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Financial Secretary


Ride out the turbulent waves

The sixth China International Import Expo (CIIE) is being held in Shanghai for six days starting today, the biggest ever in terms of the overall scale and participation of the Fortune Global 500 enterprises and top-notch enterprises in the industries. The number of participating small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) also increased by 40% as compared with that of the last Expo. The active participation of enterprises reflects that the CIIE, being the world’s first import-themed Expo at national level, serves as a platform for global enterprises to tap the huge consumer market in China and for our country to bring in high-quality foreign products to its people.

Hong Kong is proactively participating in the CIIE. Apart from setting up the Hong Kong Exhibition Area at the China Pavilion to showcase Hong Kong’s achievements and advantages, more than 300 Hong Kong enterprises mainly engaging in food business, consumer goods, trade in services and professional services are also joining the event. Hong Kong business people are also taking part in the pavilions of medical devices and technical equipment.

Attending the sixth China International Import Expo held in Shanghai
Attending the sixth China International Import Expo held in Shanghai
Attending the sixth China International Import Expo held in Shanghai
Attending the sixth China International Import Expo held in Shanghai

This year, the Hongqiao International Economic Forum, the highlight of the CIIE, will hold for the first time a parallel session themed “Channelling Global Business through Hong Kong”. At the parallel session, the Chief Executive, together with representatives of different sectors in Hong Kong, will promote the unique advantages of Hong Kong under “One Country Two Systems”. I will also attend a parallel session on finance as speaker in the afternoon today, explaining how Hong Kong gives full play to its distinctive function and role as the international financial centre of the country with the advantage of enjoying strong support of the Motherland and being closely connected to the world, thereby better revitalising real economy with financial resources.

This year marks the sixth CIIE. It has highlighted the development philosophy of the country to continue opening up and achieving a win-win situation even in the face of a complex and volatile international landscape. Our country is committed to moving towards high-quality development together with the international community, and providing staunch support to the recovery of global trade and economy.

In fact, the global economy’s recovery momentum has been weak this year. In light of rising unilateralism and protectionism as well as geopolitical tensions, the International Monetary Fund earlier estimated that growth would slow further to 2.9% next year.

Domestically, various factors such as the weak external environment, high interest rates, and financial market performance have, to some extent, limited the strength of the rebound in local consumption. The recently announced economic growth rate of 4.1% in the third quarter is more moderate than expected.

As for the fourth quarter, inbound tourism and private consumption are expected to remain the main growth drivers of the Hong Kong economy. Continued improvement in household income, together with the Government’s various support initiatives, will provide a certain degree of support to local consumption. Nevertheless, generally speaking, taking into account the slightly weaker-than-expected recovery of the economy in the first three quarters, the full-year growth forecast to be announced this week will be lower than the projection made at the beginning of this year.

Last week, I delivered a speech at Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023.
Touring an exhibition booth during Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023
Touring an exhibition booth during Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023

In future, we must continue to enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong and inject energy into the economy through technological innovations and applications. Fintech is one example. Being one of the major annual events, Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023 was held last week and attracted a total of 30,000 participants from 90 economies around the world. The Hong Kong SAR Government has been actively promoting the development of Fintech in recent years, and we are now seeing fruitful results. This year, more new measures and results have been announced, such as promoting cross-boundary usage of e-CNY, implementing the connection between the faster payment systems of Hong Kong and Thailand, launching a new Integrated Fund Platform, etc. Empowerment through technology not only improves the efficiency of resources allocation in financial services, but also helps promote more product innovations, so that our residents can benefit from more convenient and inclusive financial services.

Following that, we will hold the second Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit (the Summit) this week (6 - 8 November), with the theme “Living with Complexity”. The Summit will bring together global financial leaders and representatives from Mainland financial regulators. The Summit will focus on examining the trends and changes that have far-reaching implications on the financial industry under the current highly complex global financial and investment environment. While we certainly need to be prudent in guarding against risks, it is equally important for us to keep abreast of the trends, to seize the opportunities lying ahead and to progress steadily, which are key to reinforcing and enhancing Hong Kong’s competitiveness.

This year’s Summit will be attended by up to 300 leaders from the world’s top financial institutions, including 90 group chairmen or CEOs. By travelling to Hong Kong in person, our guests can see how Hong Kong has resumed full normalcy, and witness our new edges and opportunities. They can also take the opportunity to meet investors and clients in person to establish new business relationships, as well as their staff based here, so as to facilitate their institutions to leverage Hong Kong as a high-value-added platform for supporting their business development in the Mainland and Asia.

November 5, 2023

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