View Full Version : Focus on Hong Kong - Asia's world city!
City of Life
August 24th, 2003, 02:32 PM
Hello! This is a thread for publicising news in Asia's world city. Let's see what's happening here in Hong Kong!:)
City of Life
August 24th, 2003, 02:34 PM
1.6 million tourists expected for August
Tourism revitalisation has been faster than expected, with overall tourist figures possibly reaching 1.6 million this month.
Speaking on a radio talk show this morning, Commissioner for Tourism Eva Cheng said over 800,000 tourists visited Hong Kong during the first two weeks of the month. Although she did not estimate how many Mainland tourists will visit during the upcoming National Day holidays, she expects the number to be higher than last year.
To handle the upsurge, the Government has taken a number of measures, such as increasing cross-boundary services, enhancing Immigration Department manpower deployment at checkpoints and stepping up communication with Mainland authorities. Ms Cheng said the Government will also step up publicity on the Mainland to inform visitors of the expected waiting time at all cross-boundary checkpoints.
The Government will work closely with the trade to divert tourists to checkpoints with higher passenger-handling capacity. On improving the quality of the tourism trade, Ms Cheng said the Government will extend the scale of the existing quality service scheme and continue exploring new historic and ecological tourism spots.
City of Life
August 24th, 2003, 07:10 PM
New milestone in exhibition industry set
The Government, Airport Authority and a consortium led by Dragages et Travaux Publics (HK) have entered into a joint venture for the design, construction and operation of a new international exhibition centre at HK International Airport. Its soft opening will be held by 2006.
Financial Secretary Henry Tang said the new centre represented a significant milestone for the continued growth of Hong Kong's exhibition industry and our existing world-class facilities at the Convention & Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. "This combination will ensure that Hong Kong remains competitive in capturing the growing exhibition market in the region, has sufficient quality facilities to stage a wide range of exhibitions, and is unrivalled in its ability to accommodate large events," Mr Tang said.
"It will definitely take our convention and exhibition business to a new level and consolidate our position as the convention and exhibition hub of the Asia-Pacific region."
Centre will help generate $10 billion
"I believe that the centre will bring significant economic benefits to Hong Kong. A vibrant convention and exhibition industry in Hong Kong will contribute to strengthening our position as a trade fair capital and help attract more overseas visitors," Mr Tang said.
The Government will be investing $2 billion in the project, which is expected to generate economic benefits of more than $10 billion over 25 years.
The new centre, with a first phase of 66,000 square metres of exhibition space on one level, will have the largest column-free exhibition halls in Hong Kong. Its soft opening will take place by the end of 2005 while the phase 1 development will be completed for full operation in the first quarter of 2006.
First phase development to cost $2.3 billion. It will be capable of further expansion to 100,000 square metres of exhibition space in response to market demand.
According to the joint venture agreement, the Government and the consortium will fund the construction costs, while the Airport Authority will contribute the land, in exchange for equity stakes in the joint venture.
The construction cost of the first phase development is estimated to be about $2.3 billion.
More than 2,000 jobs on the way
Construction of the new centre will bring about 2,000 jobs. While in operation, it will directly employ about 150 staff, and indirectly about 800 staff. Many more employment opportunities will also be created in support of the activities held at the new centre and through tourism.
Director-General of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse said Hong Kong clearly needs an additional facility to handle the Convention Centre's overflow, and to accommodate events which may have particular floor loading and configuration requirements.
"HK is the premier location for international exhibitions in the region, Asia's world city and the best business location in the Asia-Pacific," he said.
HK can host a wider range of shows
"The new centre will enable Hong Kong to host a greater number and a wider range of exhibitions to reinforce Hong Kong's position as an international business centre and trade fair capital," Mr Rowse added. Speaking after the signing ceremony, Airport Authority chief executive officer David Pang said the centre will be a key component of leveraging the airport as the cornerstone of a multi-faceted and aviation-based business hub.
"The centre would be able to take advantage of the fact that the airport has connections to more than 140 cities world-wide on some 75 airlines. In addition, Hong Kong allows visa-free entry from a majority of those connections, which is another tremendous plus for an exhibition centre that can offer maximum convenience and accessibility to its customers," he said.
Multi-purpose hall can house 13,500 seats
Dragages Managing Director Luc Messier said the consortium was delighted to have entered into the joint venture agreement with the Government and Airport Authority to develop the world-class exhibition facility. "The large, open exhibition space on one floor will make it a perfect venue for trade and public exhibitions of all types, from consumer trade fairs to industrial fairs, and will also attract large public shows and entertainment events, thanks to its multi-purpose hall which can accommodate up to 13,500 moveable seats."
City of Life
August 24th, 2003, 07:18 PM
Better breeding for HK's terns
Over 1,000 terns have been studied in Hong Kong, a record high in recent years.
About 860 terns, or 90%, have been found at their known breeding sites on islands in the Tolo Channel and Mirs Bay this summer. The number of terns increased by 50% when compared with the same period last year.
Positive tern: Bridled, Roseate and Black-naped terns are being successfully bred in artifical nest boxes set up by the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department. The population of Black-naped and Bridled Terns reached a record high, said Senior Wetland Park Officer Edmond Lam . There were 240 Black-naped and 570 Bridled Terns at the sites, representing rises of 124% and 26% respectively over last year.
The Roseate Tern, whose population fell from 120 in 1998 to only eight last year, increased significantly to 55. There are 44 species of terns in the world and 12 are found in Hong Kong. The above three species migrate to Hong Kong every summer.Some 200 terns were also found to be breeding on islands which did not have any previous breeding record.
Artificial next boxes boost reproduction
The population increase has been helped by an Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department trial scheme to breed terns in artificial nest boxes this summer.At one of the test sites, Mr Lam said, all the nest boxes were occupied by terns, with 56% used for breeding. The hatching rate of tern eggs in the nest boxes was 80%. This compared to the 28% hatching rate of eggs in natural non-sheltered environments. The hatching rate of eggs in the nest boxes was 2.8-fold higher than those in the wild.
Under the scheme, the department installed 16 artificial nest boxes in a known breeding site, and put another 16 boxes, 80 tern decoys, and a machine sending out the voices of terns on an island visited by the bird.
Tern decoys and tern call machines were also used to lure terns to breed on an island with no previous breeding record. The measures were to lure the seabird to nest on the island, and possibly diversify its breeding site.
Tern conservation measures effective
Mr Lam said the department's conservation measures have proven effective in increasing the tern population. They include:
* Producing leaflets and posters on conserving terns, along with codes and laws for protecting and watching terns for target groups including eco-tourists, bird watchers, divers, students and anglers;
* Monitoring the tern population and breeding conditions;
* Displaying prominent warnings in breeding areas to stop visitors from entering tern nesting sites; and,
* Stationing department officers at breeding sites when necessary to enforce relevant protection laws and codes.
City of Life
August 24th, 2003, 07:27 PM
Shanghai firms urged to use HK for M&As
An investment seminar in Shanghai aimed at promoting Hong Kong as a merger and acquisition platform drew delegates from more than 100 Mainland enterprises.
The event provided tips on establishing or strengthening their footholds in Hong Kong, to help them expand globally - in line with the Central Government's "Going Out" policy.
Invest Hong Kong, the Ministry of Commerce's Department of Foreign Economic Cooperation, and the Liaison Office's Economic Affairs Department's Trade Office jointly organised the event - the second investment seminar the trio has hosted.
HK provides access to global capital
Invest Hong Kong's Director-General of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse was pleased at the event's strong turnout. "Strengthening economic ties between Hong Kong and the Mainland creates a win-win situation for both places," he said. "A presence in Hong Kong allows Mainland enterprises to accelerate their global expansion by obtaining access to international capital - and to acquire new customers and local professional know-how."
At the same time, he added, their investment strengthens Hong Kong's role as an international finance centre and a gateway to China. It also adds weight to the local stock market.
At the end of July, 242 Mainland enterprises were listed in Hong Kong, including 81 H-share companies, 73 red chips, and 88 Mainland enterprises that are registered overseas. They jointly raised more than $780 billion in capital.
HK helps Mainland companies expand globally
The Deputy Director of the Department of Foreign Economic Cooperation in the Ministry of Commerce, Ying-jun Liu, said Hong Kong is still one of the world's most dynamic locations to conduct business. "A growing number of leading Mainland enterprises aim to expand into global markets," she said. "Establishing a business presence in Hong Kong and using the SAR's many advantages is an important first step towards their global expansion. This trend will also reinforce Hong Kong's position as an international finance hub, and a trading and services centre, enhancing the economic development of both Hong Kong and the Mainland."
She sincerely hoped that Mainland companies attending the seminar would take the opportunity to learn more about the investment environment and business climate in Hong Kong, and gain valuable input for developing their corporate strategies.
City of Life
August 24th, 2003, 07:32 PM
Canadian outbreak watched closely
Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong says it is still not known whether a mutated form of coronavirus has caused the respiratory illness outbreak in a Canadian elderly home.
On a duty visit to Macau, Dr Yeoh said if the virus is confirmed to have mutated, the Government has to make adjustments to Hong Kong's surveillance system. He said the Hospital Authority and Department of Health have been in close contact to discuss ways of enhancing it, and it is expected that additional surveillance measures can be concluded next week.
Dr Yeoh said people feeling unwell after returning from Canada should contact health authorities immediately. In response to the findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry Report on the SARS outbreak, which highlighted an incident at the Baptist Hospital, Dr Yeoh said the Government will strengthen communication with private hospitals. Dr Yeoh said the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority are fully engaged in the SARS fight, and admitted that communication between the Government and private hospitals was insufficient.
The Government has been aware of the issue and will explore ways to boost communication with the hospitals, he said.
City of Life
August 24th, 2003, 07:58 PM
Tycoon Li says Hong Kong should be proud of mass protest
Tycoon Li Ka-shing has said Hong Kong should be proud of a July 1 rally by half a million people, which was called to protest against a move to pass controversial anti-subversion laws.
Li, Asia's richest man, told local media after announcing the interim results of his flagship firms Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa late Thursday, that he was impressed by the size of the march. "My feeling (about the march) is very good," he said, noting that it was carried out in "good order."
Following the July 1 rally, the passage of the national security laws have been postponed and two key ministers in Hong Kong resigned. "There should be more opinions. And in modern society, we should be listening to each other's opinions," Li said.
He said his companies invested a lot of money in western countries, because "I like their democracy and law and order."
Li, who has well-established links to China's leadership, was initially critical of Hong Kong's post-handover government but has been relatively silent on political issues in recent years.
He said Thursday it was far easier to criticise the Hong Kong government and its chief executive Tung Chee-hwa than to find solutions for the city's economic troubles. People should not blame Tung for all the economic problems, Li said, noting that even if there had not been the Asian financial crisis, Hong Kong would still have undergone economic restructuring given its bubble economy in 1997.
However, he remained upbeat over the economic prospects for the former British colony which returned to Chinese control in 1997. "I'm optimistic about Hong Kong's long-term prospects despite the present difficulties and challenges facing the economy," said Li.
"The cornerstone of Hong Kong's resilience lies in its internal stability and unity. We can weather the present difficulties provided we make a concerted effort to strive for harmony and bring into full play all of our existing advantages," he said.
"We expect the local economy will get back on track to a steady recovery in the second half year, as economic and business activities have gradually returned to normal," following the containment of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome which hit Hong Kong between March and June, he said.
The signing of the closer economic partnership arrangement between Hong Kong and China in June would give further "impetus" to Hong Kong's immediate and long-term growth, Li said.
His global business empire encompasses property, utilities, ports, telecommunications and supermarkets.
City of Life
August 25th, 2003, 06:16 PM
Insurance industry sees steady growth
The Hong Kong insurance industry fared well the first half of 2003, according to provisional statistics from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.
In the first half of 2003, the gross and net premiums of general insurance business recorded a growth of 3.1% to $12.68 billion and 3.6% to $8.61 billion, respectively, compared with the same period a year earlier.
Lower commissions, increased premiums boost profits
At the same time, the overall underwriting profit of general insurance business improved to $810 million from $332 million. Property damage business alone accounted for an underwriting profit of $453 million, due to a lowering in both the commissions and claims ratios. As for pecuniary loss business, significant improvement was also made in its underwriting performance, bringing its underwriting result from a loss of $112 million to a profit of $63.5 million.
The underwriting performance of motor vehicle business and general liability business (mainly employees' compensation business) also improved. The motor vehicle business reduced its loss from $87.9 million to $16.5 million, while the general liability business improved from a loss of $103 million to a profit of $43.2 million. These improvements were attributable to the effect of the continued reduction in commissions ratio in the case of the motor vehicle business, and the increase in premium rates in the case of the general liability business during the period.
Individual life, annuity business picks up
In respect of long-term business, the total revenue premiums of long-term in-force business collected by the insurance industry amounted to $35.15 billion in the first half of 2003, an increase of 11.6% over the same period of 2002. For revenue premiums of each major class, individual life and annuity (non-linked) business grew by 22.4% to $20.85 billion; individual life and annuity (linked) business and retirement scheme business decreased by 2% to $5.83 billion and 1.8% to $7.28 billion, respectively. On the benefits side, the total insurance benefits paid to individuals during the said period decreased by 4%, to $11.52 billion.
New long-term business shows steady growth
For new business, the statistics showed that the long-term insurance industry still maintained steady growth in the first half of 2003. The new office premiums (excluding the retirement scheme business) amounted to $10.03 billion, an increase of 16.1% over the same period in 2002. Owing to the considerable growth in single premium business, the major component of the long-term business - individual life and annuity (non-linked) business - continued to record a significant increase of 51.5% in new office premiums, to $6.92 billion.
Individual life and annuity (linked) business fell by 22.5% in new office premiums, to $2.89 billion in the first half of 2003.
City of Life
August 25th, 2003, 06:32 PM
Canadian outbreak a common cold, not SARS
Experts have confirmed that the outbreak of respiratory illness in a Canadian seniors' home is a common cold caused by a coronavirus - not SARS - the newly appointed Director of Health says.
Dr Lam Ping-yan said the department has not detected any outbreak of a similar nature in Hong Kong, adding that existing precautionary measures taken at the airport will not be stepped down.
Gov't to enhance its capability for epidemic control
Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Dr Lam said the Government will enhance its capability for epidemic control. Apart from boosting local healthcare workers' training, overseas experts will be invited to Hong Kong to share their knowledge and experience.
The Government will co-operate with the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong and overseas organisations in devising a contingency plan for handling any possible epidemic in future.
To prevent influenza outbreak, the department will extend its existing vaccination scheme. Apart from giving injections to the elderly living in seniors' residences, the department will also give injections to all healthcare workers and mentally-retarded children living in Government hostels in October and November.
Communication with Mainland counterparts enhanced
Turning to the upsurge of Mainland visitors, Dr Lam said the department has enhanced its communication with its cross-boundary counterpart. He believes that the upsurge will not create a great health problem to Hong Kong nor increase the possibility of spreading infectious illness. In response to the findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry Report on the SARS outbreak, which highlighted an incident at the Baptist Hospital, Dr Lam said the Government will study the findings carefully and take appropriate actions.
Direct communication with private hospitals exists
There has been direct communication between the department and private hospitals, Dr Lam said, adding that the department is willing to provide assistance to private hospitals.
On the renewal of Baptist Hospital's licence, he said the Government will handle the issue following the existing procedures.
City of Life
August 25th, 2003, 06:37 PM
New link to bring $175b benefit
A $2.188-billion contract has been awarded to Gammon-Skanska-MBEC Joint Venture for building the Shenzhen Western Corridor Hong Kong Section, which will be completed by 2006. The new cross-boundary link is expected to bring a net economic benefit of $175 billion over the 20 year planning horizon from 2000 to 2020.
To mark the construction of the new link, Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan, Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua and Shenzhen Party Secretary Huang Liman will jointly officiate at a foundation-stone laying ceremony in Shenzhen this Thursday (August 28). The five-kilometre-long Shenzhen Western Corridor is a dual three-lane expressway spanning Deep Bay, linking Ngau Hom Shek in Hong Kong and Shekou in Shenzhen. The Hong Kong section will run for 3.2 kilometres, while the remaining 1.8 kilometres will be built by the Shenzhen government.
New link a Pearl River Delta landmark
The new link will be a landmark for the Pearl River Delta, and a symbol of close collaboration and partnership between the two jurisdictions. It will help alleviate traffic at the nearly saturated existing vehicular boundary crossings at Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To and Sha Tau Kok, and boost further economic development, particularly in the areas of finance, logistics and tourism. It will also strengthen Hong Kong's position as the hub of the delta region.
Design symbolises synergistic ties
Turning to the design, the towers on the cable-stayed bridge are inclined towards each other and symbolise the two regions' desire to build a synergistic relationship for greater prosperity. Wind tunnel tests have been conducted to verify the aerodynamic performance of the bridge.
Since Deep Bay is an ecologically important area with extensive inter-tidal mudflats in close proximity to the Mai Po Nature Reserve Area, Hong Kong and Shenzhen will implement joint environmental monitoring and audit to preserve the ecological value of the area throughout the implementation of the project.
Measures in place to preserve nature
Mitigation measures, such as the use of closed-grab dredgers for sediment dredging, installation of a cofferdam and silt curtain, and building of a temporary bridge and working platform above the mudflat will be adopted to maintain the area's water quality and the environment. A water channel is being dredged to abate the impact of degrading sedimentation on Mai Po Nature Reserve. Upon completion, the channel will improve the water exchange capacity and enhance the feeding grounds for Mai Po's birds.
Mangroves will also be replanted under the bridge upon completion.
City of Life
August 26th, 2003, 10:42 AM
Gov't committed to tackling joblessness
Unemployment is a great concern to the Government, Permanent Secretary for Economic Development & Labour Matthew Cheung said, adding that it is taking steps to ease the jobless situation.
Addressing the launch of 2003 NWS Holdings - Urban Group Recruitment Month and the "University Elites" Executive Management Trainees Recruitment Day today, Mr Cheung outlined recently introduced measures to tackle the problem.
* In May, the Government put forward a $432 million relief package to provide 21,500 short-term employment and training opportunities. These included 10,000 skills-enhancement training places for workers in sectors hard hit by SARS who were unemployed or temporarily suspended without pay. All the newly-created posts have been filled.
* The Government allocated an additional $715 million in July to create 32,000 job opportunities, including 19,050 short-term jobs and 13,000 training places. Recruitment work commenced in mid-July and successful candidates are starting to report for duty.
* The Labour Department has launched employment programmes to strengthen its support for job-seekers. Apart from implementing the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme and Youth Work Experience & Training Programme, the department has introduced the Graduate Employment Training Scheme, Re-employment Training Programme for the Middle-aged and District Employment Programme for the Middle-aged.
The Re-employment Training Programme encourages employers to offer on-the-job training to middle-aged unemployed people. Employers receive a training allowance of $1,500 a month for each participant employed for three months. Some 12,000 job seekers are expected to benefit from the programme. Employers who hire university graduates and provide them with on-the-job training under the Graduate Employment Training Scheme will be paid a monthly allowance of $2,000 for each trainee engaged for a maximum of six months. About 2,000 university graduates will benefit from the programme. "All these demonstrate that the Government is committed to providing comprehensive employment assistance to job seekers of different age groups and academic qualifications," Mr Cheung said.
Prepare for recovery: invest in human resources
He noted that there were signs of a steady pick-up in a number of business sectors. The latest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by just 0.1% and there are signs that the upward adjustment is slowing down. "With fresh graduates entering the labour market, the unemployment rate in the short term will remain high. Although most companies are still having a hard time now, it is high time to invest in human resources to prepare for economic recovery," Mr Cheung said.
The manpower requirement for property management has always been high, he noted. With the completion of quite a number of new building projects and the need for quality property management in the post-SARS period, such demand will further increase.
City of Life
August 27th, 2003, 06:59 AM
Task Force endorses preventive measures
The SARS Task Force has endorsed the measures taken by the Government to prevent and prepare for the possible resurgence of SARS, particularly its prompt action in response to the Canadian outbreak. In its meeting today, members re-examined the measures as part of its ongoing review in the light of the recent outbreak of acute respiratory illness in an elderly residential care facility in Canada.
The committee was pleased to note that prompt action has been undertaken by the Government in response to the Canadian incident where 96 residents and 51 staff had been affected and 11 deaths reported.
Although the World Health Organisation confirmed Canada's findings that SARS was not the cause of the incident, Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong stressed the need to remain vigilant with the preventive measures as long as the threat of SARS remained.
"We should closely monitor the health situation of elderly home residents by strengthening the current outbreak reporting and health surveillance as SARS is known to cause atypical presentations in the elderly," he said. The meeting also discussed the setting up of an enhanced surveillance system for SARS and an early alert system to detect possible reintroduction of SARS.
The Hospital Authority will step up the monitoring of staff fallen ill with symptoms similar to SARS while the Department of Health will improve notification by elderly homes of ill residents. At today's meeting, Dr Yeoh noted the progress of the review and agreed that the measures should be put in place as soon as practicable to meet unforeseen and future challenges as the Canadian event had already rung a warning bell. These measures are broadly classified into two categories - public health and hospital services.
On the public health front, appropriate measures will be implemented in the areas of preventing the import or export of new cases; extending disease surveillance in the international and local contexts; controlling the disease; and enhancing public awareness of personal and environmental hygiene.
With hospital services, plans are in hand for enhancing the public hospital systems in the following areas: surveillance for infectious diseases; clinical management; infection control measures; care for the elderly; strategy for cohorting patients; infection control facilities; human resources capabilities in handling infectious diseases; and contingency plans in hospitals.
On the setting up a Centres for Disease Control-type organisation for the longer-term prevention and control of infectious disease, members noted various options are still being studied and the views of the SARS Expert Committee will be taken into account when its report is released in October.
City of Life
August 27th, 2003, 07:06 AM
Half-year timepiece exports up 14%
Creative clocks: Winning works in the 20th HK Watch & Clock Design Competition will be displayed at the HK Watch & Clock Fair 2003.
The value of watch and clock exports increased to $19.1 billion in the first six months of 2003, up 14% over the same period last year.
The HK Watch & Clock Fair Organising Committee noted that it is optimistic about the future development of the industry. The upward trend will continue, the committee said, adding that the upsurge of Mainland tourists and the implementation of the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement will help revitalise the trade. The committee said the arrangement will further enhance the trade's competitiveness and boost the value of watch and clock products exported to the Mainland.
The industry also believes that more watch manufacturers will use Hong Kong as their production base. To promote the trade, the fair will be held from September 3 to 7 at the Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Forty-two labels of 36 watch companies will be displayed in the fair. Meanwhile, the winning works of the 20th HK Watch & Clock Design Competition will also be displayed at the fair.
For further in formation, visit this website:Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair (http://www.hkwatchfair.com/)
City of Life
August 27th, 2003, 07:15 AM
GFS helicopter crash claims two lives
A Government Flying Service helicopter crashed on a hillside near Tung Chung on Lantau late last night, killing its pilot and a crew member.
This was the Service's first fatal accident since its establishment in 1993.
Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa and Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee were shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the incident. "Their dedication will be long remembered by the community. My deepest condolences go to their families," Mr Tung said.
Investigation to be conducted
He was concerned about the accident and said there will be an investigation.
The Civil Aviation Department has set up a task force comprising representatives from the department, Government Flying Service and aircraft engineering experts to look into the incident.
The security chief said the Government stands ready to provide all possible assistance to their families.
Government Flying Service Controller Brian Butt said 34-year-old pilot Pang Fu-kwok and 31-year-old air crewman Chan Man-tik were highly devoted and committed officers. Mr Pang had about 4,000 flying hours. He joined the Government seven years ago and is survived by his wife and a son.
