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Speech by Acting CE at International Academy of Belt and Road Third International Forum

Following is the speech by the Acting Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the Third International Forum on the Belt and Road organised by the International Academy of Belt and Road today (June 12):

President Wang (President of International Academy of Belt and Road, Mr Wang Gui-guo), distinguished guests, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It gives me great pleasure to join you here at the "Third International Forum on the Belt and Road Initiative". My thanks to the International Academy of Belt and Road – the first research institute on the subject in Hong Kong – for this welcome opportunity to speak, and for bringing together local, overseas experts and students at this Forum.

As some of you may know, I just came back from a nine-day official trip to the United States, one of the main purposes of which was to update US officials, businesses and think tank representatives on Hong Kong's latest developments. On most of the Q&A sessions following my speech, roundtable discussions and bilateral meetings, the Belt and Road Initiative was mentioned. This is of course no surprise as the Belt and Road Initiative is perhaps the 21st century's most ambitious multilateral undertaking. Encompassing more than 60 countries spanning Asia, Europe and Africa, it aims to foster mutually rewarding progress among Belt and Road countries on policy, economic and cultural fronts.

The Initiative offers unprecedented opportunities to all territories, Hong Kong included. Indeed, that was what Mr Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, told the audience at the inaugural Belt and Road Summit on May 18 this year organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce and the People’s Bank of China.

Chairman Zhang, in his keynote speech, expressed clear support for Hong Kong to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. He outlined four areas in which Hong Kong can contribute: first, in building a platform of comprehensive services; second, in facilitating capital flows, Renminbi internationalization, and the development of an investment and financing platform; third, in promoting cultural exchanges; and fourth, in deepening co-operation with the Mainland to explore markets along the Belt and Road.

In each of these four areas, Hong Kong can leverage on its unique advantages of "one country, two systems". The arrangement enables us to maintain our internationality, while deepening integration and connection with the Mainland of China. Hong Kong is, I would say, the best intermediary between the Mainland of China and the rest of the world.

Starting with services. Hong Kong's professional services are on par with the best in the world. Our professionals in accounting, legal and arbitration, consultancy, and many other sectors, are highly-regarded for their professional ethics, competence and global outlook. In entering a new business environment, investing in large projects, handling commercial disputes, or dealing with property rights and investment protection – Hong Kong professionals are ideal service providers for both Mainland Chinese and Belt and Road enterprises.

Located at the heart of Asia and doorstep of the Mainland of China, Hong Kong is, naturally, a transportation and logistics hub. Not only are our airport and container port among the world’s busiest, but our services in maritime, port and railway industries are also first-rate.

Financial services are, of course, one of Hong Kong's greatest strengths. As an international financial centre and the world’s largest offshore Renminbi business centre, Hong Kong has the capital, products, and expertise to meet the growing demand for financial services along the Belt and Road. These include offshore Renminbi services, asset management, insurance and infrastructure financing. Speaking of which, we are now in discussions with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on joining the institution as a non-sovereign territory. This will certainly boost Hong Kong’s role in financing Belt and Road infrastructures.

Beyond economic relations, Hong Kong welcomes cultural exchanges with Belt and Road countries. Thanks to our cosmopolitan character and the presence of many community organisations in Hong Kong, we are well-placed to develop people-to-people bonds along the Belt and Road. We encourage more interaction between our peoples, especially youngsters like our students here, and support community organisations to reach out to Belt and Road counterparts.

Hong Kong looks forward to unleashing the full potential of our intermediary role – to attract capital, investment and technology to the Mainland of China; and to explore Belt and Road markets hand in hand with Mainland enterprises, especially those from neighbouring provinces and regions.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have every confidence that Hong Kong, riding on the emerging and exciting opportunities of the Belt and Road, will continue to progress, evolve and thrive. I wish you a stimulating and enjoyable discussion this afternoon.

Thank you very much.

12.06.2016


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