rising importance of China as a consumer market. Back in the year 2000, Hong Kong was predominant handling China's exports to the rest of the world, which amounted to $760 billion. In recent years, we see a much faster rate of growth for goods heading to China via Hong Kong. In 2010, our re-exports to China have reached $861 billion, more than double in a span of 10 years. There are immense opportunities arising from China's consumer market for the logistics and maritime industries. As for re-exports from China, they have maintained a steady cumulative increase of 47 per cent in the same period and reached $1,115 billion in 2010. A clear trend has emerged. We need to cater for a two-way traffic flow to and from China, and Hong Kong now performs the dual role of facilitating goods going into and out of this growth engine of the world.
Not only are goods flowing two-way, they are going up-market. Responding to the market needs, another important trend is the provision of value-added services tailored to the requirements of individual clients. To stay competitive, the logistics and maritime industries do not and cannot just compete on the number of boxes handled. Our clients are looking for better service and more support in supply chain management to help them save costs and increase efficiency. With our professional workforce and world-class infrastructure, Hong Kong is well-positioned to provide logistics solutions tailored for the high-end market segment, such as pick-and-pack and inventory management services. Our long history in international trade and close integration with the global economy also give us strong advantages in understanding and serving the needs of clients from around the world. Hong Kong has just been ranked the world's number one in terms of the depth of global connectedness by the DHL Global Connectedness Index 2011. On top of that, our reliable security, quality assurance and strong intellectual property protection have made us an ideal place for the distribution of high-value products and brand-name goods, from aviation spare parts to electronics, jewellery, apparel and luxury luggage pieces.
Similar to the logistics industry, our maritime sector is moving up the value chain to focus on the premier end of the market. A strong cluster of services has developed in ship broking, ship management, marine insurance, ship finance, and maritime law and arbitration to support the growing shipping activities in the Asian region.
Specialisation is an equally important trend that goes hand in hand with value-added logistics. Delicate or temperature-sensitive goods like wine, frozen food and high-end fashion require special handling in packaging, transportation, storage and distribution in order to protect their quality and market value. Moreover, more businesses are looking for "just-in-time" supply chain solutions to reduce costs in inventory management and to enhance flexibility in responding to fast-changing market situations. With Hong Kong's long history as a trading hub, our logistics service providers have accumulated knowledge and expertise in handling all sorts of goods in a professional and specialised manner. That is why Hong Kong has grown in importance as a regional hub for wine, high-end jewellery, electronic products and other goods. The growth in wine trading has been the most spectacular. Since the exemption of wine duty in February 2008, wine storage facilities have sprouted in Hong Kong to meet the surging demand. These facilities are equipped with modern temperature and humidity control systems to protect such liquid assets. To name a few, DHL, Jebsen Logistics and Kerry Logistics have all established wine distribution centres in Hong Kong to capture the growing business potential. For electronic products, brands like Nokia and Philips have located their regional distribution centres in Hong Kong due to our reliability and efficiency. Besides, Hong Kong is increasingly becoming the regional service centre for high-end jewellery products. Take an example: Tiffany & Co's service centre in Hong Kong handles after-sale services, such as engraving, alterations, ring sizing, etc, for most of their Asian outlets. The list goes on.
Hong Kong's strategic role
Hong Kong's strengths and achievements in the fields of logistics, shipping and maritime service are duly recognised in the 12th Five-Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development of the People's Republic of China promulgated in March 2011. The plan has unequivocally supported Hong Kong's development into a high-value goods inventory management and regional distribution centre as well as an international maritime centre. This recognition is significant because it underscores Hong Kong's role in, and opportunities arising from, our nation's development.
Ladies and gentlemen, the evolving global trading patterns and increasing specialisation of supply chain management I have described have brought fundamental changes to the logistics and maritime landscape. Hong Kong is proactively embracing these changes by adapting our practices and upgrading our services. In all these, Hong Kong plays a strategic role in developing expertise and improving productivity and efficiency as well as facilitating technology adoption. The Government will continue to work closely with the industry in achieving the strategic positioning as enshrined in the 12th Five-Year Plan in the further development of our logistics and maritime industries.
Today's Conference provides a good platform to facilitate exchange of views and sharing of insight on a wide spectrum of issues affecting the logistics and maritime sectors. Through this Conference, together we can develop better ideas to withstand the challenges, grasp the opportunities and shape a more promising future for everyone.