Mr Chan had five years' experience and about 2,200 flying hours. He was awarded a bronze medal for bravery in 1992 for his selfless action duing a rescue operation.
Mr Butt extended deepest condolences to their families.
In light of the accident, the department immediately checked the four other Eurocopter helicopters of the same model to ensure safety.
Although GFS crew members do get sufficient rest and their aircraft are properly maintained, the department will carry out a review on how to step up flight safety, he added.
Helicopter lost contact bound for Cheung Chau
The helicopter left its base at Chek Lap Kok at about 10.30pm bound for Cheung Chau to airlift a casualty to hospital. GFS headquarters at Chek Lap Kok lost contact with it at 10.41.
An air, sea and land search and rescue operation was immediately begun.
The Civil Aviation Department coordinated the search, involving two GFS helicopters, several vessels from the Marine Police, Fire Services Department and Marine Department, as well as the Mountain Rescue Unit of the Civil Aid Service. Firemen located the wreckage of the helicopter at about 300 metres near Fung Wong Path, Fung Wong Shan on Lantau Island just after 1.15 this morning. The crew members were found trapped inside the wreck shortly before 3am. They were rushed to Princess Margaret Hospital where they were certified dead on arrival at around 4am.
Low visibility made rescue operation difficult
Commenting on the rescue operation, Fire Service Department Rescue Commander Yip Ming said it was difficult owing to darkness, steep slopes and fog. The department mobilised 19 fire engines and three fire boats in the operation. About 20 Civil Aid Service members also joined the rescue.
Deputy Director of Civil Aviation Norman Lo said the task force will obtain information on the weather, flight controls, accident site and the helicopter. He noted that it will take some time to complete, adding that Eurocopter, the French manufacturer of the helicopter, will be notified of the accident.
Secretary for the Civil Service Joseph Wong expressed his regret in a statement, and thanked those involved in the rescue and follow-up investigation for their efforts.
City of Life
August 27th, 2003, 07:23 AM
First Film Guarantee Fund loans approved
Two film companies have obtained a total loan of $7.18 million for their productions under the Film Guarantee Fund, the first loans approved since the fund was launched in April.
HKCB Finance offered a $2.5-million loan to a My Way Film Company project, while HSBC provided a $4.68-million loan to another film. The fund offered a guarantee of 50% of the loans. Welcoming the approvals, Commissioner for Television & Entertainment Licensing Lorna Wong said it set a new milestone in the establishment of a film financing infrastructure in Hong Kong. She hoped these two successes will encourage the closer collaboration between the film and financial sectors, and will be conducive to the long term and healthy development of the film industry.
City of Life
August 28th, 2003, 10:55 AM
Acting FS upbeat about exhibition industry
The acting Financial Secretary Stephen Ip was upbeat about the outlook of the exhibition industry in Hong Kong, adding that the number of exhibition and convention visitors to Hong Kong has more than tripled in the past decade. He said at the opening ceremony of the First Asian Exhibition Forum at the Convention Centre that the presence of overseas guests at the event "demonstrates clearly that Hong Kong has resumed our natural state as a vibrant, cosmopolitan and business-oriented city".
Looking ahead, he said signs are positive, not only for the exhibition industry but for Hong Kong's economy as a whole. China's accession to the World Trade Organisation has acted as a catalyst for increased international trade with, and investment into, China. "The trade fairs held in Hong Kong play a crucial role in this process," he said.
CEPA opens doors to new opportunities
The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between Hong Kong and China also provides a new platform for businesses in Hong Kong, whether local or foreign-owned, to tap the vast opportunities that exist in the Mainland market. The increased co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong Province is already providing a major boost to Hong Kong's tourism industry.
"Both of these developments - the CEPA and cross-boundary co-operation - will mean more Mainland buyers and exhibitors at Hong Kong trade fairs," he said.
Exhibitions help boost economy
The exhibition industry has made significant contributions to Hong Kong's economy. A recent Business Strategies Group study showed that in 2002, the exhibition industry contributed $7.3 billion to the economy. That sum was spent not only on the exhibitions, but also in related sectors such as hotels, restaurants and retail.
Conventions, taken separately, contributed another $675 million to the economy - again, mostly in the form of tourism income from overseas visitors. Spending by overseas participants in conventions and exhibitions in Hong Kong is more than double the per capita spending of visitors overall.
New airport exhibition centre to attract more visitors
There are some exciting infrastructure developments for the exhibition industry. One is the new world-class International Exhibition Centre at Hong Kong International Airport, which is scheduled for soft opening by the end of 2005. The Government will be investing $2 billion in the project, which is expected to generate economic benefits of more than $10 billion over a 25-year period. At 66,000 square metres for the first phase, it will have the largest column-free exhibition halls in Hong Kong, spacious enough to host heavy equipment fairs. There are also plans to add 30,000 square meters by 2009.
Asia's world city boasts advantages
Hong Kong's other advantages particularly relevant to the exhibition industry include:
* being the world's freest economy;
* strong connections with mainland China;
* leading-edge infrastructure, namely the ports, airport, state-of-the-art telecoms, sophisticated financial institutions, and world-class exhibition venues;
* expertise in the services sector in general and the exhibition industry in particular; and
* adoption of the 'small government, big market' principle.
The combination of these "will definitely take our convention and exhibition business to a new level and consolidate our position as the convention and exhibition hub in the Asia-Pacific region", Mr Ip said.
City of Life
August 29th, 2003, 05:38 PM
HK has bounced back: FS
Friendly exchange: Financial Secretary Henry Tang pays a visit to Governor of People's Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan this afternoon and exchanged views on the prospect of developments of the financial sectors in Hong Kong and the Mainland.
The GDP forecast growth rate revision shows that Hong Kong has bounced back quickly after the SARS outbreak, Financial Secretary Henry Tang says, adding that he is optimistic about Hong Kong's economic outlook. Speaking in Beijing this afternoon, Mr Tang said he believes there will be improvements in Hong Kong's employment situation by year's end.
He also welcomed the State Administration of Foreign Exchange's decision to allow mainlanders to carry more foreign exhange.
Foreign exchange allowance doubled for Mainlanders
It announced today that from September 1, people entering or leaving the Mainland will be allowed to carry foreign currency in cash equal to US$5,000 without making a Customs declaration. The move aims to facilitate businesses and tie in with the Mainland's further reform and opening up. At present, they aren allowed to carry only US$2,000. On the 'individual-visit' scheme, Mr Tang said it will be available to people in Shanghai and Beijing on September 1, adding that the scheme should be implemented gradually to ensure that Hong Kong has the support systems in place for visitors.
Beijing upbeat on HK's latest economic situation
During his stay in Beijing, Mr Tang met with State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan to report on his work as Hong Kong's new financial chief and the latest economic situation. He also exchanged views with Governor of People's Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan on the prospect of developments of the financial sectors in Hong Kong and the Mainland. In a separate development, Government Economist Tang Kwong-yiu said Government revenue may be affected by SARS, which will also impact GDP. He said the influence of SARS on Government revenue will be known early next year, and he hoped that the impact will be short-lived.
Details on CEPA ready next month
On the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, Mr Tang said it will bring Hong Kong many business opportunities. He said details of the arrangement are being worked out, and will be made public next month. As the arrangement will be implemented in stages next year and in full operation in 2006, its effect on Hong Kong's economy will not be seen immediately, he said. On the 'individual-visit' scheme, Mr Tang said it will help boost tourism, employment and the economy.
City of Life
August 29th, 2003, 05:52 PM
GDP growth forecast rises to 2%
The forecast growth rate in real terms of GDP for this year has been revised to 2%, up from 1.5% in the May update. This is due to the GDP outturn in the second quarter being higher than earlier thought, and taking into consideration the current pace of Hong Kong's economic upturn. On the price front, local costs and prices are expected to remain generally subdued in the coming months, so the Composite CPI forecast rate has been revised down, to -3%, from -2.5% in the May round.
Announcing second-quarter economic details and forecasts for the year, Government Economist Tang Kwong-yiu said SARS hit Hong Kong's economy hard. It caused second-quarter GDP to slacken off, resulting in a 0.5% decline in real terms over a year earlier. That follows the first quarter's solid growth of 4.5%. On a seasonally adjusted quarter-to-quarter comparison, GDP fell visibly, by 3.7% in real terms in the second quarter, following a 0.3% decline in the first quarter.
SARS damages tourism sector
The blow to inbound tourism and travel-related sectors was severe, particularly in April and May. Even with some relative improvement in June, exports of services for the second quarter still plummeted by 14.7% in real terms over a year earlier, down markedly from the 12.6% increase in the first quarter. While offshore trade continued to grow, it rendered only a partial offset.
Local consumer spending likewise fell distinctly in April, yet went up steadily in May and June as the SARS threat receded. For the second quarter, private consumption expenditure fell 2.2% in real terms over a year earlier, down slightly from the 2% decline in the first quarter. The setback was concentrated in residents' spending abroad, as local people avoided visits to SARS-affected places. Investment spending slackened considerably, to a 5.3% decline in real terms in the second quarter over a year earlier. That was in contrast to a 3.5% increase in the first quarter.
Building and construction output saw an enlarged decline amid a weak property market, while machinery and equipment intake also moderated markedly as business conditions faltered.
Exports sustain double-digit growth
Nevertheless, Mr Tang said total exports of goods were relatively unaffected by SARS, sustaining double-digit growth all through the second quarter. After a 19.1% surge in real terms in the first quarter over a year earlier, there was a further leap of 14.3% in the second quarter. The robust external trade gave the economy a cushion against the setback in the domestic sector. As the fuller impact of SARS on the labour market set in, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose markedly from 7.5% in the first quarter to 8.6% in the second quarter, and to a new high of 8.7% in the three months ending July.
Underemployment at 4.2%
The underemployment rate likewise rose, from 2.9% to 4.3% between these two quarters, but edged down to 4.2% in the three months ending July. Overall economic activity began to bottom out towards the end of May, and has improved in June, July and August. The improvement is most visible in inbound tourism and the travel-related sectors, as visitor arrivals, being bolstered in particular by the swift return of Mainland visitors, are recovering fast. Local consumer sentiment has also been rising, with strong promotions by the affected trades and a Government relaunch campaign encouraging consumer spending.
Economy to pick up, with a sharp upturn in tourism
Mr Tang expected the economy to continue to pick up over the rest of the year. In the external sector, service exports are expected to be vibrant. Inbound tourism looks set for a sharp upturn, particularly with the added boost from the launch of the "individual visit" scheme for Mainland visitors to Hong Kong. Offshore trade is likely to remain brisk, supported by strong trade flow in the Mainland and a generally improved global economic environment.
Exports of goods are also expected to advance further, albeit with the growth rate probably not as high as in the earlier months as the base of comparison shifts higher for the latter part of the year. A continued robust external sector performance should in turn bring about beneficial spill-overs to the local economy.
In the domestic sector, with sentiment reviving after SARS, consumer spending seems likely to recover further in the second half of the year. On the other hand, investment spending may remain slack until demand picks up more to underpin the overall business conditions.
Terrorist attacks cast shadow on global scene
There could be more upside potential if the growth momentum in exports of goods and offshore trade remains just as strong through the latter part of the year, and if inbound tourism surges even more. On the other hand, the recent resurgence of geo-political tension and terrorist attacks in some places again casts a shadow on the global scene.
Local retailers and service providers are likely to continue to exercise restraint on prices while overall demand in the economy is yet to return fully to normal. Wages and rentals are likely to come down further, as SARS impact has exacerbated the slack conditions in the labour and property markets. These factors, combined with Government relief measures, will outweigh the effect of higher prices of retained imports brought about by the earlier weakening in the US dollar and the rise in world commodity prices.
City of Life
August 29th, 2003, 05:56 PM
Helicopter crash investigators arrive
Two French aviation experts have arrived in Hong Kong to assist in the investigation of the August 26 crash of a Government Flying Service helicopter on Lantau Island.
Acting Director-General of Civil Aviation Norman Lo said the investigation will be conducted in a more efficient and thorough manner with the participation of investigators from outside.
"During the course of our investigation, we may solicit further assistance from other sources and invite other aviation experts to participate in the investigation if the need arises," he said.
The two French experts are Accredited Representative of the French Government Bernard Boudaille, and Flight Safety Engineer Michel Laurent from the aircraft's manufacturer, Eurocopter. They will join the team investigating the causes of the accident and will visit the crash site at Pak Kung Au tomorrow morning. An Inspector's Investigation notice was published in the Government Gazette today. Anyone who wants to make representations as to the circumstances or causes of the accident should contact the Chief Inspector of Accidents by fax at 2501 0640 or by telephone at 2867 4203.
Procurement conforms to tendering procedures
In response to media query, the Security Bureau points out that the procurement of Eurocopter EC155 B1 helicopters was done in accordance with the Government's established tendering procedures. The procurement was carried out through a worldwide tendering exercise consistent with the World Trade Organisation government procurement agreement.
The EC155 B1 helicopters are the most modern and advanced amongst similar types, the bureau said.
City of Life
August 29th, 2003, 06:03 PM
Central Gov't backs HK-PRD economic ties
Friendly neighbours: Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa says Hong Kong and Guangdong are working closely together to make the Pearl River Delta the most vibrant economic zone in the world.
The Central Government has attached great importance to bolstering Hong Kong-Guangdong economic ties and supports our economic development, the Chief Executive says. Officiating at the Shenzhen Western Corridor foundation-stone laying ceremony in Shenzhen today, Tung Chee Hwa said Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan's presence at the ceremony has fully demonstrated the Central Government's support.
New road link beneficial to HK and Guangdong
Mr Tung said he was grateful that Mr Zeng had flown from Beijing to officiate at the ceremony. Mr Zeng said the State Council appointed him to partake in the event in support of the two jurisdictions' co-operation, adding that the early and speedy construction of the new road link will be mutually beneficial to both Hong Kong and Guangdong.
Mr Tung said the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement and the Sixth Plenary of the HK/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference have helped strengthen the two cities' relationship.
The Western Corridor - HK's largest road crossing
The new fourth boundary crossing will connect Shekou in Shenzhen and the western part of Hong Kong. Opening to traffic in 2005, it will have a capacity of about 80,000 vehicles daily, the largest road crossing in Hong Kong. Together with the existing three road crossings, which can cater to 42,000 vehicles a day, the total cross-boundary road traffic capacity will increase to 122,000 vehicles daily.
Apart from the new road link, Hong Kong and Guangdong will also pursue the proposed Shenzhen Tonggu Waterway, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.
HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge group to meet
Mr Tung said the projects aim to make the Pearl River Delta region the most vibrant and competitive economic zone in the world in 10 to 20 years. They will also be conducive to logistics and tourism. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Advance Work Co-ordination Group will meet tomorrow to discuss how to expedite the implementation of this mutually beneficial infrastructure project.
Speaking after returning from Shenzhen, Mr Tung said he talked to Vice Premier Zeng on a number of issues, including Hong Kong's economic development. Mr Tung said that Mr Zeng is optimistic about Hong Kong's future as he believes we will benefit from the strong economic development on the Mainland and in the US. Mr Tung also said Mainland authorities fully support a range of cross-boundary infrastructure projects, including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
Mr Zeng told Mr Tung that the Central Government will give its backing to the construction of an express railway between Hong Kong and Guangdong if both places agree there is a need to build it.http://www.hktrader.net/img/westcorridor200309-700.jpg
City of Life
August 29th, 2003, 06:09 PM
Confidence in HK's future rises: survey
Public confidence in Hong Kong's future has shown marked improvement, according to findings of the latest public opinion poll the Home Affairs Bureau conducted August 4-8, released today.
The survey found that the percentage of respondents who expected Hong Kong's situation would improve in the coming 12 months has risen to 26% (up from 18% in May), while the percentage that thought otherwise has decreased considerably by 16 percentage points (from 36% to 20%). It also found that 46% of the respondents were confident that Hong Kong would continue to be prosperous and stable, up from the corresponding figure of 42% in the previous survey.
Economic improvements buoy spirits
The Home Affairs Bureau is pleased to note that the community is becoming more positive about the future of Hong Kong. This could mainly be attributable to confidence in improvement in Hong Kong's economic situation. With enhanced co-operation with the Pearl River Delta, the signing of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, the increasing number of Mainland residents visiting Hong Kong in their personal capacities as well as the gradual return of long-haul international travellers, Hong Kong's economy is on the verge of recovery.
Majority pleased with own present condition
More than half (59%) of respondents were satisfied with their own present condition while 21% of the respondents were satisfied with Hong Kong's present situation. The corresponding figures in the May survey were 60% and 22%.
It also found that 28% respondents were satisfied with the Government's overall performance, though 59% took the opposite view.:no:
People still fear losing their jobs
According to the survey findings, "labour-related problems" has overtaken "economy-related problems" to become the issue of most concern, with 49% of respondents citing them. The figure was up from 42% in the previous survey.
Economy-related problems, ranked second, were mentioned by 41% per cent of respondents. The corresponding figure in May was 46%.
Governance of Hong Kong ranked third, though the concern was mentioned by only 14%, compared with 22% in the previous survey.
The survey was the 105th in the series. A total of 1,473 respondents, aged between 15 and 64, were successfully interviewed over the phone. They were chosen at random through the residential telephone directory.
August 31st, 2003, 05:57 PM
ÅÅÅÅÅ Jæven Hårrån!!!, de va litt my da 7hø å lesa!!!
Æ årshki't å lesa nå tå de!!!
City of Life
September 1st, 2003, 12:48 PM
Originally posted by Christian
ÅÅÅÅÅ Jæven Hårrån!!!, de va litt my da 7hø å lesa!!!
Æ årshki't å lesa nå tå de!!!
Hello Christian! I can't read your reply! Can you please type in English?:D )
City of Life
September 2nd, 2003, 09:29 AM
An exciting Mid-Autumn month ahead!
Pyrotechnic parade: The annual Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is one of the highlights of the Mid-Autumn celebrations to be staged this month.
To celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, a month-long jamboree has been organised by the HK Tourism Board. It will feature a host of lantern-themed attractions that will entice both locals and tourists. This year, the board is combining the traditions of the Mid-Autumn Festival with a diversity of spectacular events and attractions to demonstrate Hong Kong's fusion of Eastern and Western cultures.
The programme will include activities organised by the Leisure & Cultural Services Department. The biggest celebration will be staged in Victoria Park from September 7 to 16 when Lantern Wonderland will occupy an entire football pitch.An application has already been filed with Guinness World Records for recognising what could turn out to be the world's largest lantern, which is chosen from entries in a competition organised by the board and the Designers' Association. Alongside Lantern Wonderland there will be a lantern designed in the image of Sleeping Beauty's castle. There will also be lanterns featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
The Mid-Autumn Lantern Celebration Carnival will climax the festive period between September 11 and 14.
One of the highlights will be the annual Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance. This year, the 66-metre Fire Dragon created from thousands of burning joss-sticks will, for the first time, dance in Victoria Park for three consecutive nights on September 10 to 12.
Announcing details of the celebration, board chairman Selina Chow said the spectacular will cater to tourist demand.
"We know from surveys that close to 30% of our visitors and 40% of those from long-haul markets are interested in traditional Chinese festivals," she said. The celebration also builds on Hong Kong's strengths as a destination for dining, shopping, entertainment and scenery. The board is strongly encouraging the travel trade to package the programmes together with special tours.
Twenty restaurants have introduced special Mid-Autumn Festival menus and offers while key dining locations such as Knutsford Terrace, Hillwood Road, SoHo, Lan Kwai Fong and the Peak have erected festive decorations.
City of Life
September 2nd, 2003, 10:03 AM
HK's new horizon in the China Market
On June 29, 2003, Hong Kong and Mainland China signed a historic trade agreement, which presages freer trade and closer economic co-operation.
The Closer Economic Partnership Agreement provides for greater and earlier liberalisation in a number of areas.
Exports in about 270 Mainland product codes of goods of Hong Kong origin, covering about 90% by value of Hong Kong’s exports to the Mainland, will enjoy zero-tariff treatment from January 1, 2004, while goods in other product codes meeting the origin criteria will be able to do so from January 1, 2006. These include electrical and electronic products, plastic articles, paper articles, textiles and clothing, chemical products, pharmaceutical products, clocks and watches, jewellery, cosmetics and metal products.
A range of services provided by Hong Kong companies in 17 service sectors will enjoy earlier liberalised access to the Mainland market from January, 2004. These include accounting, advertising, audiovisual, banking, convention, distribution, insurance, legal, logistical, management consulting, medical and dental, real estate and construction, securities and tourism services.
Both sides agree to promote co-operation and facilitation in the following areas:
* Custom clearance
* Quarantine and inspection, quality assurance and food safety
* Small and medium-sized enterprises
* Chinese medicine and medical products
* Trade and investment promotion
* Transparency in law and regulations.
Although the initial list of goods contains about 270 product codes, no product is automatically ‘carved out’. Both sides have also agreed to pursue further liberalisation in services.
To qualify for CEPA treatment, goods must satisfy certain “origin rules”, which are likely to take into account such factors as specified processes, change of tariff content and local content. These rules are to be finalised by both sides before the end of 2003. Care has been taken not to exclude foreign companies under the definition of Hong Kong companies. The definition has no regard to nationality, ownership or shareholding structure. However, care has also been taken to avoid CEPA being used as the ‘backdoor’ to bypass China’s WTO concessions. To qualify a company must have substantive business operations in Hong Kong on the basis of:
* its incorporation under the laws of Hong Kong;
* its payment of Hong Kong profits tax or legal exemption therefrom;
* its length of substantive operations in Hong Kong;
* its scope and nature of business; and
* the proportion of staff employed in Hong Kong.
There are some variations as regards different service sectors. The definition would exclude representative offices or branches of companies not incorporated in Hong Kong as well as ‘shell’ or ‘post-box’ companies.
Selected sectoral features
As regards distribution services, Hong Kong enterprises are permitted to supply commission agents’ services and wholesale trade services in the Mainland on a wholly-owned basis without any geographic restrictions.
Hong Kong investors are permitted to establish wholly-owned retail commercial enterprises in the Mainland, including the sale of motor vehicles (up to 30 chain outlets).
Hong Kong permanent residents with Chinese citizenship are permitted to set up in Guangdong individually-owned retail stores, not exceeding 300 square metres in area, without prior approval applicable to foreign investments.
As regards tourism, the Mainland will allow residents in Guangdong to visit Hong Kong as individuals. This is to be implemented on a trial basis first in Dongguan, Zhongshan and Jiangmen, to be extended to the whole province not later than July 1, 2004. The two sides will also strengthen co-operation in tourism promotion, including programmes centred around the Pearl River Delta.
As regards audiovisual services, Hong Kong companies are permitted to establish in the Mainland joint ventures with majority ownership, up to 70%, to engage in the distribution of audiovisual products, including motion pictures.
Chinese language motion picture products by Hong Kong companies are permitted to be imported for distribution in the Mainland without any quota restrictions after approval by the relevant Mainland authorities. Motion pictures produced jointly by Hong Kong and the Mainland are to be treated as Mainland movies for distribution in the Mainland. Hong Kong companies are also permitted to construct and/or renovate cinema theatres on a joint venture or co-operation basis, and majority ownership by Hong Kong companies is allowed.
