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HKSARG committed to promoting communication and exchange with Taiwan

The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, welcomed the representatives of Taiwan Business Association (HK) Ltd in a lunch reception today (January 7), and wished that both sides will endeavour to promote economic and trade relations between Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The Constitutional Affairs Bureau (CAB) has been vigorously keeping exchanges with Taiwan organisations and promoting economic and trade relations between Hong Kong and Taiwan, Mr Lam said.

He remarked that as the Taiwan Business Association (HK) Ltd had a good understanding of the situation both in Hong Kong and in Taiwan, it played an important bridging role in Hong Kong and Taiwan exchanges.

Taiwan is Hong Kong's fourth largest trading partner. Between January and August in 2004, bilateral trade between Hong Kong and Taiwan registered a total of over $130 billion, showing an increase of over 20 percent when compared with the figure for the same period in 2003.

In the period 1999 to 2003, the bilateral trade between Hong Kong and Taiwan had an average annual growth rate of 6%.

About 300 Taiwan companies have set up regional headquarters, regional offices or Hong Kong offices here in Hong Kong.

On tourism, Mr Lam said that the number of tourists in both Hong Kong and Taiwan had been increasing continuously. In 2004, more than two million Taiwanese visited Hong Kong. This figure showed a 20% increase when compared with that registered shortly after the reunification.

Of the applications received under the HKSAR's Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, about 10% are from Taiwan.

Mr Lam said that since the CAB took up in 2002 the task of handling issues relating to Taiwan, CAB had been promoting communication, exchange and co-operation of both sides in a systematic manner.

"For example, we have been arranging visits for the media from Taiwan to different government departments in order to facilitate their understanding of the implementation of the 'One Country, Two Systems'. The CAB has received media delegations in 2003 and 2004," he said.

"In 2003, during the outbreak of SARS, CAB arranged for exchanges between Taiwan and local experts and medical professionals. After SARS, the health authorities in HKSAR have been maintaining liaison with their counterparts in Taipei Municipal Government."

Mr Lam said they had also arranged for the return by chartered flight of a group of Hong Kong tourists who had been stranded at Taipei because of an alleged SARS case in the group.

A few months ago, when a tourist group from Hong Kong had an accident in Jiu Fen, the HKSAR Government had, through established communication channels, assisted the affected Hong Kong tourists to return to the territory within two to three days after the accident.

Mr Lam encouraged the Association to strengthen liaison and to continue to promote economic and trade relations between Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Ends/Friday, January 7, 2005