SCMA's speech at Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair Opening Ceremony (English only)

     The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, officiated at the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair 2012 Opening Ceremony this morning (September 5). Following is Mr Tam's speech:

Fred (Lam), Gabriel (Au), Mandy (Lai), Eddie (Leung), Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

     It is my honour today to address the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2012.

     As the world's largest timepiece event and being held for the 31st year, the Fair has enjoyed a high reputation of bringing in a significant number of watch and clock industry participants from different parts of the world, creating an ideal business platform and presenting huge business opportunities for all stakeholders. It has been a perfect arena for those looking for new ideas and designs, as well as those targeting to enhance brand recognition.

     Hong Kong has assumed an important role in the international trade of watches and clocks. In terms of value, Hong Kong was the world's largest importer of complete watches and assembled watch movements, and the second largest exporter of complete watches and complete clocks in 2010. The European Union, United States and Switzerland have been our three largest exports markets, accounting for half of the total share. Mainland China is closely running up to be the fourth.

     Despite the weakening global economy, Hong Kong saw continuous growth of 13 per cent in its total exports of watches and clocks in the first half of 2012, amounting to HK$34.7 billion, or about US$4.45 billion. Hong Kong will continue to present business opportunities for the watch and clock industry by leveraging on the Mainland while engaging the world at large.

     The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has put forward "homeland relations" as an umbrella framework which encompasses different aspects of Hong Kong's interface with the Mainland.

     Under the initiative, we aim to provide better support to Hong Kong enterprises and professionals investing and working on the Mainland. We also aim to enhance the cooperation with our regional partners in the Mainland. Among others, we will work with the Central and local Governments to step up efforts to implement facilitation measures for Hong Kong enterprises including the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) and other policy measures announced by the Central Government.

     We have implemented a number of measures over the years that have benefited the trade. For example, under CEPA (Supplement) III which took effect in January 2006, all Hong Kong products can be imported into the Mainland at zero tariffs. Watches made in Hong Kong with a Hong Kong brand are no longer required to fulfill the 30 per cent value-added components requirement in order to be eligible for zero tariffs. Another example is the launch of the pilot scheme for cross-border Renminbi trade settlement in 2009 and its subsequent expansions, which provided trading partners with greater flexibility in their operations and minimised the risk arising from fluctuation of exchange rates. We believe that our policy measures on strengthening "homeland relations" will bring about more benefits to Hong Kong, which of course includes the watch and clock industry.

     My Bureau, which is responsible for Mainland affairs, apart from all the elections, will continue to work in this direction. Hopefully, in the near future, there will be some new initiatives which we can put forward for public consultation and discussion.

     You may all note that the last day of this Fair is the 9th of September, which is also an important day for Hong Kong. It is the polling day for the Hong Kong Legislative Council Election. This year, every registered elector will have two votes – one for a geographical constituency and one for a functional constituency. The polling stations will open from 7.30am to 10.30pm, and I would like to take this opportunity to invite our Hong Kong citizens to vote for your preferred candidates this Sunday.

     Finally, may I congratulate the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association, and the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades and Industries on co-organising this world renowned event. I wish this year's Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair a splendid success!

     Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, September 5, 2012