As regards financial services, the Mainland has agreed:
* to support state-owned commercial banks and certain shareholding commercial banks in relocating their international treasury and foreign-exchange trading centres to Hong Kong;
* the development of network and business activities in Hong Kong through acquisition; * the full utilisation of financial intermediaries in Hong Kong during the process of reform, re-structuring and development of the financial sector in the Mainland; and
* the listing of Mainland insurance and other companies in Hong Kong.
As regards banking services, the asset requirement for both Hong Kong banks and finance companies wishing to enter the Mainland market is reduced to US$6 billion. Banks can choose to set up branches or body corporates, while finance companies can only set up the latter. The requirement for conducting renminbi business by Mainland branches of Hong Kong banks is lowered as follows:
* the minimum requirement of prior business operation in the Mainland is reduced from three years to two years; and
* profitability assessment is made on the basis of the overall position of all branches instead of individual branches.
As for insurance services, groups formed by Hong Kong insurance companies through strategic mergers are permitted to enter the Mainland insurance market subject to established market access conditions.
The average import tariff of existing Hong Kong domestic exports of goods to the Mainland is about 11%, but some are currently subject to higher tariffs such as jewellery (35%), micro-motors for toys (24.5%) and clocks and watches (23%). Given the substantial cost differentials between the Mainland and Hong Kong, CEPA is unlikely to result in relocation of the majority of manufacturing processes from the Mainland to Hong Kong. Nor is it going to work magic in boosting Hong Kong’s employment. It would, nevertheless, be attractive to manufacture in Hong Kong those higher tariff products as well as those with higher value-added or substantial intellectual property input, for example, high-end brand names.
On the services front, however, while CEPA is unlikely to dramatically transform the Hong Kong economy overnight, the liberalisation framework should provide a new dynamic platform with which to gain easier and earlier access to the relevant sectors in the fast growing Mainland market, both for Hong Kong companies and foreign partners alike.
The vastness and dynamism of this market can be only partially glimpsed in consideration of the following ‘mega trends’. China has become the factory of the world, accounting for half the world’s cameras and photocopiers, a third of the world’s air-conditioners and a quarter of the world’s refrigerators. It has overtaken Japan as the second global electronics manufacturing superpower with an IT hardware output rising to US$35 billion this year, riding increasingly on the synergy created with Taiwanese electronics investments.
China has already overtaken France as the world’s fourth-largest manufacturing exporter. Much of this manufacturing is in the Pearl River Delta where Hong Kong is involved in the management and operation of about 90% of the factories with 11 million workers, and accounts for 70% of the foreign direct investment as well as 70% of the exports of goods.
A fast growing critical mass of ‘middle-class’ consumers has sprung up in the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta (including Shanghai and its neighbouring provinces) as well as the coastal areas. Though only about one-sixth of China’s population, it already comprises over 200 million people, whose lifestyle and consumer habits have become more urbanised and Westernised.
This is evident from the inroads of Starbucks, Ikea furniture, chain stores like Carrefour and B & Q, and the recent dramatic growth of demand for private cars, which is supported by the expansion of motorways from about 500 kilometres 12 years ago to about 25,000 kilometres now.
Hong Kong businesses and operatives are heavily involved in this growing consumer market, estimated at over US$560 billion and growing at 10% a year.
China infrastructure projects open up opportunities
A number of gigantic infrastructural projects have been launched in China, including the Three Gorges Dam, the Water Diversion Project linking the Yangtze with the Yellow River, the gas and electricity pipe-lines linking the west with the eastern region, and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. Coupled with the infrastructural requirements of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 a great deal of business opportunities will be created for international input in terms of technical, engineering, management, financial and other expertise. Hong Kong, as an international business hub, is well poised to leverage them.
As China is increasingly linked with the global economy following its entry into the WTO, its outward investment has been growing in such sectors as energy, minerals and retailing. Again, Hong Kong as a leading financial centre is well placed to take advantage of this development.
With new political imperatives to build an all-rounded ‘well-off’ society for the people, China is addressing its many challenges including the problems of state-owned enterprises, non-performing loans, the need for financial reforms, corporate governance, fighting corruption, developmental polarisation and the need for sustained rapid economic growth to absorb unemployment. The above mega trends are solid grounds for optimism.
Indeed, as an increasing number of Asian neighbours, including Asean, South Korea and Japan, are either actively pursuing or considering the establishment of free trade agreements with a rapidly growing China, CEPA is likely to provide them with food for thought in similar bilateral discussions. It is at least conceivable that, in due course, the door would be open to a pan-Asia free trade framework in which China would play a leading role.
Hong Kong has long been playing a vital part in the development of the China market, accounting for 47% of the total foreign direct investment and about 90% of the total syndicated loans for the whole of Mainland China. Notwithstanding Hong Kong’s own many challenges, CEPA as a new and powerful springboard will unfold new dynamic business horizons.
We are likely to see increasing business interests from both local and multinational companies, in seeking to take advantage of CEPA-qualified Hong Kong operations, either through acquisition or expansion, to gain a stronger foothold in the Mainland market. We are also likely to see Hong Kong’s spirit of enterprise helping towards the formation more strategic business alliances in this exciting growth market of the 21st century.
City of Life
September 4th, 2003, 02:44 PM
Economy to recover further: Henry Tang
Hong Kong's economy will likely recover further later in the year, Financial Secretary Henry Tang says.
Speaking after chairing his first Task Force on Employment meeting today, Mr Tang said with SARS under control, a steady pick-up is being observed in inbound tourism and related sectors, as well as in consumer spending. With enhanced co-operation with the Pearl River Delta, the conclusion of CEPA, the expansion of the programme to allow residents of more Mainland cities to visit Hong Kong individually, as well as the gradual return of long-haul international travellers, Hong Kong's economic situation is likely to improve, he said.
On the current pace of upturn, the forecast growth rate in real terms of GDP for 2003 has been revised upward from 1.5% to 2%, he said, adding that the continual improvement in the economic situation will have a positive effect on employment. Mr Tang said that as an indicator of an improving labour market, there was a 60% increase in the number of vacancies recorded at Labour Department Job Centres in July over the previous month.
More important, he said, the bulk of the new vacancies were from the private sector.
He said it is encouraging to note that for August, the number of new vacancies from the private sector registered with the Labour Department not only continued on an upward trend, but also represented the largest monthly figure ever recorded by the department.
Altogether, some 24,600 private sector vacancies were captured in August against 21,700 in July. Compared to the usual daily average of 600 to 800 vacancies received by the department, the figure increased considerably to 1,000 in August.
Furthermore, many of the newly received vacancies were from new employers, in particular small and medium sized enterprises. This reflected the growing recruitment needs of employers, along with the revival in economic activities, Mr Tang said.
City of Life
September 4th, 2003, 02:52 PM
HK gets ready to rock!
Get ready to rock!: InvestHK's Director-General of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse joins other guests to announce the details of HK Harbour Fest.
The world's biggest names in pop music will strut their stuff along Hong Kong's scenic harbour front over the next two months, including rock legends the Rolling Stones.
HK Harbour Fest will be held at Admiralty's Tamar site over four weekends from October 17 to November 9. A huge outdoor concert stage will be erected and over 200,000 tickets will be available for the entire event with reserved seating for up to 13,000 people per show. The spectacular will feature a dazzling series of live shows catering to all tastes and ages, encompassing rock n' roll, family entertainment, blues and jazz, classical, theatrical performances and a Vegas Night. Along with headliners the Rolling Stones, an unprecedented mix of international and Asian artists will perform, including Latin-rock guitar maestro Santana, boy band Westlife, British R&B star Craig David, Taiwan's F4 and Jay Chou, plus Hong Kong's own Andy Hui. The shows will be televised and beamed to the US, Europe, Asia and other locations.
The programme is expected to draw 100 million television viewers in the US alone, where audiences will see celebrated artists enjoying the fabulous sights and sounds that Hong Kong has on offer. The world will see their favourite stars playing against the dramatic backdrop of the Hong Kong skyline. The show has been organised by the American Chamber of Commerce with the HK Government. AmCham Chairman James Thompson said: "We want the world to know the business community and the people of Hong Kong are working hand in hand to rebuild the exciting spirit of our city. "Nothing does this better than an international music festival such as HK Harbour Fest. I'm very proud of the large number of AmCham companies that have agreed to contribute their creative talents to this endeavour. We feel the benefits to Hong Kong will be tremendous."
It is hoped HK Harbour Fest will become an annual event to build up Hong Kong as Asia's entertainment capital. A full list of the artists, schedule and ticket information will be released in the coming week.
Visit the festival's website at http://www.hkharbourfest.com
City of Life
September 4th, 2003, 04:00 PM
Central project to preserve our natural heritage
The Central reclamation will provide land for key transport infrastructure to relieve traffic congestion and allow people enjoy our natural wonder - Victoria Harbour. This is the message from Director of Territory Development Wong Hung-kin who says the public generally supports the proposal. "We fully share sentiments for preserving Victoria Harbour. But the important point is there is a genuine urgency attached to the project which will provide land for both strategic infrastructure and recreational open space, serving the community and tourists alike," Mr Wong exclusively told news.gov.hk.
Heritage preserved: Proposed reclamation works in Central will provide 18 hectares of land for both strategic infrastructure and recreational open space, giving the public convenient access to our natural wonder - Victoria Harbour. One of the key features is the reprovisioned Star Ferry Pier which will adopt its 1912 design to add a little history to the waterfront promenade.
Hong Kong's history begins with Victoria Harbour, which has served many different roles. In the past, it was a deep-water port for trade and supported our sizeable fishing community. Now it has become a vibrant tourist attraction. However, the existing waterfront north of Hong Kong Island has been occupied by developments and waterfront facilities that restrict, if not totally deprive, the public of access.
Providing convenient harbour access
Mr Wong said: "When we talk about the harbour as a public asset, we want people to have convenient access to it and enjoy it.
"Because the harbour is valuable to us, we need to have the vision to perceive what is best for Hong Kong on the whole and look at the proposal objectively, in light of the benefits it will bring to Hong Kong. "One of the things the proposed reclamation can achieve is to give the harbour back to Hong Kong people." Under the Central Reclamation Phase III project, a world-class waterfront promenade will be built so people can stroll along the harbour front and enjoy the scenery.
An oasis in a dense concrete jungle
Additional open space will be provided to meet shortfalls and serve as an oasis to the large population in Central and Wan Chai who have hitherto been bounded within a dense concrete jungle. "The harbour front will have a classic touch, with the reconstruction of the Star Ferry Pier using a historical heritage approach similar to the 1912 design. It will become another landmark for which Hong Kong will be remembered," Mr Wong said.
On the transport front, traffic jams occur regularly along the northshore corridor during peak hours, with the volume to capacity ratio at Gloucester Road and Harcourt Road at about 1.1.
It is expected that the ratio on the most critical section of Gloucester Road during peak hours will exceed 1.4 in 2011.
New link needed to improve traffic flow
Mr Wong said: "To relieve traffic congestion, the only feasible and environmentally acceptable way is to construct the four-km long Central-Wan Chai Bypass through reclamation, and enhance the existing road network." The new link will connect the Rumsey Street Flyover with the Island Eastern Corridor via the Island Eastern Corridor Link. The reclaimed land will also offer MTR opportunities to extend the Hong Kong Station overrun tunnel. This will help improve operation efficiency of the Tung Chung and Airport Express Lines.
Extent of reclamation kept to a minimum
Central Reclamation Phase III is the final phase. It requires minimum reclamation - only 18 hectares - for essential transport infrastructure, and the area will be developed into a world-class waterfront. A stringent environmental monitoring and audit programme regarding air quality, noise monitoring, water quality and waste management will be implemented to minimise environmental impact during construction.
City of Life
September 4th, 2003, 04:28 PM
New banknotes to be issued from Dec
The Monetary Authority and the three note-issuing banks today unveiled a series of Hong Kong banknotes. The new notes consist of five denominations. The two denominations unveiled today, $100 and $500, will be put into circulation in December.
The other three denominations, $20, $50 and $1,000, will go into circulation in the second half of 2004. The authority will co-ordinate the issue of the first batch of new notes on the same day.
http://www.news.gov.hk/tc/category/businessandfinance/030903/html/030903p044jpg.jpg http://www.news.gov.hk/tc/category/businessandfinance/030903/html/030903p042jpg.jpg http://www.news.gov.hk/tc/category/businessandfinance/030903/html/030903p041jpg.jpg
Security noted: Monetary Authority Chief Executive Joseph Yam highlights the enhanced security features of new banknotes to be issued from December, while representatives of note-issuing banks - HSBC's Paul Thirston, Bank of China's He Guangbei and Standard Chartered's Peter Wong - brief the media on the new designs.
Authority Chief Executive Joseph Yam said printing costs will be about $350 million. Although the per-note cost has been lowered to about 60 cents, they are more durable than existing ones.
Security features standardised
An important feature of the new banknotes is the standardisation of security features and, in particular, their location on the notes.
Mr Yam said thanks to the good work of the Police, the number of forged Hong Kong banknotes found is small, far less than what is found internationally. For example, only 4,000 forged banknotes in two denominations - $500 and $100 - were found in the first six months of 2003, meaning that only one is found in every 25,000 notes.Noting the poor quality of the forgeries, he believed there will not be a big increase of fakes when the new banknotes are issued. However, he reminded the public to be careful to avoid fakes.
Mr Yam said current banknotes have been in circulation for more than a decade and it is necessary to redesign them to incorporate the latest available security features. "A banknote should be pleasing to the eye, should say something about the community that uses it, and above all should be difficult to forge if it is to maintain public confidence," he said. All of these factors have been taken into account in the new banknotes' design.
Anti-counterfeiting features enhanced
A number of advanced security features have been added to the new banknotes to help prevent counterfeiters from copying them. They are:
* Denomination numerals in optical variable ink (the colour of the denomination numeral shifts between gold and green when the banknote is viewed at different angles);
* Fluorescent machine-readable barcode (visible under ultraviolet light);
* Holographic windowed thread (a 4mm-wide security thread with holographic images woven into the paper); and,
* Iridescent images (shimmering image showing bauhinia flowers when the banknote is tilted under a bright light).
The new banknotes also retain security features used in existing banknotes, including concealed image/denomination, intaglio printing, invisible fluorescent fibres, multitone and highlight watermarks, security threads, see-through features and serial numbers. All new banknotes are made by HK Note Printing. The design is the responsibility of the individual note-issuing banks, subject to the Financial Secretary's approval. The $100 and $500 banknotes retain the colour schemes of the current series, principally red and brown, respectively.
Varied designs for new banknotes
The three banks are Bank of China (Hong Kong), the Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC, whose banknote issuing rates are 25%, 13% and 62%, respectively. Bank of China (HK) Chief Executive He Guangbei said this is the first series of its banknotes issued under the name of 'Bank of China (HK)', which has been adopted since the restructuring and merger of the former Bank of China Group in Hong Kong on October 1, 2001. Bank of China's banknote series vividly depicts the development of Hong Kong as a modern city, and features a kaleidoscope of images reflecting Hong Kong's stability and prosperity.
The design of the new Standard Chartered notes pays homage to its long history in Hong Kong by depicting the changing faces of the Peak and Victoria Harbour over the years, the Bank's Director and CEO Peter Wong said.
HSBC's Assistant General Manager and Head of Personal Financial Services Paul Thurston said its new series reflects the unique culture and character of Hong Kong, as well as Chinese patterns symbolising luck and prosperity. All existing notes will continue to circulate and will be gradually withdrawn when they become physically unfit for circulation.
New FS to sign $10 banknotes
While noting the controversy over the existing $10 banknotes, the authority has no plan to discontinue its use as it embodies the most counterfeiting features among similar denominations in the world. About 487 million of them are in circulation, reflecting its good reception by the community. When the existing stock is finished, he added, the new Financial Secretary's autograph will be adopted on the reprints.
A leaflet explaining and illustrating the new security features is available from the three note-issuing banks and the authority.
Information is also available on the authority's website:
City of Life
September 5th, 2003, 08:04 PM
New cultural icon to reap economic benefits
The West Kowloon Cultural District project will bring substantial, long-term economic benefits, and provide about 6,000 jobs in the short term, Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang says. Construction works are expected to start by April 2006 and the facilities will be completed in phases between 2010 and 2012.
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New icon: Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang says the West Kowloon Cultural District will attract world-renowned performers, and the magnificent, flowing canopy sheltering the site will become a new Hong Kong icon.
According to the cultural district's concept planner Norman Foster, the plan itself will require an investment of some $24 billion. Mr Tsang expected that this will help boost economic activities and create more jobs for the construction sector and professionals.
He also said the cultural district is part of our positioning as Asia's world city. We want Hong Kong to be the most vibrant hub for culture, arts and entertainment in the region, he said. When completed, contemporary facilities will provide residents and visitors with a range of cultural and leisure pursuits.
"Our local artists will also have a creative hive in which to further develop their talent," he said. "The magnificent, flowing canopy sheltering the development area will become a new Hong Kong icon."
New cultural icon a magnet for world-renowned performers
He highlighted that cultural and commercial facilities on the site will not only draw more tourists to Hong Kong. They will also help attract more world-renowned performers and add to our attraction as the most cosmopolitan and dynamic international business centre in Asia. Mr Tsang also announced that, for the first time, the Government is inviting the private sector to finance and construct this major arts and cultural project. He said the move is in line with the Government's philosophy of "small government".
Private-sector involvement demonstrates 'small gov't' principle
"We believe that the private sector will be able to run these facilities more cost effectively, and will also enjoy greater flexibility to finance and develop them," Mr Tsang said. "We are confident that the private sector will be interested in the project if it is offered as a commercial package that provides enough flexibility to produce a workable scheme."
The world-class future development envisages:
* performance venues, museums and some residential development in a cultural headland at the western end of the site;
* a multi-level complex of entertainment and retail facilities in the middle of the site;
* a commercial gateway at Canton Road with highrise developments;
* extensive open space for public use comprising a podium park, landscaped terraces and a waterfront promenade;
* an automated people mover running from one end of the site to the other; and
* a spectacular canopy.
Mr Tsang explained that the above list, the "Government's baseline", is intended as a starting point for proponents.
Flexibility allowed in project design
The parameters are not fixed, he stressed. Those who would like to put forward a design may propose a higher development density or a different mix if they provide acceptable justification and do not compromise the character of the baseline scheme. "This provides proponents with flexibility in the design of the main revenue-producing parts of the project, while the canopy limits the intensity of development that can be proposed." He also stressed that the Government will not allow the cultural facilities to play second fiddle, though property development is essential to the project's viability. There are certain mandatory requirements.
Close monitoring to ensure the highest standard
Apart from the canopy, these include the provision of the following core arts and cultural facilities:
* a complex of three theatres with seating capacities of at least 2,000, 800 and 400 seats;
* a performance venue with a seating capacity of at least 10,000 seats;
* a museum cluster comprising four museums of differing themes with total net operating floor area of at least 75,000 square metres;
* an art exhibition centre with net operating floor area of at least 10,000 square metres; and
* a water amphitheatre and at least four piazza areas.
Potential developers may propose additional arts and cultural facilities.
Mr Tsang said: "We are particularly keen that these core facilities should be architecturally distinguished. We will monitor their operation to ensure that they maintain the highest standard."
He also believed that residential developments within the cultural district will not have an impact on the property market, as only some 500 flats will be built.
Deadline for proposals: March 19, 2004
Development proposals have to cover the planning, design, financing, construction, operation, maintenance, management, marketing and promotion of the new district. The deadline for proposals is March 19, 2004.
The proposals will be assessed in accordance with the criteria set out in the invitation document. A process of short-listing and negotiation will precede the Chief Executive in Council's selection of the successful developer.
"We envisage entering into a provisional agreement, and subsequently a project agreement, with the successful proponent, on the basis of arrangements that will include a 50-year land grant," the Chief Secretary said. He anticipated that the Government will take one year to assess the proposals, adding that bidders' financial situation, as well as their ability and experiences in the construction and management of cultural facilities will be considered.
Key components ready by 2010
The theatre complex, the water amphitheatre and the piazzas will come into operation by early 2010, with the performance venue and art exhibition centre ready by the end of 2010 and the museum cluster by the end of 2012. The developer can decide how to phase in the other parts of the development.
Meanwhile, the Government will spend some $440 million to upgrade transport infrastructure nearby.http://www.hplb.gov.hk/wkcd/images/no-flash_02.gif http://www.hplb.gov.hk/wkcd/eng/images/maintop2.gif
for further information, visit this website: http://www.hplb.gov.hk/wkcd/
City of Life
September 9th, 2003, 11:49 AM
HK, Guangdong bolster ties on disease control
An exercise may be held to test the effectiveness of the cross-boundary notification mechanism, and infectious disease control and prevention measures. Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau will consider the exercise in view of the increasing population flow in the region and the possibility of a SARS recurrence.
This was the consensus reached during a meeting between Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong and Guangdong Health Department Director-General Professor Yao Zhibin today. They discussed ways to further enhance strategies to prevent and control infectious disease in the region.
Communication mechanism details discussed
Building on the foundation laid by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Expert Group on the regular exchange of information on statutory notifiable infectious diseases, Dr Yeoh and Professor Yao further discussed details of the communication mechanism.
Dr Yeoh said the meeting laid a solid foundation for strengthening collaboration efforts between the two cities in infectious disease prevention.
"With increasingly frequent travel between Guangdong and Hong Kong, we must join hands in the prevention and control of infectious diseases because diseases know no physical boundary," he said.
Exchange frequency can be strengthened
Both sides agreed to maintain the frequency of reporting SARS cases on a weekly basis. For other infectious diseases, the frequency will be once a month, and on the 15th day of each month, Guangdong health authority will transmit its infectious disease information to its Hong Kong counterpart via the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Guangdong.
Upon receiving the infectious disease information, the Department of Health will conduct a preliminary analysis for sharing with its Guangdong counterparts. The communication mechanism will be reviewed regularly.
For special public health incidents, the frequency can be adjusted upon agreement by the two jurisdictions.
Attachment programmes set to enhance communication
To enhance professional communication and experience-sharing of infectious disease control and prevention among public health officers in the two jurisdictions, officers will be invited to take part in short-term attachment programmes. Subjects suggested by Hong Kong to be covered are HIV voluntary counselling and testing, field epidemiology, microbiological laboratory service, and a methadone treatment programme for HIV. Moreover, Guangdong and Hong Kong will jointly hold an annual conference on infectious disease to share professional experience.
On enhancing scientific and academic collaboration, Hong Kong initiated a collaborative research and surveillance project among HIV experts in centres for disease control and prevention in major cities in the Pearl River Delta to enhance understanding of the HIV situation.
Frequent exchanges conducive to people's well being
Dr Yeoh looked forward to more frequent exchanges with Mainland authorities. He said it will be conducive to enhancing understanding of the overall strategies in the prevention and control of communicable diseases in the two places, thus to the overall health and well being of their people.
Dr Yeoh and delegation members visited a fever ward in the Guangdong Provincial People's Hospital, and Guangdong's Centre for Disease Control & Prevention to gain first-hand experience of the operation and work of the centre.
City of Life
September 9th, 2003, 11:52 AM
Details sought on Singapore SARS report
The Department of Health is seeking more information from its Singaporean counterpart on reports that a man there has tested positive for SARS.
Hong Kong will closely monitor developments and remain on high alert, the department said, adding that surveillance and preventive measures have been kept in place. Health checks on in-coming travellers from Singapore are being enhanced at the airport and health cards are being distributed to these travellers.
The department calls on members of the public to continue to pay special attention to personal and environmental hygiene, which is important to prevent the return of SARS.
City of Life
September 10th, 2003, 10:51 AM
HK ideal springboard for Mainland IT firms
Hong Kong is the ideal springboard for Mainland IT companies planning to expand overseas.
