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Speech by CE at Hong Kong Trade Development Council's 50th anniversary cocktail reception

Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the 50th anniversary cocktail reception of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) today (December 1):

Vincent (Chairman of the TDC, Mr Vincent Lo), Margaret (Executive Director of the TDC, Ms Margaret Fong), distinguished guests, government colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council,

Good evening. Forgive me for not acknowledging by name each and every one of you who have played a vital role in the rise and continuing success of the Trade Development Council. There are just too many of you to thank individually, too many who have made remarkable contribution to the Council - and the progress of the Hong Kong economy over the past 50 years.

I have, I can assure you, attended many events organised by the TDC over the years. And I was also the Chairman, at one time, of the Professional Services (Advisory) Committee. One event that I often carry, I can't explain why, in my mind is a fashion show downstairs, some while ago when none other than Jack So was the Executive Director of the TDC. And I just checked with Jack his tenure with the TDC. I know it feels like yesterday, but it was actually more than a quarter of a century ago. It really goes to show how notable TDC events are.

In celebrating the 50th anniversary of TDC, we pay tribute to the Council's seminal work in championing, and advancing, the entrepreneurial spirit that has long powered Hong Kong.

TDC made a big impact from the get-go 50 years ago. Its first office, at Ocean Terminal, was set up in April 1966, some six months before its official establishment. Straight away the Council was banging the drum - and plenty of gongs - on behalf of Hong Kong SMEs and their highly valued products.

Within two months, TDC was in Barcelona for its first overseas debut. At a major trade fair there, it captured the most business interest and activities that any exhibitor could hope for. It helped that just outside the fair, so I am told, a Hong Kong auxiliary policewoman, who just happened to be an TDC employee, directed operations from a Hong Kong traffic pagoda. Now that's promotion you can't miss.

That autumn, razzle-dazzle Hong Kong promotions were attracting big crowds in London, in Stuttgart, and in nine US cities. As part of Macy's hugely popular Far East Festival, where some 200 000 people poured in a day, the Hong Kong promotion thrilled visitors with its 40-foot-long dragon boat, mini-fishing junks from Hong Kong, brass gongs, pagodas, traditional Chinese costumes and, of course, mountains of made-in-Hong Kong products.

That, as they say, was then - the heyday of Hong Kong-based manufacturing.

TDC has, since then, helped steer Hong Kong's transformation from a low-cost production centre to a global financial, trading and logistics hub. In doing so, it has supported Hong Kong businesses to explore new markets, to tap new opportunities all over the world, including the Mainland of China.

In 1980, TDC led the first Hong Kong business mission to the Mainland - in Guangzhou. That, of course, helped open the way for Hong Kong companies to set up business in the Pearl River Delta, precipitating a boom in Hong Kong production there.

Together with China's reform and opening up, the relocation of manufacturing industries to the Mainland also set in motion Hong Kong's rapid rise as a services-based economy.

Along the way, TDC, working with the Government and Hong Kong SMEs, has overcome countless challenges, from the Asian financial crisis, to SARS and the financial tsunami eight years ago.

Today, TDC organises a wealth of product and service shows - here in Hong Kong and around the world. And it does so on a big, top scale, bolstering our position as a global hub for trade fairs and conventions. At the same time, the best of our city, from intellectual property to fashion to finance and everything else, are showcased.

And as we look to a future propelled by innovation, TDC is there, spotlighting our technology and creative industries, and offering a multitude of programmes designed to help our SMEs embrace the promise of technology.

TDC is there, as well, promoting Hong Kong as the commercial hub for the country's Belt and Road Initiative. That inspired strategy, built upon infrastructure connectivity, will drive the global economy in the 21st century. Hong Kong businesses, with critical help from the Council, can play a game-changing role in the Belt and Road.

As much as TDC has achieved for Hong Kong over the past 50 years, I am confident it will continue to power ahead with the rest of Hong Kong in the next 50 years and more.

For that - for making Hong Kong products, services and companies winners in the global economy - my gratitude to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. To all of you.

Ladies and gentlemen, I know you will enjoy this banner evening. And I wish you all the best in 2017.

Thank you.

01.12.2016


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