Director-General of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse underscored this point in his welcoming address in Xiamen today for the Seminar on Information Technology & Technology Industries in Hong Kong.
"Hong Kong is a well-developed regional IT centre, which has the business infrastructure, regulatory environment and professional know-how to support Mainland technology companies 'going global'," he said.
The seminar is jointly organised by InvestHK, the Ministry of Commerce and the Commercial Office of the Economic Affairs Department in the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Kong Kong. More than 100 senior representatives and executives from leading technology companies on the Mainland attended the seminar.
Key speakers included Wang Ji-guang, Deputy Director-General, Foreign Economic Co-operation Department of the Ministry of Commerce; Richard Peng, Senior Vice President, China Development & Listing Promotion, Exchange Business Unit, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd; and Betty Fung, Cyberport Co-ordinator.
Mr Wang said the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between Hong Kong and the Mainland will provide new business opportunities. The Ministry of Commerce continues to encourage and support capable Mainland companies to fully leverage Hong Kong's numerous advantages to develop multilateral economic co-operation, he added.
City of Life
September 10th, 2003, 10:54 AM
HK port handles 7% more containers in Q2
In the second quarter, the port of Hong Kong handled 5.1 million TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units) of containers - an increase of 7% over a year earlier.
Gentle growth wave: In the second quarter, total port cargo throughput increased by 4% over a year earlier, to 51.2 million tonnes.
Full containers rose 6%, to 4.1 million TEUs, while empty containers rose by 9% to 1 million TEUs. In the same period, cargo-carrying inward containers rose by 8% to 1.9 million TEUs while outward-bound ones rose by 6% over a year earlier to 2.2 million TEUs.
On a seasonally adjusted quarter-to-quarter comparison, both inward and outward cargo-carrying container throughput fell 2% in the second quarter. Seaborne containers carrying cargo rose 5% over a year earlier to 3.1 million TEUs in the second quarter, while cargo-carrying river containers surged by 13% to 1 million TEUs.
Cargo-carrying containers bound for Hong Kong saw a 2% drop in imports from a year earlier, to 0.9 million TEUs in the second quarter. Inward transhipment soared 18% to 1 million TEUs. Cargo-carrying containers leaving Hong Kong saw a 4% drop in exports, to 1.1 million TEUs. Outward transhipment rose by 16% to 1.1 million TEUs. In the second quarter, total port cargo throughput increased by 4% over a year earlier to 51.2 million tonnes. Within this total, inward and outward port cargo were up by 2% and 8% to 31.6 million tonnes and 19.6 million tonnes, respectively.
Compared with the first quarter of 2003 on a seasonally adjusted basis, total port cargo throughput fell 6% in the second quarter of 2003. Inward and outward port cargo also fell, by 9% and 1%, respectively. Seaborne and river cargo rose by 4% over a year earlier to 36.7 million tonnes and 14.5 million tonnes, respectively, in the second quarter. Within inward port cargo, imports decreased by 4% over a year earlier to 20.5 million tonnes in the second quarter, while inward transhipment surged by 14% to 11 million tonnes.
For outward port cargo, exports (including domestic exports and re-exports) decreased by 2% over a year earlier to 8 million tonnes, while outward transhipment soared by 15% to 11.6 million tonnes. In the second quarter of 2003, the number of ocean vessel arrivals fell 4% over a year earlier to 8,700, with the total capacity decreasing by 2%, to 73.6 million net registered tonnes. River vessel arrivals decreased by 6% in number to 43,610 but increased by 9% in capacity to 20.8 million net registered tonnes over the same period.
City of Life
September 10th, 2003, 10:59 AM
HK cautious amid S'pore SARS alert: EK Yeoh
Hong Kong's health authorities are on alert and have taken preventive measures in light of the new SARS case in Singapore.
This was the message from Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong in response to reporters' queries just after his visit to the Fu Hong Society Rehabilitation Centre today. The Department of Health has contacted its Singaporean counterpart and the World Health Organisation to learn more about the background of the case.
Laboratories advised to tighten surveillance
Speaking to reporters this evening, Acting Director of Health Dr Leung Pak-yin stressed that it is an isolated case. Noting that the patient works in two laboratories, Dr Leung said the department has alerted laboratories of the Hospital Authority, and HK and Chinese Universities to tighten their surveillance and strictly observe the precautionary measures while conducting tests. "According to our Singapore counterparts, the specimen taken from the patient will be sent to the WHO for further analysis," Dr Leung said.
Dr Yeoh said it was important for Hong Kong to have direct links with overseas health authorities and the WHO in the global surveillance of infectious diseases. "We have established a mechanism for alerting each other in case there are unusual infections occurring under unusual circumstances in infectious diseases that we should be notified of," he said.
Airport health checks enhanced
As a precaution, the Government has bolstered health checks on in-coming travellers from Singapore at the airport, and stepped up the distribution of health alert cards to remind these travellers to stay vigilant. "Existing health screening measures, including health declaration and temperature screening at border control points, will remain in place. It is imperative that everybody, the community and the visitors alike, must be put on high alert," Dr Yeoh said.
Private hospitals and general practitioners alerted
The Department of Health has alerted private hospitals and general practitioners of the Singapore case, while the Hospital Authority is ready to prepare itself for any possible re-emergence of SARS. On isolation facilities, the Government had already allocated more than $400 million to provide 1,290 isolation beds for SARS patients in nine hospitals.
Dr Yeoh expects the first batch of facilities to be ready by the end of this month, and 70% will be ready by the end of next month.
Hospital Authority alert system activated
The Hospital Authority has activated its alert system in the clinical setting.
"We are now evaluating the alert mechanism to see whether any adjustment needs to be made," Dr Yeoh said. The Government and the authority have developed contingency plans and they will be tested in due course.
"In the context of the work that we are doing, I would like to assure the public that we have done all we can to better prepare ourselves for the re-emergence of SARS," Dr Yeoh said. "Certainly, we are much better prepared now than we were at the start of the previous outbreak. We should have sufficient facilities and manpower to deal with any possible outbreak. We are all on high alert."
Dr Yeoh called on people to continue good hygiene practices developed during the SARS epidemic. "I would like to remind the public that we need to continue with our vigilance. Other than the measures that we implemented, the public can also play a very active part."
Departments continue to take preventive measures
Meanwhile, in preparation for a possible comeback of SARS, Permanent Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Carrie Yau held a meeting today to urge departments concerned to continue taking preventive measures in the coming months. These include requiring students to take their temperature every day before attending school, enhancing outreach support to elderly homes by the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority, strict enforcement of temperature checking for passengers at border control points and maintaining active surveillance at clinics, schools, child care centres and elderly homes. Bureaux and departments will remain vigilant and keep in close touch with various trades and sectors to ensure the community adopts appropriate preventive measures.
Personal hygiene essential
To help prevent respiratory tract infection, people must:
* Maintain good personal hygiene, and wash hands after sneezing, coughing or cleaning the nose;
* Maintain good ventilation;
* Avoid visiting crowded places with poor ventilation;
* Consult a doctor promptly if they develop respiratory symptoms;
* Put on a mask if suffering from respiratory tract infection to reduce the chance of spreading the infection to people around them; and,
* Build up good body immunity by having a proper diet, regular exercise and adequate rest, reducing stress and avoiding smoking.
City of Life
September 12th, 2003, 06:59 PM
HK an ideal sourcing centre: TDC report
Hong Kong remains a crucial platform for sourcing China-made products, although direct sourcing of overseas buyers from the Mainland is starting to pose a challenge. These are the findings of a Trade Development Council report based on two interlocking surveys - one on 2,109 overseas importers from the US, Germany, Japan, France, Italy and the UK, and the other on 187 overseas buying agents in Hong Kong.
HK suppliers 'competitive'
Over 90% of respondents consider Hong Kong suppliers competitive or very competitive compared with Mainland suppliers in terms of design capabilities, product quality, responsiveness, customer services and delivery.
Overseas importers regard good English standards, good telecommunications and transportation facilities, professionalism in conducting international trade, proximity to the Mainland/production base, good legal protection, among the most significant advantages of Hong Kong as a sourcing centre. This is followed by our position as a free port, our concentration of suppliers with a wide range of products, low taxes, operation costs, good financial facilities, and Hong Kong being a centre for trade fairs and exhibitions.
To overseas buying agents based in Hong Kong, the city's competitive edge as a sourcing centre lies mainly in its vigorous service sector, which backs up their sourcing activities in the region.
Most buying agents said they conducted financial control, accounting and auditing, business negotiation/liaison, banking and financial services, insurance, marketing and sales in Hong Kong as they believe we have an edge over Mainland cities. In contrast, production-related activities are more likely undertaken on the Mainland, such as transportation and logistics, and quality control/testing/inspection.
HK cos. should boost value-added services
The council's Assistant Chief Economist Dickson Ho said: "In face of the challenge, it is the overall attractiveness of Hong Kong and its suppliers, which matter in maintaining the city's 'premium' as a sourcing centre.
"For Hong Kong as a whole, maintaining excellent 'hardware' and 'software' infrastructure could give overseas buyers greater confidence and convenience in sourcing from Hong Kong. For Hong Kong companies, it is vital to step up their capability in the provision of value-added services, in addition to better supply chain management."
Hong Kong was the world's 11th largest exporter last year. In the first half of 2003, our total exports rose 13.5% to $959,395 million.
City of Life
September 12th, 2003, 07:01 PM
Gov't may raise debt for works projects: FS
Boys in blue: Financial Secretary Henry Tang (right) and Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology John Tsang (centre) meet with European Union Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy in Cancun, Mexico to lobby for further trade liberalisation.
Financial Secretary Henry Tang said in Mexico that he does not agree in principle to financing the fiscal deficit through issuing bonds. However, he does not rule out the possibility of raising debt for infrastructure projects in the short term.
Responding to press enquiries today, Mr Tang said the Government will consider issuing bonds against existing infrastructure projects, such as tunnels and bridges. Projects in the coming five years, which will amount to some $100 billion, will also be taken into account so as to raise funds for their construction.
On issuing bonds, he said the Government will see if this will facilitate better use of capital, make Hong Kong's bond market more mature, and offer citizens an investment opportunity.
City of Life
September 12th, 2003, 07:09 PM
Ticket sales start for HK Harbour Fest
Tickets for some HK Harbour Fest concerts will go on sale from September 12. They will be available for British R&B star Craig David's October 18 show, boy band Westlife's October 25 show, and Latin-rock legend Santana's November 1 show.
Organised by the American Chamber of Commerce and the HK Government, the festival will see other top international acts, including rock legends the Rolling Stones. Director-General of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse hopes it will become an annual event, attracting tourists from all corners of the globe.
"HK Harbour Fest is clear evidence Hong Kong is serious about its ambition to be Asia's world city. It will also translate into substantial, tangible economic benefits for Hong Kong businesses. The international attention it will garner is tremendous."
Sports & Entertainment Committee Vice Chairman Jon Niermann said: "I am pleased to say HK Harbour Fest has already put Hong Kong on the international music circuit.
"We have received numerous enquiries from devoted fans and fan club members of the Rolling Stones, Santana, Westlife and F4from places like the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines."
Ticket prices range from $158 to $988, and will be available through HK Ticketing outlets. Bookings can also be made through the ticket hotline on 31 288 288, or the website www.hkticketing.com.
For regular updates, please visit the www.hkharbourfest.com
City of Life
September 12th, 2003, 07:34 PM
Immunisation policy under review
Hong Kong's immunisation policy will be reviewed to see whether the elderly with financial difficulties should be offered free immunisation against influenza. In response to media enquiries, the Health, Welfare & Food Bureau said the Government will seek the views of the Advisory Committee on Immunisation in reviewing the policy.
The existing immunisation programme against flu aims to reduce the infection rate of the three most vulnerable groups: residents in elderly homes, the mentally and physically disabled in rehabilitation homes and healthcare workers.
Multi-pronged fight set to prevent SARS
Meanwhile, Government bodies are liaising with various trades and sectors to prevent a SARS resurgence.
Speaking after her visit to Fu Cheong Estate, Sham Shui Po today, Permanent Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Carrie Yau said the Tourism Commission has contacted major organisations in the trade reminding them of the importance of hygiene, cleanliness and prompt reporting of suspected cases.
The commission also asked them to draw members' attention to the importance of diligently implementing all preventive measures, such as cleaning coaches frequently and reminding tourists to practise good personal hygiene.
The Food & Environmental Hygiene Department has sent notices to all 18,000 licensees of food premises including restaurants and food processing workshops reminding them to continue good hygiene practices, such as covering all ready-to-eat food, providing communal chopsticks and implementing effective pest control measures.
Other measures include:
* The Social Welfare Department is reminding welfare institutions to adhere diligently to preventive measures;
* The Labour Department is reminding employers to keep workplaces clean and hygienic and to grant sick leave to any ill staff;
* The Transport Department is reminding public transport operators to continue frequent cleansing of compartments of their vehicles and vessels; and,
* The Home Affairs Department is advising property management companies to step up cleansing and disinfection of buildings' common areas.
Although the Singapore SARS case is isolated, it is a wake-up call to remind us of the need to sustain personal and environmental hygiene, Mrs Yau said. "We need to take a multi-pronged approach to tackle this problem. We need to continue with our vigilance as there is a possibility that SARS will come back in winter." Community effort will be needed in improving personal and environmental hygiene while the Government will also gear up its hardware and software to prepare for the outbreak of any communicable disease, Mrs Yau added.
City of Life
September 12th, 2003, 07:39 PM
Tours to showcase marine ecology
Water sports enthusiasts will soon have the opportunity to explore the natural wonders of the coastline - including coral communities, mangrove stands and sea caves - by kayak.
From November until January 2004, the four water sports centres managed by the Leisure & Cultural Services Department will offer a series of marine ecological tours and tailor-made sailing adventures.
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Wonders of nature: Water sports enthusiasts will be able to explore the natural wonders of the coastline - including mangrove stands and sea caves - by kayak.
Led by experienced instructors, the marine ecological tours will provide kayakers with the opportunity to become more familiar with the ecosystems of Hong Kong's coastline. Kayaking qualifications are required to join the tours. These may be obtained from the department's water sports centres or the Hong Kong Canoe Union and its affiliated clubs.
Cruise through coral and mangroves
For holders of the Kayak 3 Star Award or above, the Jockey Club Wong Shek Water Sports Centre will lead tours of the spectacular coral communities of Hoi Ha Wan and Tai Tan Hoi. Alternatively, the Tai Mei Tuk Water Sports Centre leads tours of the mangrove stands at Plover Cove in Tai Po. Holders of the Kayak 1 Star Award or above may visit the mangrove stands at To Kwa Peng, in Ko Tong Hau, Sai Kung, located next to the Jockey Club Wong Shek Water Sports Centre, or join a tour of remote beaches organised by the Chong Hing Water Sports Centre in Sai Kung.
Appreciate the power of the sea
For holders of the Kayak Proficiency Bronze Award or above, the Chong Hing Water Sports Centre will offer a tour of sea caves formed by the forces of the sea. They may also join the Tai Tam ecological canoe trip organised by the St Stephen's Beach Water Sports Centre in Southern District. Participants will paddle past the Radar Tower at Wong Ma Kok on the way to Tai Tam Bay to inspect Red Hill Peninsula and the large eroded rocks and caves at its base.
Fees per person range from $15 to $45, according to the tour itinerary and the age of the participants. If the number of applications exceeds the quota, places will be allocated by drawing lots.
Programme offers tailor-made sail training
The four water sports centres also offer a tailor-made sailing adventure programme that includes kayak, dinghy and windsurfing visits to coral communities, mangrove stands and sea caves. The centres will design sea expeditions or adventures based on the participants' level of proficiency in water sports. The benefits of the programme are many. As well as improving participants' skills in kayaking, dinghy sailing or windsurfing, the programme will help them develop self-confidence, increase their learning potential and foster team spirit in planning the expeditions. For novices, the centres can even design sea expeditions that include elementary training in kayaking, dinghy sailing or windsurfing. Each sailing adventure can accommodate five to eight participants. Fees will be charged on a daily basis depending on the programme content and itinerary.
Fostering environmental consciousness
The marine ecological tours and the sailing adventures not only allow participants to enjoy the fascinating maritime scenery and appreciate the wonders of nature, they also foster environmental consciousness.
Pamphlets on marine ecological tours and sailing adventures are now available at the four water sports centres and the District Leisure Services Offices of the 18 districts.
City of Life
September 12th, 2003, 07:45 PM
HK to host civil aviation conference
The 41st Conference of the Directors General of Civil Aviation, Asia & Pacific Regions, co-ordinated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, will be held in Hong Kong from November 1 to 5 next year.
It will have the theme "Partnership in Achieving a Safe, Secure & Efficient Air Transport System Through Effective Safety Oversight". The department noted the need for closer co-operation and partnership as the world moved towards globalisation, and aviation entered a new era of rapid technological development, bringing with it new safety, security and facilitation challenges.
Closer ties enhance safety and security
It is hoped that through discussions, delegates at the conference will gain an insight into recent developments in co-operative practices and programmes in respect of safety, security and efficiency. They will also discuss and agree on new co-operation initiatives and strategies for the region, as well as formulate an action plan for the implementation of agreed programmes and measures.
This year's conference was held in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, from September 1 to 5. Director-General of Civil Aviation Albert Lam, who was elected Vice-Chairman of the conference, attended the event with seven other representatives of the department as part of the Chinese delegation.
Meeting attracts 154 delegates
With the theme, "Human Factors and Safety Culture in Safety Management Systems to Enhance Safety, Security and Efficiency through Close Co-operation", the conference was well attended with 154 representatives from 36 Asian and Pacific States, administrations and three international organisations. A total of 93 discussion and information papers were submitted to the conference, including five submitted by Hong Kong covering the following areas:
* Hong Kong's latest CNS/ATM systems developments;
* regulation of air traffic services;
* emergency escape provisions - doors and escape slides deployment programme;
* backup air traffic control centre and tower at the Hong Kong International Airport; and
* the proposed theme for next year.
Beijing visit boosts co-operation
Prior to the conference, Mr Lam made a brief stop in Beijing and met with the Minister of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, Captain Yang Yuan-yuan, and Vice Minister Liu Shao-yong. They exchanged views on issues to be discussed at the International Civil Aviation Organisation 11th Air Navigation Conference to be held between September 22 and October 3 in Montreal, Canada. Mr Lam will be the deputy team leader of the Chinese delegation to the conference.
They also discussed a wide range of issues, including the impact of SARS on the aviation industry and the latest developments in Hong Kong and the Mainland, as well as the operations of Hong Kong-based airlines
September 12th, 2003, 10:23 PM
Wow!!!! Thanks a lot for that information!;)
September 13th, 2003, 05:22 AM
I really like the proposal of West Kowloon Cultural District
City of Life
September 13th, 2003, 06:49 PM
oh! I'm glad to see replies in this thread! reply , reply and reply! Lets give your reponses/opinions on the Hong Kong news!:D
City of Life
September 13th, 2003, 06:49 PM
Originally posted by Eric Wong
I really like the proposal of West Kowloon Cultural District
me too! :guns1:
City of Life
September 13th, 2003, 07:25 PM
HK to host forum on PKI
The Hong Kong Public Key Infrastructure Forum, chaired by the Postmaster General, Mr Allan Chiang, will host an international conference on "The Usage of PKI in e-Business" from September 15-16 at Harbour Plaza, Hunghom, Kowloon.
The conference is in line with the SAR Government's 2001 Digital 21 Strategy to position Hong Kong as a leading e-business community and digital city in the globally connected world.
"This international conference will be the e-business event of the year and it will will help enhance Hong Kong's e-business environment," said Mr Chiang. "With regional and international participation, the event will also help bring out the message that Hong Kong has now fully recovered from SARS and is Asia's world city both for business and tourism. It will further reinforce the status of Hong Kong as the Internet hub for the Asia Pacific Region," Mr Chiang added.
Smart technology in action
"The opening day for the forum is also the first day for the Hong Kong public to replace their identify cards with a new smart identify card, and opt to embed a digital certificate in the new card at the same time. This is an excellent example of the usage of PKI in facilitating e-transactions," Mr Chiang said.
Attending the event will be Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology (Communications and Technology) Francis Ho and Director of Information Technology Services Alan Wong, who will be the first speaker.
There will be about 250 senior executives participating in this International Conference and about 70 of them will be delegates of member PKI forums from the Asia Pacific Region.
Distinguished speakers to attend the forum
The conference will be attended by four keynote speakers of international repute, together with local and overseas experts who will speak on various subjects relating to the development of business applications using PKI technology.
The International Conference is partly sponsored by the government's Relaunch Hong Kong Programme and partly through the support of its members. A limited number of seats is available for the public at HK$3,000 each. Those interested can call the Secretariat, Hong Kong PKI Forum on 2921 6059 or fax to 2545 6607 for details.
City of Life
September 13th, 2003, 07:29 PM
Drill to test response to SARS attack
The Hospital Authority's William Ho says a mechanism is in place to warn of the onset of SARS in three stages - green, yellow and red - in ascending order of seriousness.
The Chief Executive of the authority said on an RTHK radio programme that once it came, the authority would activate measures to counter the attack.
This mechanism would enable its hospitals and outpatient clinics to detect early SARS patients, monitoring the disease's development.
AIDS drugs also to be used
Mr Ho said the authority would introduce the mechanism to staff, and conduct an exercise on how to handle the crisis should it happen.
On medication to SARS patients, he said the authority was considering combining Ribavirin and drugs used to fight AIDS. Results of the treatment would be compared with the methodology adopted previously.
He added that both the Government and the Hospital Authority had set up committees to review the medication issue. He noted that Hong Kong had referred only to the experience in Guangdong and locally when prescribing Ribavirin. Dr Ho is confident that the authority will do a better job in future.
Isolation facilities ready next month
Meanwhile, Hospital Authority Chairman Dr CH Leong said on an Commercial Radio programme that the Government would provide 1,280 isolation beds for SARS patients in public hospitals with casualty wards. About 70% of them would be ready from mid to late October. The authority would also ensure adequate provision of three months' protective clothing and equipment for medical personnel. Dr Leong said the Government and the authority had set up an inter-departmental unit to study the conversion of cargo containers into isolation wards in remote areas in emergencies when there was a sudden increase of SARS patients.
The authorities are searching for a suitable location for this purpose. The site must be conveniently located with an appropriate sewerage system, he said. He appealed to the public to remain vigilant and to take precautions, adding that there was not yet a vaccine against SARS.
City of Life
September 20th, 2003, 05:58 AM
InvestHK wins best promotion agency award
http://www.news.gov.hk/tc/category/businessandfinance/030915/html/030915p055jpg.jpg Top job: The International Direct Investment Group's Samuel Passow presents the Award for the Best Overall Managed Investment Promotion Agency in the Asia-Pacific region to InvestHK's Mike Rowse.
InvestHK has been chosen the best overall managed investment promotion agency in the Asia-Pacific region by Strategic Direct Investor magazine.
InvestHK's Director-General of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse accepted the award from the International Direct Investment Group's Samuel Passow today. Mr Rowse said his team accepts the award as encouragement to work even harder to promote Hong Kong's advantages to international investors and provide them with quality services to help their investment decisions.
HK the primary gateway to the Mainland
Praising InvestHK's achievements, Mr Passow said it has demonstrated the way to get to the top is by adopting a focused strategy. "InvestHK restructured its operations along specific industry lines, and concentrated on promoting clusters of excellence, be it in financial services, telecommunications or biotechnology," Mr Passow said. "Much of this has to do with the fact that Hong Kong is still the primary gateway to China. Hong Kong is the 10th largest market in the world for foreign direct investment, and the fourth largest market in the APEC region." Mr Passow said Hong Kong continues to be the leading choice for foreign firms setting up a regional office in Asia.
A real winner
In the magazine's inaugural Asia Pacific IPA Awards 2003, InvestHK won Best Overall Managed IPA in the Asia-Pacific region, Best North Asia IPA, Best IPA in Creating Partnerships and Best IPA in Attracting Financial Services Investment.
The agency was runner-up for the Best Marketing Campaign, Best Targeted Strategy and Best Client Service Provision, while Mr Rowse was runner-up in the CEO Lifetime Achievement category.
City of Life
September 20th, 2003, 06:03 AM
Tourists up 10% in August
http://www.news.gov.hk/tc/category/businessandfinance/030915/html/030915tsang600.jpg Living it and loving it: Film star Jackie Chan, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang and Tourism Board Chairman Selina Chow launch the Hong Kong - Live it, Love it! global advertising campaign.
August saw 1.64 million visitors come to Hong Kong, representing a return to positive year-on-year growth of about 9.6%. Tourism Board Chairman Selina Chow said that after 12 weeks of consolidated efforts by the Government, the local and overseas travel trade and the community, the tourism industry has recovered. She was speaking at the launch of the Hong Kong - Live it, Love it! global advertising campaign that showcases our dynamism and multi-dimensional experiences.
Also officiating were Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang, and film star Jackie Chan who appears in the commercial.
Following the Hong Kong premiere of the commercial tonight, the board will roll out the campaign worldwide, spearheaded by visits to New York and San Francisco by the Chief Secretary.
Featuring television, radio, print, online and outdoor advertising worldwide, the campaign is designed to sustain the tourism revival momentum, thereby strengthening Hong Kong's position as one the world's most popular destinations.
The campaign aims to sustain the recovery of the tourism trade and reinforce Hong Kong's long-term image as the world's most preferred Asian destination. The board will stage a series of mega-events from now until March. In October, it will stage the International Musical Fireworks Competition, the first of its kind in Asia.
HK WinterFest will be held from November to January and the International Chinese New Year Night Parade will be staged early next year. Another major programme is the pre-launch of the Avenue of Stars in March, highlighting Hong Kong's long movie history.
City of Life
September 26th, 2003, 05:57 PM
HK economic fundamentals strong, resilient: CS
http://www.news.gov.hk/tc/category/businessandfinance/030923/html/030923p005jpg.jpg Clean commitment: Chief Secretary Donald Tsang tells the US that Hong Kong is committed to upholding the rule of law, a level playing field, a clean government and the free flow of information.
Hong Kong's economic fundamentals have remained strong and resilient, despite our tough times recently. And more business opportunities are coming.
Addressing San Jose's business community in the US on Monday, Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang said as an international finance centre, Hong Kong's key attributes are still the rule of law, a level playing field, a clean government and the free flow of information.
Mr Tsang said the Government is committed to upholding all these values, which have attracted foreign investors.
More business opportunities on the way
Mr Tsang said: "Despite its successes, Hong Kong is not sitting on its hands. We want room to grow further, which will mean additional business opportunities for companies."
Hong Kong is well positioned to tap into the Mainland's vast markets.
"That is why we have concluded the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement and have massive infrastructure programmes to increase our connectivity with the Pearl River Delta," he said.
"We have also relaxed our policy for the admission of talented and professional people from the Mainland to work in Hong Kong. That means high-technology companies will find no shortage of suitable personnel in Hong Kong."
Global interest in HK's business opportunities
Mr Tsang said all discussions had gone well and the audiences were especially interested in the additional business opportunities expected from CEPA.
"They also felt that this, coupled with the possibility that Hong Kong will be allowed to handle some renminbi transactions, will reinforce Hong Kong's position as the entry point to China." Mr Tsang also updated them on Hong Kong's political and social developments.
Apart from meeting business groups in San Jose, the centre of Silicon Valley, Mr Tsang met San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, and addressed the Pacific Council on International Policy.
Later in the day, he officiated at the West Coast launch of the HK Tourism Board's Hong Kong - Live it. Love it! campaign
City of Life
September 26th, 2003, 05:59 PM
Volume of outbound goods up 10.4% in July
The volume of Hong Kong's re-exports of goods increased 12.2% in July over the same month last year, while domestic exports decreased 7.3%.
Taken together, the volume of total exports of goods grew 10.4%. Concurrently, the volume of imports of goods recorded a 7.3% rise.
Comparing the first seven months of 2003 with the same period in 2002, the volume of re-exports of goods rose 18.2%, while domestic exports fell 11.5%.
Taken together, the volume of total exports goods grew 15.4%. Over the same period of comparison, imports of goods increased 13.1% in volume.
Comparing the three-month period ending July with the preceding three months on a seasonally adjusted basis, the volume of total exports of goods recorded an increase of 5%.
Within this total, the volume of re-exports went up 4.9%, and domestic exports rose 7%. Over the same period of comparison, the volume of imports of goods increased 2.4%.
The price of total exports of goods went down 1.2% in the first seven months of 2003 over a year earlier. Concurrently, the prices of imports of goods decreased 0.3%.
City of Life
September 26th, 2003, 06:02 PM
Fireworks to climax National Day celebrations
A series of official and community celebratory activities will be held on National Day, October 1, including a breath-taking fireworks display.
Sponsored by the HK Chiu Chow Chamber of Commerce and Tak Sing Alliance Holdings, the display will start at 9pm, and will be followed by an eight-minute preview of the HK International Musical Fireworks Competition. Other activities include the Flag Raising Ceremony, National Day Reception and a variety show.
Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa will officiate at the flag raising, and about 700 guests, including Government officials, members of the consular corps, dignitaries and community leaders, will attend. The Chief Executive will later host a cocktail reception at the Convention & Exhibition Centre for invited guests from various sectors of the community.
The Association of Compatriots in Hong Kong will host a variety show at 7pm at the Coliseum, featuring performances by the HK Chinese Orchestra, the 12 Girls Band, the HK Dance Company, the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison, Warren Mok and local pop stars. About 2,800 tickets will be available free for the public and on a first come, first served basis at the Public Enquiry Service Centres of all the District Offices on September 29, from 9am.
City of Life
September 26th, 2003, 06:05 PM
HK people enjoy good general health
Hong Kong enjoys highly satisfactory health indices compared to the rest of the world. Department of Health Consultant Dr Tse Lai-yin said major health indices, including the infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio and life expectancy at birth, has remained consistently high over recent decades.
The infant mortality rate, which is among the lowest in the world, has dropped from 9.7 per 1,000 registered live births in 1981 to 2.4 in 2002.
The maternal mortality ratio remained low over the past two decades. There was only one maternal death registered in 2002. Another important index - life expectancy at birth - has been steadily rising for more than three decades. The index reached 78.6 years among males and 84.5 for females in 2002, compared with approximately 67 among males and 75 for females in the early 1970s.[
Dr Tse said the figures reflected substantial improvements in the public health infrastructure, medical care, public education and better hygiene.
"However, cancer, heart disease and cerebrovascular disease remained the top three killers," she said.
Keeping a healthy lifestyle is crucial to maintaining good health, she said, advising people to eat a balanced diet, do regular exercise, refrain from smoking and have adequate rest.
Information, including the major health indices, can be obtained from the department's website and its Central Health Education Unit website, or via its hotline 2833 0111.
City of Life
September 26th, 2003, 06:10 PM
Protection for Repulse Bay area
Under protection: Some undeveloped coastal areas along Deep Water Bay, South Bay and Middle Island will be rezoned from "Green Belt" to "Coastal Protection Area".
The Town Planning Board has amended the approved Shouson Hill & Repulse Bay Outline Zoning Plan, rezoning some undeveloped coastal areas from "Green Belt" to "Coastal Protection Area".
The area covers Deep Water Bay, South Bay, Middle Island and three smaller islands.This zone is intended to conserve the sensitive coastal environment, including attractive geological features and areas of scenic or ecological value.
In general, only developments that support the conservation of the existing natural landscape or scenic quality of the area, or a development that is an essential infrastructure project, may be permitted.
To enhance the Repulse Bay area as a tourist attraction and to allow potential small-scale hotel development, "Hotel" use has been incorporated in the plan.
Copies of the draft plan are available for sale at the Map Publications Centre in North Point and Yau Ma Tei.
City of Life
September 26th, 2003, 06:13 PM
Asian cultural forum to be held in HK
The Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum, organised by the Home Affairs Bureau, will be held in Hong Kong September 28 to 30.
Ministers for culture, cultural leaders and professionals of prominent cultural organisations from Asian economies including Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, The Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan have been invited.
The three-day event will feature a ministerial meeting, open forums and cultural programmes.
Secretary for Home Affairs Dr Patrick Ho said the forum aims to foster cultural co-operation and share experiences on efforts to promote creative industries among the participating economies.
"It will also enhance Hong Kong's profile as the creative and cultural hub of Asia," Dr Ho said.
The public is invited to attend the following two forum sessions to be held at the Convention & Exhibition Centre: (Session 1) September 29, 2.30pm, discussing arts, crafts and antiques, and performing arts; and, (Session 2) September 30, 9.30am, publishing, film and video, and design.
The forum is the first occasion of its kind where Asian cultural delegations headed at the ministerial level share their experience with the arts, cultural and creative sectors of Hong Kong.
City of Life
September 26th, 2003, 06:20 PM
Flights up 16% for Golden Week
Some 634 flight movements are expected at the airport on October 1, the first day of the National Day Golden Week holiday. It is a 16% rise over the current daily rate. The Civil Aviation Department said the anticipated surge is due to more individual Mainland travellers coming to Hong Kong, and locals heading abroad.
As at today, eight airlines have submitted slot requests to operate 88 additional scheduled and ad-hoc charter flights (a total of 176 flight movements) from tomorrow to October 7, with most applications falling between October 1 and 5.
All requests received so far have been accepted.
Among the additional flights, 65% will operate to and from Mainland destinations, while 27% and 8% will be between Hong Kong and Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia respectively.
The majority of the extra services are flights between Shanghai and Hong Kong, accounting for almost 60% of the total. Phuket and Bangkok in Thailand are also among the more popular destinations from Hong Kong for the period.
At present, there are an average of 545 daily flight movements at the airport. The figure represents more than 90% of pre-SARS level.
Last year, 36 additional scheduled and ad-hoc charter flights (a total of 72 flight movements) were operated around the Golden Week period (September 22 to October 7, 2002), with Guilin, Taipei and Sapporo being the most preferred destinations.
City of Life
September 26th, 2003, 06:28 PM
New system set to beat SARS resurgence
To combat any SARS resurgence swiftly and rigorously, a three-level response system is being planned.
Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong said today the move is part of the Government's comprehensive strategy to beat SARS.
The system will be activated when there are laboratory-confirmed SARS cases outside Hong Kong, or a SARS alert in Hong Kong.
When there are one or more laboratory-confirmed SARS cases here, occurring in a sporadic manner, the Level 1 response will be activated.
Level 2 will be in place when there are signs of local transmission of the disease.
CE to chair steering committee
A steering committee will be set up to issue Government responses to Level 1 and Level 2 outbreaks. Dr Yeoh will head the committee at Level 1, while the Chief Executive will head at Level 2.
Dr Yeoh said the steering committee will formulate overall disease control strategy and decide on measures to curb its spread.
Apart from closely monitoring the situation and reviewing measures taken, the committee will assess the socio-economic impact of the crisis and make decisions on measures to minimise the impact.
It will also evaluate the Government's preparedness to cope with possible deterioration of the situation and direct measures to be taken to augment any inadequacy.
Drills will be conducted in November to test the operation and effectiveness of the response plan.
60 more recruited for temperature screening
To strengthen our preparedness, temperature screening and health declarations at immigration checkpoints will continue. The Department of Health will employ 60 more people to carry out the job. To strengthen healthcare workers' knowledge on infectious disease control, some 1,860 courses have been held over the past six months.
Hospital Authority Chief Executive Dr William Ho said some 1,290 additional isolation beds will be ready in phases at nine major acute public hospitals, while some 150 beds in another five public hospitals are being converted into isolated ones.
Together with the existing 300 isolation beds, there will be a total of 1,700 isolation beds available by the end of the year.
CDC-like organisation in place by year's end
Dr Yeoh said that action is in hand to set up a Centre for Disease Control-like organisation to strengthen the longer-term infectious disease prevention. He expects its preparatory body to be in place towards the end of the year.
On maintaining close and effective surveillance, the Government will keep close contact with the Mainland, Macau and other neighbouring health authorities to ensure information exchange.
The Checklist of Measures to Combat SARS covers measures for 17 public and private organisations in sectors such as health, education, social welfare, transport, housing, tourism, aviation, labour and food premises.
Dr Yeoh encouraged different sectors to prepare their own contingency plans and to conduct drills regularly.
As the SARS Expert Committee will publish its report early next month, Dr Yeoh said the Government will study the recommendations and incorporate them into the checklist where appropriate.
The checklist will also be under constant review and improved.
September 26th, 2003, 06:43 PM
Hong Kong :guns1:
City of Life
September 27th, 2003, 12:05 PM
Originally posted by HKguy
Hong Kong :guns1:
City of Life
September 27th, 2003, 12:23 PM
Ferry passengers in transit exempt from tax
Transit passengers who arrive at Hong Kong International Airport via a new cross-boundary ferry service for direct onward travel by air will be exempted from the Air Passenger Departure Tax following the opening of the new airport cross-boundary ferry terminal on Monday.
The order, under the APDT Ordinance (Amendment of Second Schedule) Order 2003, was published in the Gazette today and takes immediate effect.
Under the existing ordinance, direct transit and connecting airside transit passengers are exempt from the Air Passenger Departure Tax. It is consistent with Government policy to exempt from the tax all transit passengers arriving at Hong Kong International Airport by cross-boundary ferry.
The arrangement will assist and encourage passengers from the Mainland and Macau to make use of the airport and further Hong Kong's development as a regional and international aviation hub.
City of Life
September 30th, 2003, 03:00 PM
CEPA deals offer more business opportunities
Freer trade: Vice Minister of Commerce An Min and Financial Secretary Henry Tang sign the six CEPA Annexes at a ceremony this morning.
The Government and the Central Government have signed the six annexes to the main text of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Vice Minister of Commerce An Min and Financial Secretary Henry Tang said this will bring more business opportunities to both Hong Kong and the Mainland. They said the CEPA is a continuous and open agreement, adding that ongoing efforts will be made in enhancing and broadening its content.
The annexes signed today set out the arrangement's implementation details. They cover the following areas:
* arrangements for implementation of zero tariff for trade in goods;
* rules of origin for trade in goods, procedures for the issuing and verification of certificates of origin;
* specific commitments on liberalisation of trade in services;
* the detailed definition of "Service Supplier" and related requirements; and
* trade and investment facilitation.
Speaking at a press conference held after the signing ceremony, Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology John Tsang said that CEPA has good potential to open up many more new business opportunities in the Mainland for Hong Kong as well as to enhance Hong Kong's attractiveness to overseas investors.
273 products to enjoy zero tariff from January 1
On trade in goods, the Mainland has agreed to eliminate tariffs on imported goods of Hong Kong origin in stages. Starting from January 1, 273 Mainland product codes meeting CEPA rules of origin will enjoy zero tariffs.
For other products, the Mainland will apply zero tariff no later than January 1, 2006 upon applications by local manufacturers and upon CEPA rules of origin being agreed and met.
For 70% of the 273 Mainland product codes covered in the initial phase, Hong Kong's existing process-based origin rules will be adopted as the CEPA origin rules. For the rest, either the "Change in Tariff Heading" approach or the "30% value-added" requirement will be used.
"While the 30% rule already compares favourably with other free-trade agreements whose thresholds range from 40% to 60%, product development costs will also be counted in the calculation in the case of CEPA," Mr Tsang said.
On trade in services, the two sides have agreed on some further clarifications and refinements regarding the liberalisation of the 17 sectors of services agreed and announced.
Preferential treatment granted to telecoms services
Moreover, the Mainland has also agreed to grant preferential treatment in one additional sector - telecoms services - taking the total number of sectors covered under CEPA to 18. Also, equity participation in Mainland Insurance companies will also be relaxed.
As regards the definition of "Hong Kong Service Suppliers", generally speaking, "juridical persons" include companies, partnerships, sole proprietorships. "Juridical persons" and "natural persons" of Hong Kong will be able to enjoy preferential treatment provided that they fulfil the definition and related requirements of Hong Kong service suppliers stipulated in relevant annex of CEPA.
Unless otherwise specified in CEPA, a "natural person" means a Hong Kong permanent resident whereas a "juridical person" means any legal entity duly constituted or otherwise organised under the applicable laws of Hong Kong and which has engaged in substantive business operations in Hong Kong for three to five years.
The Trade & Industry Department will provide the one-stop enquiry and certification services for the implementation of CEPA in Hong Kong. A designated branch has been set up in the department to handle public enquiries, disseminate practical information and process applications for the certification of "Hong Kong Service Suppliers". With regard to trade and investment facilitation, both sides agreed on the contents and modalities of cooperation for each of the seven areas which are stipulated in the main parts of CEPA, and that new areas of trade and investment facilitation might be added in future.
Joint steering committee set up
With a view to broadening CEPA's scope and coverage, the two sides will pursue further liberalisation on goods and services trade in the latter phases. A Joint Steering Committee, responsible for overall coordination of CEPA, will be set up soon. It will be jointly chaired by the Financial Secretary and An Min.
"CEPA adopts a building-block approach and provides a mechanism for further liberalisation measures. In formulating the strategy for the subsequent phases of CEPA, we will continue to consult the business and professional communities to understand their needs," Mr Tsang said. "We will also discuss with the concerned business sectors on appropriate policy measures that may be required to enable them to gain the greatest benefits from CEPA," he added.
Today's signing ceremony was held after a meeting between the Financial Secretary and the Vice Minister this morning for the fifth High Level Consultations on CEPA.
City of Life
September 30th, 2003, 03:03 PM
Certification for telecoms sector to start
The HK Service Suppliers certification service will launch on Thursday.
The Government has set up the scheme for telecoms sector service suppliers, allowing them to claim preferential treatment under CEPA, the Trade & Industry Department says.
The Mainland agreed on September 29 to grant preferential treatment in an additional sector, taking the total number of sectors covered under CEPA to 18.
The Mainland will apply to service suppliers in Hong Kong the specific commitments set out in CEPA Annex 4 as of October 1 for the telecoms sector, and from January 1 for the other 17 sectors.
Service suppliers in Hong Kong will be able to enjoy the preferential treatment provided they fulfil the definition and related requirements of Hong Kong service suppliers stipulated in CEPA Annex 5.
They should apply to the department for a Certificate of HK Service Supplier before they apply to Mainland authorities for provision of relevant services there.
Service suppliers in the telecoms sector can submit their applications from October 2.
For details, please browse http://www.tid.gov.hk/
City of Life
September 30th, 2003, 03:07 PM
Top retailer sets up global HQ in HK
Germany's largest retailer and one of the world's top four, METRO AG, has set up its global sourcing headquarters in Hong Kong, covering all markets outside the European Union.
According to the company's management board member Stefan Feuerstein, Hong Kong offers ideal conditions with its long tradition as a trading and import location and its excellent strategic position at the centre of the important East Asian procurement markets. METRO's Hong Kong operation, Gemex Trading Ltd, was integrated into the Group and will use the name MGB METRO Group Buying Hong Kong Ltd from November 1. It will be responsible for all buying activities from Asia and non-EU countries.
Mr Feuerstein said the Hong Kong office will further expand its important position as the interface of METRO's imports.
Regional offices have been set up to report directly to the Hong Kong office.
HK's position as trading capital reinforced
Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion Simon Galpin said METRO's investment reinforces Hong Kong's position as the trading and sourcing capital of Asia. "Our excellent business infrastructure and convenient location enables overseas companies to coordinate their buying activities not only from China and Asia, but also from other parts of the world," he said.
Proximity to manufacturing bases in the Mainland is also an asset.
About 20% of Hong Kong's workforce is engaged in trading, sourcing and distribution. METRO AG is a trading and retailing group with more than 2,300 locations in 27 countries. It employs more than 235,000 people and generated sales of almost EUR52 billion last year, of which more than 46% are from abroad.
City of Life
September 30th, 2003, 03:13 PM
Appeal to SARS patients to donate plasma
The Hospital Authority is appealing to recovered SARS patients to participate in a blood donation programme to help research into the preparation of hyperimmune globulin as post-exposure protection for healthcare workers.
Many healthcare workers were exposed to the SARS-related coronavirus and were possibly infected by SARS while carrying out high-risk procedures for SARS patients. The authority said that, apart from stringent infection control measures and a contingency response mechanism for SARS, it accords top priority to finding better treatments for SARS to prepare for possible future outbreaks.
There is a lack of an established and efficacious treatment regimen for SARS patients, so hyperimmune globulin has been proposed as a means of prevention of infection after unprotected exposure.
1,000 ex-SARS patients are suitable donors
The participation of recovered SARS patients in blood donation is required to produce enough hyperimmune globulin for any meaningful purpose. Each recovered patient can donate 500 centilitres of blood each time they make a donation. There are 1,000 recovered SARS patients aged between 18 and 55 who are suitable to donate blood plasma.
The use of hyperimmune globulin in post-exposure protection against hepatitis B has already been well established, but its use against the SARS coronavirus has to be tested.
The research project will be conducted under a clinical research protocol according to international safety standards. In the recruitment and assessment process, selection criteria and information packages have been developed to ensure informed consent from recovered SARS patients is obtained.
Plasma to be processed in Australia
The Hospital Authority's blood transfusion service will be responsible for the overall coordination of recruitment, testing and collection of donated plasma. An invitation letter together with detailed information of the plasma donation programme will soon be sent to recovered SARS patients to ask them to participate.
The patients can contact the blood transfusion service to join the programme or approach clinicians during their regular follow-ups. Recovered patients can also call the service at 2710 1202 during office hours.
All the plasma collected will be sent to Australia for processing and separation into immunoglobulin, which will then follow established research protocol and be put on trial in animals before use in the clinical setting.
City of Life
September 30th, 2003, 03:16 PM
New exemptions from airport tax
The government has introduced new measures to encourage more passengers from the Mainland and Macau to use Hong Kong International Airport.
From today (September 27), transit passengers arriving at the airport by a new cross-boundary ferry service for direct onward travel by air will be exempt from the Hong Kong departure tax. The exemption is connected with the opening on Monday (September 29)of the new airport cross-boundary ferry terminal. The terminal will enable passengers from Macau and certain Mainland ports to reach the airport directly by ferry for onward travel by air.
"Under the existing Ordinance, direct transit and connecting airside transit passengers are exempt from the Air Passenger Departure Tax," a government spokesman said. It was therefore consistent with government policy to exempt from the tax all transit passengers arriving at Hong Kong International Airport by cross-boundary ferry.
"The arrangement will assist and encourage passengers from the Mainland and Macau to make use of the airport and further Hong Kong's development as a regional and international aviation hub," the spokesman said.
City of Life
October 3rd, 2003, 06:45 PM
Hong Kong on target as Asia's venture capital management hub
Hong Kong Venture Capital Association's chairman Kevin Yip says the SAR's sound banking and financial system contributes to its position as Asia's centre for venture capital management
Hong Kong is set to solidify its position as Asia's centre for venture capital management, as funds managed out of Hong Kong doubled in the first half of 2003 to almost HK$31 billion (US$ 4 billion).
According to Kevin Yip, chairman of the Hong Kong Venture Capital Association, this comes on the back of Hong Kong's core advantages, with its rule of law and robust banking and financial system. Hong Kong also benefits from its special location at the doorstep of China, as most of the capital going into the mainland passes through the city first. Currently, the major destinations for venture capital funds managed through Hong Kong were Korea, Japan and the mainland. "China is a particularly attractive destination for venture capitalists, yet people are wary of the corporate governance risks in China," said Mr Yip.
"Financial investors have to rely on an external regulatory environment in which their interests are well-protected, and Hong Kong is still a number of steps ahead in such matters," added Mr Yip.
Ideal platform for overseas expansion
Besides attracting foreign capital and private equity from external investors, Hong Kong is also very attractive as a centre for fledgling mainland companies to expand into offshore markets.
Vincent Chan, director of JAFCO Investment (Hong Kong) said: "Mainland companies are not only looking for funds and market capitalisation, but they need assistance for their overseas expansion plans. Who can help them the most are the professionals in Hong Kong." He cited the abundance of talent in Hong Kong, who have gained extensive experience with multinational companies, and are well-versed and disciplined in corporate governance standards.
"Hong Kong is therefore an ideal vehicle for mainland companies to go overseas," added Mr Chan.
He projected a continued demand from mainland companies to access talent in Hong Kong. "There is a consistently strong requirement to come to Hong Kong, to get help to internationalise, and to take advantage of the wealth of experience that local talent can provide," said Mr Chan.
Both Mr Yip and Mr Chan spoke at a recent venture capital/private equity conference, co-organised by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Venture Capital Association.
For more details: www.hkvca.com.hk
City of Life
October 3rd, 2003, 06:52 PM
Top brands choose Hong Kong airport
Hong Kong International Airport's big-name line up of luxury brands is believed to constitute the finest airport retail development in the world
International luxury brands Prada, Tiffany, Baccarat, Christian Dior and Ralph Lauren have chosen Hong Kong to open their first airport shops in the world. A host of other high-end product names and restaurants have also taken space in the HK$600 million (US$77 million) revamp of Hong Kong International Airport's (HKIA) SkyMart, which has begun opening in stages and will be completed by the end of the year.
Twenty-five new designer boutiques in the airport's expanded East Hall include Burberry, Dunhill, Fendi, Omega, Ferragamo, Bally, Bvlgari, Gucci, Hermes, Cartier, Celine, Chanel, Coach, Zegna, Hugo Boss, Lanvin, Longchamp, MontBlanc and Lancel. Hong Kong brand Shanghai Tang is also opening an airport shop for the first time.
"We now have an assortment of top tier brand names that you will not find in any other airport in the world - even (London's) Heathrow cannot compete with that," HKIA commercial director Hans Bakker said.
He added that HKIA has done a lot of marketing all over the world in order to attract the right brand names.
"We have positioned our airport as the window to the Chinese mainland. It is the biggest airport in the region, and a gateway of China. So looking at our passenger profile, HKIA is the ideal hub for the international brands to have an airport presence."
Fifty-two per pent of airport "big spending" customers are Taiwanese, Japanese and Chinese mainlanders - especially mainlanders, who make up the fastest growing market sector.
"Mainland shoppers are very brand conscious - perhaps even to a higher level than the Japanese," Mr Bakker said. "They know that the brands on sale here are authentic, and because there are no import duties in Hong Kong, branded products they buy here are around 25 per cent cheaper than in mainland China."
Along with 50 more shops, the SkyMart extension also includes 29 new eateries featuring both Western and Eastern cuisine. Options include fine dining and live jazz at Cafe Deco, wood fired pizza from Wildfire, and the laid-back atmosphere of the Champions Sports Bar (including smoking section). Also present are Hong Kong's only Burger King and Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits outlets. Well-established Chinese eatery Pak Loh Chiu Chow Express and the popular Ajisen Ramen restaurant are also opening their first airport outlets at HKIA.
The overall ambience of the SkyMart makeover exudes an air of warmth, comfort, and quality. Comfortable lounge areas, latest IT facilities and a designer decor further enhance the atmosphere of fine dining and luxury shopping. "We believe we have catered to all sections of the market, in all price sectors, giving an entirely new airport experience," Mr Bakker said. "With more space to relax, more shops, more brands and more choices for dining and refreshment, I'm confident this will be the finest airport retail development in the world."
City of Life
October 3rd, 2003, 07:00 PM
IndeCorp selects HK for its regional HQ
Chicago-based hotel marketing company IndeCorp Corporation has established its Asia Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong to enlarge its regional portfolio.
IndeCorp's Managing Director of Summit Hotels & Resorts Richard Lewis said the company recognises there are enormous opportunities for growth in the Asia-Pacific region, and Hong Kong is the obvious place from which to launch its expansion strategy.
"We have already expanded our sales efforts in the region and are looking to add new hotels to the portfolio," he said.
InvestHK Director-General of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse said he is delighted the company has chosen Hong Kong. "Since the SARS outbreak ended, the local travel industry has rebounded strongly. With more hotels under construction, there are great opportunities for IndeCorp to expand its network of hotels in Hong Kong," he said. "Hong Kong is one of the key travel and tourism hubs in Asia. We have the fifth busiest airport in the world in terms of cross-border passenger throughput - with half of the world's population living within five hours' flight time. "Hong Kong is also one of the major hotel hubs in Asia. The average hotel occupancy in 2002 was 84%, and post-SARS, we appear to be returning to those levels with a steady growth in the influx of business travellers and tourists, particularly from the Mainland."
IndeCorp Corporation is the parent company of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Sterling Hotels & Resorts, and Summit Hotels & Resorts. IndeCorp, through its three hotel brands, currently has properties on the Mainland, in Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Australia. IndeCorp's hotels in Hong Kong are the Park Lane, the Langham Hotel (Great Eagle) and Harbour Plaza.
Together, the three IndeCorp brands offer travellers and travel professionals more than 300 distinctive luxury hotels and resorts in 51 countries.
October 3rd, 2003, 07:01 PM
I found an interesting article from The Standard (www.thestandard.com.hk)
Students' Hong Kong feeling
The SAR's secondary school students consider themselves Hong Kongers rather than Chinese.
They also have a greater passion for Hong Kong than the mainland, a survey has found.
Hok Yau Club, a student counselling group, polled 4,595 students from 75 secondary schools and found that most students considered Chinese as mainlanders.
On a scale of six, those who considered themselves Hong Kongers rated an average 5.09 points - a slight increase compared with last year, while those who considered themselves Chinese rated only 4.34 points - a 0.32 point drop from last year.
Professor Wilson Wong, assistant professor of public administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who conducted the survey, said students interviewed see Hong Kongers and Chinese differently.
``Chinese people are traditional, progressive and hardworking. Hong Kong people are smart and open,'' he said. ``And students believe Hong Kongers are better than Chinese in `civilian qualities'.''
The survey showed that 80 per cent of the students said Hong Kongers would pursue democracy, freedom and equality. They are also concerned about corruption. Forty per cent of the students polled do not care about mainland news.
Wong suggested students try to understand more about China, and not remain conservative, while the government should strengthen its civil education and improve students' political knowledge and allow them time to think about civil duties and rights.
City of Life
October 3rd, 2003, 07:06 PM
haha, Hong Kong people or Chinese?:D
October 3rd, 2003, 07:11 PM
Originally posted by City of Life
haha, Hong Kong people or Chinese?:D
it doesnt matter
usually i'd say: i'm chinese from hk;) make it detailed
City of Life
October 4th, 2003, 07:15 PM
SARS experts to oversee disease defences
One way of consoling those who have suffered or lost the ones they love is to offer to do your very best to ensure a similar situation does not happen again.
This was the message from SARS Expert Committee co-chairman Sir Cyril Chantler addressing a luncheon meeting today. He said the experts will do their best to implement the 46 recommendations in their report on SARS to enhance Hong Kong's defences against the illness.
His fellow chairman Professor Sian Griffiths and two local members, Professors Rosie Young and Lee Shiu-hung, have joined a monitoring committee to oversee the implementation of recommendations.
Health protection centre recommended
Professor Griffiths said a health protection centre has been proposed instead of a centre for disease control because Hong Kong needs a central point for with appropriate outbreak control plans. "What you need in Hong Kong is something appropriate to a city state of approximately seven million people," she said, adding that the US' Centres for Disease Control & Prevention is for a larger federal government.
Briefing the public
The committee members continued their busy schedule today, explaining the findings and recommendations of the report to the public through media interviews and forums.
In these meetings, they briefed the medical faculties of two universities and 50 representatives from the health care sector, patients right groups and the Amoy Gardens owner's committee.
They met with over 100 officers from the Health, Welfare & Food Bureau, Department of Health, Hospital Authority and Social Welfare Department.
The full and summary reports of the SARS Expert Committee are accessible on the committee's website at http://www.sars-expertcom.gov.hk.
Over 100,000 copies of the summary reports are available for collection at all District Offices.
City of Life
October 4th, 2003, 07:19 PM
New attraction opens in Tai Po
The new giant floral display at Tai Po Waterfront Park is expected to become a magnet for visitors and photographers, showing nature's beauty and educating the public on our botanical wonders.
The Leisure & Cultural Services Department hopes the display, which is part of the Landscape Improvement Project, will help promote green consciousness.
Natural wonder: Apart from the eye-catching floral display, the Tai Po Waterfront Park also features the Insect House. The park, embraced by the sea, is an ideal place for a leisurely afternoon.
Located near the Spiral Lookout Tower, the display is in the shape of a fan. Its gentle slopes are covered with a colourful assortment of seven different flowers. To promote environmental education, signs have been put up at the floral display to draw visitors' attention to interesting facts about the flowers. For instance, they will learn that Garden Petunias and Torenia can be dried and used as bookmarks, whereas Celosia is commonly used by herbalists.
Other attractions of the park include the Spiral Lookout Tower, the Western Garden, the Insect House and the Ecological Garden. All are popular spots for photo taking.
The park is conveniently located near other attractions in Tai Po, ranging from the historic, such as the HK Railway Museum, King Law Ka Shuk Ancestral Hall, and the Wishing Tree, to the sports-oriented like the water sports centre and cycling trail in Tai Mei Tuk, and the Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve.
City of Life
October 4th, 2003, 07:21 PM
HK crime rate remains at low level
Hong Kong's crime situation in the past year remained stable and the crime rate continued to stay at a low level, according to the newly released Fight Crime Committee Report.
The rate stood at 1,118 reported crimes per 100,000 population, despite a slight increase in the overall number of crimes by 3.9%. The overall crime detection rate of 42.7% compared favourably with other major cities. The number of violent crimes rose by 4.3%, mainly due to the increase in wounding, indecent assault and robbery cases. However, the figure still remained low when compared with 1998, 1999 and 2000. Both burglary cases and goldsmith/watch shop robberies recorded the lowest figure in the past 23 years. On the other hand, the number of shop thefts and street deception cases rose by 8.7% and 30.2% respectively.
Number of youth offenders going down
As for juvenile and youth crimes, the numbers of offenders arrested dropped by 9.7% and 1.9% respectively when compared to 2001. For narcotics offences, the arrest of juveniles and young persons under age 21 also plunged 23.2%.
The committee was pleased to note that with the vigorous enforcement actions taken by the Mainland and Hong Kong authorities, there was a downward trend of young persons taking illicit drugs back to Hong Kong from the Mainland. Copies of the report will be available to the public at various district offices from October 6.
City of Life
October 8th, 2003, 03:07 PM
Measures ease negative-equity owners' burden
Burden relieved: The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has put in place a number of measures to help negative-equity homeowners reduce their financial burden.
About 6,700 holders of negative-equity residential mortgage loans received interest-rate reductions from June last year to August this year, Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury says.
Terms were restructured for about 2,800 other negative-equity cases.
The weighted average interest rate on negative-equity residential mortgage loans has substantially declined, to the current level of 1.07% below the best lending rate. Responding to legislator Albert Chan in the Legislative Council today, Frederick Ma said in the 12-month period to June this year, authorised institutions disposed of about 4,000 repossessed residential properties.
Only about 15% of negative-equity residential mortgage loans were being charged above the best lending rate as at June this year.
Mr Ma noted that measures have been taken to provide authorised institutions with greater flexibility to help negative-equity homeowners reduce their financial burden.
For example, these institutions are allowed to refinance residential mortgage loans in negative equity up to 100% of the current market value of the mortgaged properties.
The Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation and other parties are also supported in arranging programmes with these institutions to help negative-equity homeowners to refinance mortgage loans in excess of 100% of the current market value of the properties (currently up to 140%) at a more favourable mortgage rate.
The trade has also been encouraged to set up hotlines to handle enquiries on loan restructuring, as well as to help negative-equity homeowners in financial difficulties seeking loan restructuring.
City of Life
October 8th, 2003, 03:10 PM
Foreign currency reserve assets rise in Sept
Hong Kong's official foreign currency reserve assets amounted to US$112.1 billion at the end of September, up from August's US$111.8 billion.
The Monetary Authority said in terms of foreign currency reserves ranking, Hong Kong is the world's fifth largest holder of foreign currency reserves, after Japan, the Mainland, Taiwan and South Korea.
The total foreign currency reserve assets of US$112.1 billion represent about seven times the currency in circulation or 43% of Hong Kong dollar M3.
Retail sales values up 1.2% in August
Retail business picked up in August, with retail sales provisionally estimated at $14.7 billion - an increase of 1.2% compared with August 2002.
After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the overall volume of retail sales increased by 3% in August from a year earlier.
The revised estimate on the value of total retail sales in July 2003 was $14.6 billion, down by 2.5% in value or 0.3% in volume from a year earlier.
Taking the first eight months of 2003 together, retail sales declined by 5.3% in value or 2.8% in volume as compared to a year earlier.
SARS dampened consumer spending
In August, the volume of retail sales resumed a year-on-year increase after declining for six consecutive months beginning in February, due to the impact of SARS. Retail sales were also bolstered by the marked rebound in visitor arrivals, particularly those from the Mainland since the launch of the "individual visit" scheme in late July.
Nearly every sector sees rise in retail sales
Retail-sales improvements were seen almost across the board. Analysed by type of retail outlet and comparing August with a year earlier, sales of electrical goods and photographic equipment increased the most, by 18.9% in volume.
This was followed by sales of furniture and fixtures (by 12.4% in volume); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (9.8%); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (8%); miscellaneous consumer goods (7.3%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (3.3%); jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (2.3%); and wearing apparel (1.8%)
City of Life
October 8th, 2003, 03:15 PM
Needy seniors get free flu vaccinations
Best defences: Free influenza vaccinations for needy seniors will be provided from November 10.
Free vaccinations will be provided for non-institutionalised seniors who are at high risk of influenza and have financial difficulties.
People aged 65 or more who are Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients or have medical waivers from the Hospital Authority or Social Welfare Department are eligible for the free shot. They must also be assessed to be at higher risk of serious complications from influenza because of chronic heart or lung diseases.
The Department of Health said the decision has been made in light of a call in the community for the Government to extend its free flu vaccination programme to vulnerable elderly during the illnesses' high-risk season.
Guard against influenza
Those eligible should visit the Hospital Authority's General Out-Patient Clinics for medical advice on the suitability of vaccination.
Members of the department's Elderly Health Centres can obtain medical advice and vaccinations at these centres. The Government said it has procured adequate additional vaccines for the extended programme and vaccination for this group will start November 10.
However, the public must understand that the flu vaccine does not protect against SARS which has no vaccine as yet. Although the flu vaccine is generally safe, it does not confer 100% protection.
The Government has been providing influenza vaccination to the elderly in residential care homes since 1998 because they are at highest risk.
Securing elderly homes against the illness
There were outbreaks of respiratory tract infection caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus in five elderly homes and one childcare centre last month.
The department said that since August, its officers have been visiting elderly homes to assess their capability to handle infectious-disease outbreaks.
All elderly homes are reminded to maintain necessary hygiene practices and to report all suspected outbreaks to the health authority.
In addition, the Social Welfare Department has designated an Infection Control Officer in elderly homes to deal with infection control.
Comprehensive updated guidelines on Prevention of Communicable Diseases will be distributed to all elderly homes in the coming month.
City of Life
October 8th, 2003, 03:17 PM
Timeframe set for SARS recommendations
A task force to take forward recommendations by the SARS Expert Committee has set the timeframe for urgent tasks to be accomplished within six months, while some will need longer time to plan, develop and achieve. Chaired by the Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, the task force met this evening to discuss ways to take forward the recommendations.
Strategies and action plans will be drawn up to take forward the recommendations.
They also agreed:
* to study the recommendations of the Expert Committee and determine how best to take forward the implementation of them;
* to co-ordinate with government bureaux/departments, the Hospital Authority, the academic and research community, relevant non-government organisations and the private health care sector stakeholders in the implementation of the recommendations; and
* to make regular progress reports to the Monitoring Committee on Implementation.
The Task Force on Implementation of the Recommendations of the SARS Expert Committee Report comprise representatives from the Health, Welfare & Food Bureau, Department of Health, and Hospital Authority as well as members from relevant government bureaux and departments. Members of the Monitoring Committee are SARS Expert Committee co-chairpersons Sir Cyril Chantler and Professor Sian Griffiths, members Prof Rosie Young and Prof Lee Shiu-hung, and legislator Dr Lo Wing-lok.
City of Life
October 8th, 2003, 03:24 PM
Sure win strategy to preserve our heritage
Unique antiques: Dr Louis Ng said heritage preservation is not easy in Hong Kong, so the private sector is being invited to redevelop historical buildings to help preserve them.
In recent years, the Government has become increasingly active in inviting the private sector to re-develop historical buildings for adaptive reuse, turning them into commercial or other viable ventures that can generate income while preserving our cultural heritage.
The Antiquities & Monuments Office says this is a win-win-win situation for the community, the private sector and the Government in the long run.
The Government spends large sums to maintain and manage historical buildings. Private-sector participation helps relieve this burden.
Next project, Tiger Balm Garden
After the former Marine Police Headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui, Lui Seng Chun is the second project engaging the private sector to preserve and redevelop buildings of historic significance. Another upcoming project will be the famous Tiger Balm Garden. Maintenance and renovation will start in 2004-05 for opening in 2006.
The successful bidder of the headquarters site has been granted a 50-year lease at a tendered price of $352.8 million for turning it into a heritage hotel for opening in 2007. About 315 jobs will be created in the construction stage, and another 500 in its operation.
The Government has long been leasing properties with historical and architectural value for commercial use. The coffee shop on the Peak and the Stanley Restaurant, for instance, were formerly the parking area for public and private sedan chairs as well as a police station.
From barracks to resource centre
The Antiques & Monuments Office's Executive Secretary Dr Louis Ng said it has traditionally played a role in heritage preservation, but in recent years, it has attached importance to enabling adaptive reuse of historical buildings. For example, the former Museum of History in Kowloon Park, which had been Witfield Barracks, is being converted into a heritage resource centre. Featuring exhibition facilities, a reference library, a lecture hall and an activities room, it will be partially opened in 2004. A formal opening will be held in late 2005.
Committed to improving policy tools
Heritage preservation is not an easy task in Hong Kong, Dr Ng said. Much of our invaluable heritage has vanished because of high land values, private ownership of land, the rapid pace of urbanisation and lack of incentives and compensation to induce owners' co-operation. "There is a need to make more effort to conserve our heritage," he said. Over the years, the community's awareness of heritage preservation has risen greatly and the Government has been asked to do more.
In response, the Home Affairs Bureau is conducting a heritage-preservation review to consult the public on the issue and improve policy tools.
To tie in with the heritage policy review, the office is surveying historic buildings to assess their historical and architectural value.
Focused protection for the best
From 1996 to 1998, the office conducted a Hong Kong-wide survey and identified 9,500 pre-war historical buildings.
"Now we are conducting another in-depth survey on the most important buildings for future focused protection," Dr Ng said. "We wish to have a better strategy to revitalise the historic buildings and retain their original historical character."
The preservation work has three major aspects: archaeology, historical buildings, and education and publicity.
Since 1976 when the office was set up, Hong Kong has protected 77 monuments, 59 of which were historical buildings. With the advice of the Antiquities Advisory Board, it has also identified more than 500 buildings as graded historical buildings.
City of Life
October 8th, 2003, 03:32 PM
HK to bid for ITU Telecom World 2006
Hong Kong will bid to host the International Telecommunication Union's Telecom World 2006 gathering.
The event will bring 100,000 overseas visitors to our shores, generating valuable business for our tourism and hospitality industries.
Exhibitors will engage supporting professional services, such as construction of exhibition booths, design, marketing, advertising and event management. The event will generate direct economic benefits amounting to $1.2 billion.
The estimated cost of hosting it is $70 million, covering the setting up of a secretariat office, organising receptions, providing hospitality services and undertaking publicity and marketing.
Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology John Tsang will arrive in Geneva on October 13 to attend ITU's Telecom World 2003, and lobby for support from the ITU and the industry to host the 2006 event. Mr Tsang will deliver a keynote address on opening up trade in telecoms.
An ideal venue
With the Mainland opening its information and communications technology market to Hong Kong companies under CEPA, and to the world under the WTO, we have the ideal venue for bringing together leading executives in the world's information and communications technology industry to explore market opportunities.
ITU Telecom World has never before been held outside Geneva. For Hong Kong, hosting the 2006 event would mean substantial economic benefits, as well as broader intangible benefits.
ITU Telecom World is the most prestigious gathering in global telecoms. It brings together leading experts from the public and private sectors, heads of state, ministers, regulators and CEOs of multinational corporations.
In 2000 and 2002, Hong Kong played host to ITU Telecom Asia.
The remarkable success of those events demonstrated beyond a doubt that Hong Kong has the infrastructural support and the high-quality hospitality services needed to host ITU Telecom World 2006.
City of Life
October 10th, 2003, 01:38 PM
Signs of rebound as rents surge 20pc at mega tower
Rents at Two IFC, Hong Kong's premier Grade-A office tower, rose by up to 20 per cent in the third quarter, real estate agents said.
More than half of the 88-storey mega tower is now leased, with 100,000 square feet being let since the signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa).
Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency executive director Victor Lui said rents had rebounded by 15 to 20 per cent, or HK$25 to HK$35 psf, in August and September.
Lui said the developers had also slashed rent-free period offers from up to six months to three months as the market strengthened.
Property consultant FPDSavills said investment bank UBS Warburg had agreed to lease six floors from the 47th to 52nd floors, an area of 146,000 sq ft, for 10 years.
On the overall grade-A office market, average rents fell 4 per cent in the third quarter, the smallest fall since the second quarter of 2001, senior director (research) Simon Smith said. ``Modest declines were noted across all business districts and reflect gradually improving sentiment which is helping to stabilise rents.''
Jones Lang LaSalle's head of research for Greater China, Nelson Wong, said grade-A office rents in Central had stabilised at HK$15 to HK$18 psf.
"The fall in grade-A office rents has narrowed to less than 10 per cent, from the average drop of over 10 per cent each quarter in recent years,'' Wong said. About 3 million square feet of Grade-A office space in Central is vacant, he said.
Wong expected rents would stabilise next year while FPDSavills' Smith predicted a pick-up in the second half of next year.
"With rents having fallen more aggressively than expected, we believe better economic conditions and the recent announcement of Cepa will stabilise rents in 2004,'' Chris Marriott, FPDSavills' deputy managing director said.
City of Life
October 11th, 2003, 04:51 AM
HK promoted in East Europe
Hong Kong's post-SARS dynamism has been showcased in St Petersburg, Moscow and Prague through a series of promotional events. They included a seminar, a photographic exhibition and cultural performances, led by Director-General of the HK Economic & Trade Office, London, Andrew Leung.
Addressing about 110 prominent businessmen at a seminar organised by the HK Trade Development Council in Prague yesterday, Mr Leung advised them to capitalise on the substantial business opportunities presented by CEPA. He said consensus on building the HK-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge will consolidate the competitive advantage of the Pearl River Delta region, which will be developed into one of the world's most vibrant economic hubs within the next decade.
Mr Leung said Hong Kong will continue to be the key to unlocking the full potential of the vast Mainland market for Eastern European businesses.
Supported by the Government, the HK City Contemporary Dance Company gave a week of performances in the three cities from October 4 to 9. Mr Leung said their debut performance there laid a milestone in establishing cultural ties between Hong Kong and East Europe.
City of Life
October 11th, 2003, 04:53 AM
No Stones for HK Harbour Fest
Rocks legends the Rolling Stones will be unable to play in Hong Kong next month due to scheduling difficulties.
Making the announcement tonight, InvestHK Director-General of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse said that while organisers are disappointed at the news, he hoped the Stones could play here at a later date.
Mr Rowse said although fees and arrangements had been finalised with the band, actual signing of contracts had been delayed due to scheduling difficulties. The Stones were due to play on the Mainland after their show at HK Harbour Fest.
Despite the setback, Mr Rowse said the festival will still be a mammoth event having attracted some of the world's top musical acts, such as Prince, Santana and Jose Carreras, along with many local and regional favourites.
City of Life
October 11th, 2003, 04:56 AM
Blood tests for SARS patients' close contacts
The Department of Health, working with the University of Hong Kong, will conduct a month-long study of blood serum from close contacts of SARS patients to assess the risk of SARS transmission to them.
The study will bring public health benefits and improve our understanding about the transmission properties of the SARS coronavirus.
Health department nurses will start to conduct telephone interviews with close contacts of SARS patients Monday. All interviewees will be invited for blood tests at the department's regional offices or elderly health service centres. Interviewees will get results of the blood tests after the study.
City of Life
October 11th, 2003, 05:01 AM
Dengue prevalence falls to 15%
Stay vigilant: Despite a 15% fall in the prevalence of Dengue-carrying mosquitoes, Dr Ho Yuk-yin urges people to continue taking precautionary measures against mosquito breeding.
The index measuring the prevalence of Dengue fever in Hong Kong fell to 15% last month, showing the effectiveness of the Government's enhanced anti-mosquito drive.
Announcing the monthly ovitrap index today, Food & Environmental Hygiene Department Consultant Dr Ho Yuk-yin said the figure was below the average monthly index of 19.5% for September over the past three years.
Operations in Kwai Chung strengthened
Only five districts recorded an ovitrap index of more than 20% in September compared to 12 in August.
"Since the detection of a local case of Dengue fever earlier this week, we have stepped up anti-mosquito operations at Kwai Chung Container Terminal, Yuen Kong Tsuen and neighbouring areas," he said. Noting Hong Kong is highly susceptible to further outbreaks with its warm and humid weather, Dr Ho warned people to remain vigilant at all times and take proper anti-mosquito measures.
"The fight against mosquitoes will not be successful without the full support of the public. Every member of the community must be alert and take necessary measures to eliminate the mosquito problem," Dr Ho said.
* Scrub vases and potted-plant saucers at least once a week;
* Dispose of containers such as soft drink cans or lunch boxes properly;
* Clear air-conditioner drip trays regularly; and,
* Drill holes in old tyres which are used as an anti-bumping device or unused.
Apart from strengthened anti-mosquito measures, the department conducted a high-rise building Dengue vector survey, the first of its kind in Hong Kong, earlier this year upon the advice of the World Health Organisation. Dr Ho said the survey has brought better understanding of the mosquito breeding situation in residential units.
website:Clean Hong Kong (http://www.info.gov.hk/cleanhongkong/en/index.html)
City of Life
October 11th, 2003, 05:09 AM
Central dredging, dumping under control
Minimal impact: The amount of contamination released from marine sediments during dredging for theCentral Reclamation Phase III project should be minimal.
Measures to control the environmental impact of dredging and dumping mud for the Central Reclamation Phase III project have been implemented.
The Environmental Protection Department said today the project has gone through the statutory environmental impact assessment process, and the public and the Advisory Council on the Environment have been consulted. The assessment concluded that with the implementation of the recommended mitigation measures, the amount of contamination released from marine sediments during dredging should be minimal and not result in any adverse impact on surrounding waters.
Minimising environmental impact
A monitoring and audit programme is in place to ensure that the environmental impact from the project is kept to within acceptable levels. The measures include providing silt curtains around the dredging sites, controlling the dredging rate, and using closed-grab dredgers. Contaminated mud will be disposed at special seabed pits at East Sha Chau using the confined aquatic disposal method. As the recent court hearing did not grant an injunction, the department expects no problem in issuing permits under the Dumping At Sea Ordinance for the disposal of contaminated mud.
No unacceptable impact detected
A long-term extensive environmental monitoring programme has been in place since the early 1990s. It consists of water quality, sediment and biota monitoring, together with a risk assessment on the impact on dolphins and humans. No unacceptable impact has been detected.
A Civil Engineering Department team is stationed at East Sha Chau to ensure strict disposal procedures and depth-filling levels are followed and observed.
The daily disposal rate is also regulated to ensure no impact from excessive dumping. Capping of the pit is practised to prevent dispersion of the contaminated mud.
Only specified vessels are allowed to carry out dumping. The barges are equipped with satellite-based Automatic Self-Monitoring Devices to prevent short dumping.
City of Life
October 11th, 2003, 05:18 AM
Golden Week visitors up 21%
About 287,000 Mainland visitors entered Hong Kong during the recent National Day Golden Week holiday, 21% more than last year.
Total passenger throughput at land-boundary checkpoints was 2.77 million, up 9.3% over the 2.53 million passengers last year.
Of these, about 1.98 million, a daily average of almost 250,000, passed through Lo Wu control point.
Passenger traffic at other checkpoints from September 30 to October 7 was smooth and orderly despite a substantial increase in the number of Mainland visitors.
The Individual Visit Scheme launched last July has allowed residents from various Mainland cities to visit Hong Kong. During this period, 76,152 individual visitors came to Hong Kong, representing a daily average of over 9,500. On October 1, the number of individual visitors reached a record high of 21,677, with the majority of them travelled through Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau.
Ensuring smooth passenger flow
To cope with the increases, the Immigration Department redeployed 335 officers from other divisions to reinforce its control points. Also the 50-member Emergency Response Team was mobilised on October 1.
On October 3, the Contra-Flow Scheme was implemented at Lo Wu to handle a drastic increase in departing passengers.
During the busiest hours, the number of departure counters increased from 76 to 109, enabling the processing of 23,826 passengers per hour.
The department was in close liaison with the Shenzhen authorities the entire time, to ensure smooth flow of passengers.
City of Life
October 11th, 2003, 05:22 AM
Views sought on future IT strategy
Public views are being sought on a draft 2004 Digital 21 Strategy, which proposes main areas of action with a view to promoting the use and development of IT in Hong Kong.
Comments should reach the Commerce, Industry & Technology Bureau by December 10.
Announcing the launch of public consultation at the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation luncheon today, Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology John Tsang noted that the first Digital 21 IT Strategy was published in 1998 and updated in 2001. Most of the initiatives have been successfully completed.
"To sustain the momentum created in the last five years and to harness the benefits of IT for business, the community and Hong Kong's position in the world, the Government has formulated a draft 2004 Digital 21 Strategy and would like to seek the input of the IT industry, business, academia and the public on how we should work together," he added.
The new strategy proposes eight main areas of action:
* government leadership;
* sustainable e-government programme;
* infrastructure and business environment;
* institutional review;
* technological development;
* a vibrant IT industry;
* human resources in a knowledge economy; and
* bridging the digital divide.
The full version of the draft is available from the Bureau's website: http://www.info.gov.hk/citb/
Another long article of similar objectives can be viewed here: Gov't keen to facilitate IT sector (http://www.news.gov.hk/en/category/ontherecord/031010/html/031010en11001.htm)
City of Life
October 11th, 2003, 05:58 PM
Residents urged to help eliminate mosquitoes
The Government is concerned that several residential areas including Kowloon Tong and Ho Man Tin recorded an ovitrap index of more than 20% in September. Speaking on a radio programme this morning, Food & Environmental Hygiene Department Consultant Dr Ho Yuk-yin said to rectify the situation, people must remain vigilant at all times and take proper measures to eliminate mosquitoes.
In view of the fact that construction sites are potential mosquito breeding places, the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department has stepped up its checks against these areas, he said.
Repeated offenders will be disqualified from tendering for government projects, he added.
Dr Ho stressed that the fight against mosquitoes will not be successful without the full support of the public, adding that they should enhance anti-mosquito measures. They should also remain alert when visiting southeast Asian countries, as Dengue fever is endemic there.
City of Life
October 11th, 2003, 06:01 PM
Relaunch campaign revives HK economy
The Relaunch Hong Kong campaign has revived the economy and helped the community return to normal after the SARS outbreak, Financial Secretary Henry Tang says.
He expected that total spending on relaunch activities will not exceed $1 billion, the amount set aside earlier for the campaign.
At this morning's Financial Affairs Panel meeting, he briefed legislators on the progress of the campaign, and outlined that the campaign has successfully promoted local and international confidence in Hong Kong.
It has also boosted tourism and local consumption, and attracted international businesses.
Members also noted that Rolling Stones will be unable to participate in Harbour Fest due to scheduling difficulties. Director-General of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse said this may affect the campaign's budget.
He revealed that Harbour Fest's organiser is considering having local top artists perform in the closing concerts, adding that a decision will be made next week at the latest.
City of Life
October 11th, 2003, 06:04 PM
Suen: Gov't committed to protecting harbour
Even keel: The Government will try to strike a balance between meeting transport needs and protecting the harbour when considering the way forward for Central Reclamation III.
The Government is committed to protecting the harbour and will only carry out reclamation works when necessary, Secretary for Housing, Planning & Lands Michael Suen says.
Speaking on radio talk shows this morning, Mr Suen said apart from the remaining reclamation works in Central and Wan Chai, there is no plan to further reclaim land along Hong Kong's north shore. The proposed South East Kowloon Development is now under review in accordance with the three requirements the High Court laid down earlier.
Mr Suen pointed out that since the enactment of the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance in 1997, the Government has studied in detail the scale of all proposed reclamation works to ensure that they comply with the law.
The Government will listen to public views on Central Reclamation III and try to strike a balance between meeting transport needs and protecting the harbour, he added.
City of Life
October 13th, 2003, 11:10 AM
September visitor figures up 8%
Fireworks finale: Financial Secretary Henry Tang, Secretary for Economic Development & Labour Stephen Ip, and the Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board Selina Chow at the launch of the last night of the international musical fireworks competition.
Tourism Board Chairman Selina Chow said the number of visitors in September was more than 1.47 million, representing an 8% of increase compared with the same period last year. This is a record for the month of Septmber, she added.
Meanwhile, Financial Secretary Henry Tang said the series of events held under the Economic Relaunch Programme has successfully enhanced Hong Kong's attractiveness as a major tourist destination.
Speaking at the Hong Kong International Musical Fireworks Competition Finale at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre tonight, Mr Tang said: "Judging from the response, I am sure that a lot of people have visited Hong Kong and also they have boosted our local consumption.
"These events were also staged for the local community to enjoy, to help restore confidence and in particular to stimulate the local economy. The results are plain to see."
To further capitalise on the world's tourist market, he said, the Government is continuing to push ahead with our major infrastructural developments, such as Hong Kong Disneyland, the Tung Chung Cable Car system and the Hong Kong Wetland Park, which are all scheduled for completion in 2005.
In the near term, Hong Kong will launch the spectacular Harbour Lighting Show in December.
All these projects will continue to enhance Hong Kong's attractiveness as a major tourist destination and maintain its competitive edge in the region.
City of Life
October 13th, 2003, 11:15 AM
HK a dragonfly haven
Hong Kong is a bustling business and commercial centre, but it is also home for a rich variety of colourful dragonflies.
With a total of area of only about 1,100 square kilometres, over 40% Hong Kong is designated as country park, containing more than 40,000 hectares of beautiful, unspoiled landscape.
Winged jewels: Rhipidolestes janetae, a dragonfly species endemic to Hong Kong; and two newly found species, Pseudagrion pruinosum fraseri and Cephalaeschna klotsi. (Pics: Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department)
Most adult dragonflies in Hong Kong can be found in early spring and summer inside these parks.
Keith Wilson, a well-recognised dragonfly expert in Hong Kong, said upland streams and a small number of ponds and wetlands in these country parks are ideal places for these insects.
19 rare species in Hong Kong
Mr Wilson said there are about 5,500 dragonfly species in the world - and 111 of them, including three endemic species, have been found in Hong Kong. Nineteen of them are considered "rare", 39 are "uncommon", 30 are "common" and 23 are "abundant" species.
Rare species are restricted to just one or two places. Uncommon ones are found at 3-10 sites. Common ones are recorded at 11-100 sites while abundant species are seen in more than 100 sites.
Mr Wilson left the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department earlier this month after more than 12 years there. He has made many interesting discoveries in the last 20 years and published a checklist of Hong Kong dragonflies in 1997, adding five more species to our list.
4 new species found
In 2001, the department established a dragonfly working group to focus on learning more about dragonflies and their conservation in Hong Kong.
Following extensive fieldwork, four more species were added to the local list, bringing the total number of dragonflies recorded in Hong Kong to 111.
The four newly found species - namely, Pseudagrion pruinosum fraseri, Anax nigrofasciatus nigrofasciatus, Cephalaeschna klotsi and Trithemis pallidinervis - can be seen in Lau Shui Heung, Ma On Shan, Ng Tung Tsai and HK Wetland Park and Kam Tin, respectively.
The three species endemic to Hong Kong are Rhipidolestes janetae, Melligomphus moluami and Macromidia ellenae.
Rhipidolestes janetae is a small, predominantly black species with a yellow face. There are several species of Rhipidolestes in southern China. Each species is usually known from one or two elevated mountain locations. It is rare and can be found in Shing Mun Country Park and Sunset Peak.
Little is known about Melligomphus moluami as it is uncommon. It can be found in Keung Shan on Lantau, Mount Butler, Tai Po Kau and Yuen Tun Ha.
Macromidia ellenae is also uncommon, although sightings have occurred on Double Island, Hok Tau, Hong Kong Island, Luk Keng, Sha Lo Tung and Sam Tam Lo.
Features of these species, their distributions and habitat preferences can be found in Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Hong Kong, written by Keith Wilson in collaboration with staff of the department.
Mr Wilson said he hoped the book will provide a reference for ecologists and anyone who is interested in the 'winged jewels' of Hong Kong.
City of Life
October 13th, 2003, 11:18 AM
Revised outline development plan out soon
A revised outline development plan will be tabled to the Town Planning Board and gazetted to state clearly that there are no other plans to reclaim the harbour apart from works at Central, Wan Chai and the proposed Southeast Kowloon Development.
This was the message from the Secretary for Housing, Planning & Lands Michael Suen in the Legislative Council today. He said studies have been conducted to explore the feasibility of reclaiming land at Tsuen Wan, Green Island, Tsim Sha Tsui East and Kowloon point.
However, the plans have been shelved after taking into account decelerated population growth and findings of a comprehensive review conducted earlier. Mr Suen said the Central Reclamation III has sparked heated discussions on harbour protection.
He said the Government accords high priority to harbour protection, adding that the project has been carried out in accordance to all necessary legal procedures.
As the project serves to ease traffic congestion in Central and Wan Chai, he hoped a consensus on the scale of reclamation can be reached as soon as possible.
City of Life
October 13th, 2003, 11:20 AM
Office to be set up to oversee bridge project
Site visit: Members of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Advance Work Coordination Group visit the various spots suggested as the bridge's landing points.
As a greater part of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge falls within the Mainland and most of the front end of the project involves a lot of administrative and approval procedures in the Mainland, a special office will be set up in Guangzhou to oversee the project, Secretary for the Environment, Transport & Works Dr Sarah Liao says.
Speaking after attending the second meeting of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Advance Work Coordination Group held today in Zhuhai, Dr Liao said the meeting had reached some concrete results, adding that a decision was also made to directly appoint a design institute in the Mainland to conduct the feasibility study and produce a report.
The criteria for selecting this institute is that it must have the technical know-how and relevant experience. It should also be familiar with the Pearl River Delta procedures, she added.
City of Life
October 19th, 2003, 05:27 PM
Moody's upgrades HK rating to A1
Moody's Investors Service's decision to upgrade Hong Kong's sovereign rating for long-term foreign currency by two notches from A3 to A1, has been welcomed by the Government.
Financial Secretary Henry Tang said the two-notch upgrade represented an important recognition of Hong Kong's distinct position and strengths under the One Country, Two Systems formula.
Moody's said the upgrade was prompted by our strong economic fundamentals and external sector, including the largest net international investment position as a percentage of GDP in the world.
It recognises that although Hong Kong and Mainland's ratings are linked, they do not necessarily have to be the same. This is because Hong Kong, unlike other subnational governments, has a separate currency, a different legal system, a lack of trade and capital account restrictions, and a taxation system that did not allow the Mainland to collect revenue in Hong Kong.
"The upgrade confirms the strong fundamentals and resilience of the Hong Kong economy, as demonstrated in our ability to withstand shocks in the last few years, including the Asian Financial Crisis and the SARS epidemic," Mr Tang said, adding that Hong Kong's economy is now firmly on the road to recovery.
"Going forward, increasing economic integration with the Mainland will present enormous business opportunities for Hong Kong, which will remain as the centre for intermediating trade, capital and knowledge into and out of the Mainland."
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 11:33 AM
HK, Norway sign tax agreement
Shipshape: Norway's State Secretary to the Ministry of Trade & Industry Helle Hammer and Secretary for Economic Development & Labour Stephen Ip sign the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement on shipping.
Hong Kong and Norway today signed an Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement on shipping.
The agreement will exempt ship owners from the two jurisdictions from paying tax levied on cargo loaded in the other country.
Secretary for Economic Development & Labour Stephen Ip and Norway's State Secretary to the Ministry of Trade & Industry Helle Hammer signed the document. Mr Ip said: "The agreement is beneficial to both Hong Kong and Norway ship owners. It also strengthens Hong Kong's status as an international shipping centre."
Hong Kong has similar double taxation relief arrangements with major trading partners like the Mainland, the US, the UK, Holland, New Zealand, South Korea and Germany.
Similar agreements are under discussion with other countries, like Greece, India and Belgium.
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 11:35 AM
HK business drive to launch in Montreal
The huge business opportunities Hong Kong offers Canadian companies under CEPA will be the focus of a major promotion running October 20 to 29 in Montreal. Organised by the HK Economic & Trade Office, Canada, with the support of the Montreal City Government, the HK & Montreal - A Developing Partnership campaign will further develop ties between the two jurisdictions.
The programme will feature a luncheon on business opportunities, and a large photo exhibition on Hong Kong's infrastructural plans. At the October 21 business luncheon, trade office Director Bassanio So will highlight the considerable business opportunities available in Hong Kong and the Mainland, especially in the Pearl River Delta region, and the advantages of partnering with Hong Kong to enter the Mainland market.
The luncheon will be followed by the opening ceremony for the Building a Dynamic Hong Kong photo exhibition, to be officiated by the Vice-President of the City of Montreal's Executive Committee Michel Prescott and Mr So.
The exhibition will showcase Hong Kong's ambitious plan to invest in 1,600 infrastructure projects in the next 10 years, which will present tremendous business opportunities for Canadian companies, especially those in the engineering, architectural, construction and landscaping sectors.
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 11:37 AM
Hong Kong to host securities conference in 2006
The International Organization of Securities Commissions has chosen Hong Kong to host the 31st Annual Conference of IOSCO in 2006 - providing an opportunity for Asia's world city to showcase its strengths as a financial centre, the Finanacial Secretary says.
Henry Tang said hundreds of overseas delegates, support staff and observers will visit Hong Kong during the week-long conference, tentatively scheduled for early June 2006. This will bring considerable economic benefit, and reinforce Hong Kong's international image.
"This will be a wonderful opportunity for Hong Kong to showcase to the world our strengths as an international financial centre and a premier fund-raising centre for the Mainland and the region," Mr Tang said.
He congratulated the Securities & Futures Commission on its efforts to bid for the conference, and wished it every success in hosting the international event.
IOSCO is the primary forum for international co-operation among securities regulators. It has 181 members from more than 100 jurisdictions. Members meet every year at the annual conference to discuss issues related to world securities and futures markets.
The announcement was made at the end of the IOSCO Annual Conference in Seoul this week. Jordan will host the event in 2004, and Sri Lanka in 2005.
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 11:42 AM
Investment seminars set for Seoul, Tokyo
Hong Kong and Guangdong will jointly organise seminars in Seoul on October 23 and in Tokyo on October 30 to woo investors.
The seminars, the first organised by both cities at the provincial level, will also update Seoul and Tokyo firms on our latest economic developments and investment environment.
The Seoul Seminar is expected to draw 400 to 500 participants while the Tokyo one will bring 800 to 1,000.
John Tsang, Henry Tang to lead delegations
Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology John Tsang will lead the team to Seoul, while Financial Secretary Henry Tang will head the delegation to Tokyo. Both will be keynote speakers at the seminars. Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua will lead the Guangdong delegation to both cities.
Seminar highlights include:
* business opportunities in the greater Pearl River Delta area;
* strengthening economic and trade links with South Korea and Japan; and,
* CEPA and its implications for Hong Kong and overseas companies.[/B]
Companies will be briefed on how they can benefit from CEPA and gain greater access to the Mainland market. Case studies of companies preparing themselves for the new opportunities under CEPA will also be presented.
CEPA boosting HK's attractiveness
InvestHK Director-General of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse said our infrastructure, business and cultural links with the Mainland are like nowhere else and the signing of CEPA has made us even more attractive. "If you want to combine an international business environment with immediate access to the Mainland, there simply isn't any match for Hong Kong. We also have the institutions, system, regulatory environment and people that will provide investors with all they need to be successful in China and the region," he said. "As a result, many international companies perform their management, finance, information, co-ordination and logistics activities in Hong Kong, while overseeing their low-cost manufacturing facilities and sales operations in the Pearl River Delta." HK Trade Development Council (Japan) Director Ralph Chow said Japanese companies have shown great interest in CEPA.
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 11:52 AM
FS: Change mindset to promote integration
Grasp the chance: Financial Secretary Henry Tang says CEPA has put Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta on the verge of a new cycle of growth and prosperity. While the Government will do its best to facilitate this process, businesses should make sure these opportunities germinate - and capture their potential.
To help in the integration of the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong people must change their mindset, Financial Secretary Henry Tang said today.
We must recognise that the boundary at Lo Wu ensures the integrity of 'one country, two systems' - but Hong Kong does not stop at that boundary, he said.
Speaking at the Second Pearl River Delta Conference at the Convention & Exhibition Centre today, Mr Tang noted that Macao and the mainland would today sign their own Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.
"The bridge that we will be building - the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge - is going to make leaps and bounds gains to bring us closer to our brothers just on the other side of the Pearl River estuary," he said.
Macau's CEPA to open up more oppportunities for HK
"I think the CEPA that they are going to sign will enhance the relationship between Macao, the Mainland and also Hong Kong. I believe there will be other opportunities that we could take advantage of after they have signed it."
He stressed that CEPA is an open and continuous process, and an open platform for businesses to capture the opportunities that are opening up to them - "an opportunity of a lifetime".
He repeated Premier Wen Jiabao's recent statement: "CEPA is not the Central People's Government's gift to Hong Kong. The Central People's Government's gift to Hong Kong was the 'One Country, Two Systems'. CEPA is a bilateral open channel to improve and to facilitate trade and investment between the Mainland and Hong Kong."
Business must capture the opportunities presented
The Government believes in market-driven economies, he said. "If the marketers can do it properly themselves, leave it to the market, we will not intervene in it. Our job is to open up markets, lay down the platform; but it is up to the businesses themselves to capture those opportunities."
Asked whether he thought the renminbi would go up or down or remain the same, the Financial Secretary said it would remain stable. "I cannot emphasise enough the importance of having a stable currency to enhance and promote trade, business and the stability of the whole country. So my outlook: Stable."
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 11:55 AM
US health producer sets up Asia-Pacific HQ in HK
Hong Kong's supportive environment for business and central location has attracted Dragon River, the American herbal health supplements manufacturer, to set up its Asia Pacific headquarters here.
Recognising that traditional Chinese medicine has significant potential in world markets, the company produces health drinks made from fruit grown in Guangxi Province, with Asia, the US and Europe its target markets.
It also has a complete line of traditional Chinese medical products which will be introduced over the next two years.
InvestHK Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion Simon Galpin welcomed Dragon River's investment decision. He said the company's move is a vote of confidence in Hong Kong's growing Chinese medicine industry.
"Dragon River will also be able to take advantage of the new CEPA arrangements which particularly benefit Chinese medicine companies, facilitating co-operation and exchange between Hong Kong and the Mainland," he said.
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 11:59 AM
$130m trust fund to aid SARS-affected families
The Government proposes to set up a trust fund for SARS-affected families with a one-off injection of $130 million, Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong says.
"The SARS outbreak earlier this year was unique and unprecedented. This was a major epidemic caused by a new virus and of proportions not seen in modern Hong Kong history," Dr Yeoh said. "It was a tragic incident and the Government fully symphathises with the plight of the patients and their family members. The Hospital Authority and the Social Welfare Department have been rendering support and assistance to the patients and families. The trust fund is part of our continuous effort to provide care and support."
The Social Welfare Department, for example, had contacted all families of the 299 deceased SARS patients to identify and address their needs for assistance. The department was providing support to 449 recovered SARS patients, with 286 through family service centres/integrated family service centres and 163 by medical social workers.
The special ex-gratia assistance would be provided on compassionate grounds to eligible applicants. They include:
* family members of those victims who died of SARS; and
* patients who recovered from SARS but still suffer from longer term effects, attributable to SARS, that may result in physical or psychological dysfunction, subject to medical proof and demonstrated financial need.
To be eligible, the SARS victims must have been Hong Kong residents who were infected with during the outbreak in Hong Kong from March to June this year. For families of deceased patients, the amount of special ex-gratia relief payments would be determined having regard to the dependent members involved.
Recovered patients' needs to be assessed on case-by-case basis
The special ex-gratia financial assistance for patients recovered from SARS would have to be considered on a case-by-case basis having regard to the attending doctors' assessment and the medical social workers' advice.
As it would take the Hospital Authority time to observe those who recovered from SARS to identify the likely types of longer term effects, a certain sum would be earmarked for this group to provide a buffer that may be used to cater for contingencies as more medical knowledge is gained.
The application and processing procedure would be made as simple as possible. The details would be announced after funding support approval has been obtained from the Legislative Council's Finance Committee. The Administration aims to seek this approval in November.
Social Welfare to set up team to support fund's operations
The Social Welfare Department will set up a core team to support the operations of the trust fund and oversee the follow-up support services for the SARS-affected families, Dr Yeoh said.Apart from financial support, Dr Yeoh said the department and the Hospital Authority, together with non-governmental organisations, would continue to work closely to provide support services to the family members of the deceased SARS patients and the recovered SARS patients.
The authority was inviting all recovered SARS patients to have a check of their physical and psychological well-being, and then helping them through appropriate rehabilitation programmes. The welfare department would take this opportunity to assess the patients' psychosocial wellness to identify any further needs for referral to appropriate services such as counselling.
Dr Yeoh said relevant Legislative Council panels will be briefed on details of the package of support services, including the trust fund for SARS, on Monday.
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 12:02 PM
Be sure to get rocking with the Rolling Stones
Satisfaction guaranteed: Rock legends the Rolling Stones will play their classic hits at HK Harbour Fest on November 7 and 9.
Tickets are selling fast for the two Rolling Stones concerts at HK Harbour Fest on November 7 and 9, so be sure to pick up yours soon.
The rock legends play alongside a star-studded line-up of world-class performers such as Craig David, Jose Carreras, Charlotte Church, Santana, Westlife, Air Supply, the Gipsy Kings, Neil Young, Michelle Branch, t.A.T.u, Atomic Kitten, Twins, Eason Chan, Ronald Cheng and Gigi Leung.
The festival opened last night with a fantastic funky performance by Prince who played all his classic hits. It runs to November 9.
Tickets for the Stones¡¦ shows are priced from $1,988 to $288 and are available through HK Ticketing outlets.
Bookings can also be made through the ticket hotline 31 288 288, or the website www.hkticketing.com, as well as at all ESD Life Kiosks.
For VIP corporate group bookings, contact email@example.com.
For regular updates on the festival, visit www.hkharbourfest.com.
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 12:06 PM
Hiking Festival kicks off in November
Hong Kong has a lot of beautiful scenery, but hiking under a hot sun may be too demanding for some. Now that autumn has arrived with cooler temperatures, walking grows in popularity as an enjoyable family outing.
The SARS outbreak made Hong Kong people appreciate the importance of leisure and recreational activities - and hiking has become the No. 1 outdoor pursuit.
Hikers' paradise:Shing Mun, Ngong Ping in Ma On Shan and High Island Reservoir are but some of the attractive spots for hikers.
To meet the increasing demand, the Agriculture, Fisheries& Conservation Department recently published the "Walkers' Companion" introducing 50 walking trails in its 23 country parks.
The booklet provides details and maps of different routes, as well as details on how to get there.
Guided tours part of the Hiking Festival
To promote these routes, the department will organise the Hiking Festival with free guided walks from November through February.
The Festival features three walks:
* November 9, to Tai Tam;
* December 6, to Po Pin Chau; and
* December 7, to Tai Long Wan.
Application for participation in the Festival takes place from October 21 to 24. Participants who finish a complete trail will get a badge as a souvenir of their achievement. There will be 3,000 places for each walk and enrollment will be done on a first-come-first-served basis.
Applications can be made at the following locations:
* Lobby, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices (9am to 6pm, Tuesday to Friday)
* Cosmos Books Ltd, 30 Johnston Road, Wanchai
* Cosmos Books Ltd, G/F, 96 Nathan Road, Tsimshatsui
* 3/F, Fou Wah Centre, 210 Castle Peak Road, Tsuen Wan
* Commercial Press, Shop 212-215, Tai Wo
Shopping Mall, Tai Wo (noon to 7pm from Tuesday to Friday for the last four locations).
Join the free walks
A free walk takes place on 12 Sundays from November through February. Application is not required and those who are interested can join walks as scheduled in the "Walkers Companion".
The "Walkers' Companion" divides the territory into six regions, each assigned with a colour with eight walking trails.
Those who can complete at least one trail in every colour route will be awarded a certificate. If they complete at least two trails in each colour area, they will receive a premium certificate.
For event dates and other details of the Hiking Festival and free walk, please refer to the "Walkers Companion" and its website. Enquiries can be made at 2422 9431
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 12:10 PM
Electronic road fees revisited to ease traffic jams
A revised outline development plan will be tabled to the Town Planning Board and gazetted to state clearly that there are no other plans to reclaim the harbour apart from works at Central, Wan Chai and the proposed Southeast Kowloon Development.
This was the message from the Secretary for Housing, Planning & Lands Michael Suen in the Legislative Council today.
He said studies have been conducted to explore the feasibility of reclaiming land at Tsuen Wan, Green Island, Tsim Sha Tsui East and Kowloon point.
However, the plans have been shelved after taking into account decelerated population growth and findings of a comprehensive review conducted earlier. Mr Suen said the Central Reclamation III has sparked heated discussions on harbour protection.
He said the Government accords high priority to harbour protection, adding that the project has been carried out in accordance to all necessary legal procedures.
As the project serves to ease traffic congestion in Central and Wan Chai, he hoped a consensus on the scale of reclamation can be reached as soon as possible.
Advisory Council on Environment supports project
In a separate development, the Advisory Council on the Environment today discussed the Central Reclamation III. Secretary for Environment, Transport & Works Dr Sarah Liao said the council's position on the project has not changed, adding that the decision has been made to balance the needs of society in terms of social and economic development as well as minimisation of environmental impact. She also shared members' views that apart from building roads, traffic management measures can be used to ease traffic jams.
In this regard, the Government is revisiting the use of electronic road pricing in controlling traffic flow.
Public acceptability will be considered
Dr Liao said modern technology may have overtaken the issue of privacy, and hoped that the public, including legislators, related organisations and the Transport Advisory Committee, will explore this traffic control measure.
As the measure is rather controversial, Dr Liao said there will be extensive consultation.
The Government will also make reference to other cities, for example London and Singapore, and take into account public acceptability when studying the feasibility of this measure, she add
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 12:13 PM
IT infrastructure ensuring e-security
The security of electronic transactions will be ensured by constant enhancement of Hong Kong's information security infrastructure, Director of Information Technology Services Alan Wong says.
Speaking at the opening seminar of the Information Systems Security Association's Hong Kong Chapter today, Mr Wong said the Government has placed great emphasis on maintaining a high level of information security. The Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) was established with an aim to setting up an architectural framework for secure e-business.
The use of digital certificates, founded on PKI technology, enables users to conduct secure e-transactions and applications over the Internet, such as confidential email exchanges, Government electronic services and legally-binding business transactions.
The new multi-application smart identity card, which can store a digital certificate, is an initiative to promote the use of PKI. Mr Wong said that over time, the number of digital certificate users in Hong Kong will greatly increase and create more opportunities for value-added applications as well as the development of e-government and e-business.
To lead by example, the Government is making use of digital certificates and PKI in a variety of applications to ensure secure internal and external e-transactions.
These include its confidential email system and the Electronic Service Delivery Scheme where the people can secure certain public service transactions by attaching digital signatures.
Electronic Transactions Ordinance under review
In 2000, the Government enacted the Electronic Transactions Ordinance, giving electronic records and digital signatures the same legal status as their paper-based counterparts.
The ordinance also provides for a voluntary recognition scheme on the operation of certification authorities, which aims to enhance public confidence in using digital certificates.
The Government is reviewing the ordinance to ensure that Hong Kong has the most up-to-date legislative framework for e-business. An amendment bill was submitted to the Legislative Council in June this year, following extensive consultation with the industry and relevant parties.
As for information security in Government bureaux and departments, Mr Wong said an IT security policy has been promulgated and users are provided with guidelines, news and updates.
The Government supported the establishment of the HK Computer Emergency Response Team Co-ordination Centre in February 2001, which has greatly enhanced Hong Kong's capability to respond to information security incidents and to access relevant information.
The Inter-departmental Working Group on Computer Related Crime has been set up to improve existing measures to tackle computer crimes. The working group's recommendations are under implementation.
As public education plays a key role in raising security awareness and promoting ethical practice, the Infosec website (www.infosec.gov.hk) was set up last year to provide public access to information security resources and updates.
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 02:18 PM
CEPA benefits investors in Mainland
Room for negotiation: Elsie Leung says Hong Kong will stand as an ideal arbitration centre for international investors involved in business disputes in the Mainland.
The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement enhances co-operation between Hong Kong and Mainland lawyers, so that local and foreign investors in the Mainland market will be better served by lawyers of both jurisdictions. This was the message from Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung at a conference on International Dispute Resolution today. She noted that the development of the Pearl River Delta, China's accession to the World Trade Organisation, and the CEPA had offered unprecedented opportunities for international businesses and investors.
Inevitably, some business and investment deals would lead to disputes between the parties and international businesspeople had a choice of where the dispute resolution was to take place
Hong Kong offers many advantages
Hong Kong offers extremely competitive services in respect of international dispute resolution, she said. Hong Kong's judiciary, International Arbitration Centre, and independent legal profession were known to be of an international standard.
She said that Hong Kong lawyers have following advantages:
* an international perspective, providing high quality professional services;
*the ability to communicate in English, Cantonese or Putonghua; and
* a good understanding of the operation of the Mainland market.
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 02:23 PM
Jobless rate falls to 8.3%
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined from 8.6% in the June-August period to 8.3% in the July-September period, while the underemployment rate fell from 4% to 3.6%.
Comparing July-September with June-August, decreases in the unemployment rate were observed in many of the major economic sectors, including the retail trade, amusement and recreational services, manufacturing, restaurants/hotels, transport, real estate and sanitary services. As to the underemployment rate, decreases were concentrated in foundation and superstructure construction, hotels, transport and sanitary services.
The total labour force decreased by around 17,700, from 3,510,700 in the June-August period to 3,493,000 in the July-September period.
Yet total employment had a smaller decrease, by around 6,300 - from 3,201,300 to 3,195,000 between the two periods.
The number of unemployed persons decreased by around 12,400, from 309,400 in the June-August period to 297,000 in the July-September period. At the same time, the number of underemployed persons went down by around 14,500, from 141,500 to 127,000.
FS welcomes the downward trend
Welcoming the downward trend, Financial Secretary Henry Tang said the improvement is a combination of influx of tourists and further improvement of the economy. Mr Tang said many of the new vacancies received came from new employers, in particular small- and medium- sized enterprises. As Hong Kong's economy is undergoing a structural change, he said, unemployment will continue to be a challenge. He pledged he will continue to find ways to increase the job opportunities, in particular to help teenagers and the middle-aged to find jobs. As long as our economy continues to improve, he is cautiously optimistic that the job market will also improve.
City of Life
October 20th, 2003, 02:28 PM
Cathay Pacific wins top travel trade awards
Cathay Pacific Airways has won three key awards in the World Travel Awards held in New York. As well as taking the "Asia's Leading Airline" title, the airline also carried off the "World's Leading First Class" and "World's Leading Use of Inflight Technology" awards. This is the fourth consecutive year that Cathay Pacific has won in the Asia's leading airline category since 2000. The airline also won in the World's Leading First Class category last year.
The World Travel Awards, billed as the premier global awards event in the travel industry calendar, have been running for 10 years. This year's ceremony was attended by 500 leading lights from the travel industry at The Plaza Hotel on 13 October.
The awards are decided by votes cast by travel professionals from 80,000 travel agencies in over 200 countries.
Cathay Pacific General Manager Corporate Communication Alan Wong said: “We are delighted to receive such high praise from the travel trade. The awards reflect our commitment to our passengers and product excellence. Congratulations and thanks are due every member of our staff whose hard work made these awards possible.”
More information regarding the World Travel Awards can be found at www.worldtravelawards.com
City of Life
October 23rd, 2003, 12:07 PM
HK to host WTO conference
Hong Kong is set to host the World Trade Organisation's 6th Ministerial Conference. The move was accepted unanimously by WTO members at their General Council meeting today.
Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology John Tsang welcomed the decision saying it is a strong vote of confidence in Hong Kong.
"It is also a reflection of the WTO's appreciation of Hong Kong's constructive and active participation in the organisation," Mr Tsang said, adding the Government will do its best to stage a conference that is successful in both substantive and logistical terms.
"We will work out the detailed requirements for the conference with the WTO secretariat and draw up a detailed budget for examination by the Legislative Council, which has earlier given in-principle approval for Hong Kong to host the conference. We will strike a balance between being an effective host and deployment of limited resources."
Timing of the next conference is yet to be finalised.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 05:28 PM
Record number of regional HQs set up in HK
According to a Government survey, Hong Kong remains the location of choice for international companies to manage their regional operations. The number of regional headquarters here reached 966 - an all-time high. In addition, both regional and local offices have registered increases - despite the outbreak of SARS and the difficult economic situation regionally and internationally.
As at June 2, Hong Kong was home to 966 regional headquarters and 2,241 regional offices of companies incorporated overseas, compared with 948 and 2,171 respectively in the same period last year.
Director-General of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong Mike Rowse was delighted with the survey's outcome.
He said the fact that the number of regional headquarters and regional offices in Hong Kong has continued to increase demonstrates that Hong Kong's economy is on track for recovery.
Regional headquarter numbers reach record high
It is also encouraging to see that the number of regional headquarters has risen to an all-time high, despite SARS' adverse impact and difficult regional and global economic conditions, he added. "We are having our best year ever in terms of the number of completed projects we have assisted," he said.
"Our discussions with companies and enquiries from prospective investors suggest this favourable trend will continue, including that in such high-profile and consumer-sensitive areas as the luxury retail sector." Mr Rowse said the signing of CEPA also creates considerable potential for Hong Kong to strengthen its position as a centre for value-added manufacturing and high quality services for the China market. He expects this will attract more companies to invest here and increase their presence in Hong Kong.
Low, simple tax system cited as favourable factor
The largest proportion of survey respondents - 71% - saw Hong Kong's low and simple tax system as a favourable factor.
This was followed by the free flow of information (68%); absence of exchange controls (68%); communication, transport and other infrastructure (67%); and geographical location (65%).
Some of the less favourable factors they cited were the cost and availability of residential accommodation (37%); cost and availability of business accommodation (28%); and cost and availability of staff (25%). About 53% of the companies considered that Hong Kong's overall business environment as a location for setting up regional headquarters and regional offices had deteriorated compared with the previous year. Over half of the companies indicated that their views on the overall business environment were affected by the outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong and the region earlier on.
US has highest number of regional HQ here
The United States topped the list of countries with companies having regional headquarters in Hong Kong.
A total of 242 American companies had regional headquarters in Hong Kong in 2003. This was followed by Japan, with 168 companies, and the United Kingdom, with 86 companies.
The major lines of business of the regional headquarters in Hong Kong were wholesale, retail and import/export trades; and business services. Other major lines of business included finance and banking; manufacturing; and transport and related services.
US has most regional offices here, too
As in the case of regional headquarters, the United States also topped the list of countries with companies having regional offices in Hong Kong. A total of 498 American companies had regional offices in Hong Kong in 2003. Japan was next, with 442 companies, followed by the United Kingdom, with 196 companies.
The major lines of business of the regional offices in Hong Kong were wholesale, retail and import/export trades; and business services. According to the survey, there were a total of 2,207 local offices in Hong Kong of companies incorporated outside Hong Kong as at June 2. The corresponding number as at June 1, 2002 was 1,748. A local office is an office that solely takes charge of the business in Hong Kong on behalf of its parent company outside Hong Kong.
Japan has highest number of local offices in HK
Japan topped the list of countries with companies having local offices in Hong Kong. A total of 390 Japanese companies had local offices in Hong Kong in 2003. The United States was next, with 381 companies, followed by the mainland of China, with 307 companies.
The major lines of business of the local offices in Hong Kong were also wholesale, retail and import/export trades; and business services.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 05:31 PM
Arrivals number hits record high
A record high of nearly 400,000 arrivals was seen in the first week of October, showing Hong Kong's tourism industry is recovering well.
Secretary for Economic Development & Labour Stephen Ip said arrivals were up 6% over the same period last year.
Speaking at the HK Luncheon for World Tourism Organisation delegates in Beijing today, Mr Ip said there are a few key developments that have helped the revival. The most important is that residents of eight cities in Guangdong, as well as Shanghai and Beijing, are now able to visit Hong Kong without having to join tour groups.
Mainlanders apply under individual visit scheme
Since the introduction of the new Individual Visit Scheme in July, over 460,000 Mainlanders have applied for individual travel permits and over 200,000 of them have visited so far.
The scheme will be extended to the whole of Guangdong next May.
Mr Ip said the impact of SARS is fading and we are on the road to recovery.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 05:32 PM
HK, Shanghai to hold economic meeting
Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa and other Government officials will hold an economic and trade co-operation conference with a delegation led by Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng next week.
Concrete measures to strengthen economic and trade ties between the two cities will be discussed.
The Shanghai delegation will visit Hong Kong from October 26 to 28 at the invitation of the HK Government for discussions under the framework of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. While in Hong Kong, the delegation will also meet with the business sector and look at various aspects of our economic development.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 05:35 PM
Mainland business procedures to be streamlined
To cope with the implementation of CEPA, a number of measures will be taken to streamline complicated administrative procedures local businessmen have to go through when doing business on the Mainland.
Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology John Tsang told legislators today that the Government and Mainland customs have established a computer link and an electronic data exchange mechanism.
Goods entering the Mainland will be released once information on Certificates of HK Origin matches the data the Government has already transmitted, thus enhancing the efficiency of customs clearance for goods enjoying zero-tariff preference.
He said the Trade & Industry Department has set up a designated CEPA branch to provide one-stop HK Service Supplier certification services for all 18 service sectors.
Proposals forwarded to Mainland officials
Mr Tsang said the Government notes there are areas in Mainland law and regulations in which the trade may wish to seek clarification. The Government has already conveyed these questions in detail to Mainland authorities, and relevant policy bureaux and departments It is proposing to the Mainland to set up designated enquiry points and one-stop service counters for individual service sectors in responsible ministries and departments to answer questions Hong Kong companies may have in relation to doing business in the Mainland, as well as to facilitate relevant applications.
Mr Tsang said the Government will continue to exchange views with the relevant Mainland authorities on the issues related to its foreign exchange control, a policy adopted by the Mainland with regard to the overall status of its economic development.
Foreign exchange controls relaxed
Mainland authorities have reassessed their exchange control measures and introduced some relaxation as appropriate. "Mainland authorities have gradually relaxed foreign exchange controls in recent years," Mr Tsang said. "They have gradually simplified the application procedures for foreign exchange transactions in recent years, facilitating more flexible transfer of funds." On the integration and co-operation of financial markets in Hong Kong and the Mainland, Mr Tsang said authorities on both sides have maintained constant contact and reflected their views on the market.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 05:42 PM
New fiscal targets set as economy rebounds
Financial Secretary Henry Tang, cautiously optimistic that the economy has bottomed out, has revised upward the forecast of GDP growth for 2003 to 3% from around 2%, he told the Legislative Council today. Hong Kong's export trade performance remained strong during the SARS outbreak, he said, and exports of goods and services continue to grow. A strong rebound in visitor arrivals, retail sales and local consumption sentiments is also encouraging, as are signs of easing off in unemployment and deflation.
http://www.news.gov.hk/en/category/businessandfinance/031022/html/031022p033jpg.jpg Balancing act: A visible upswing in economic activity and sentiment over the past month or two has given Financial Secretary Henry Tang room for cautious optimism that the economy has bottomed out. The latest forecast is for the economy to grow by around 3% for 2003, while the administration is determined to bring government spending down to $200 billion by 2008-09 and to boost revenues to $200 billion by then, too.
The Financial Secretary told lawmakers the GDP trend growth rate has also been raised by half a percentage point, to 3.5% for the medium term, on the back of further reform and opening up in the Mainland market.
New target for balanced budget: 2008-09
The Financial Secretary has set a new target to achieve a balanced budget: 2008-09. He said the Administration is determined to control government operating expenditure and to bring it down to $200 billion by 2008-09. He also aims to attain $200 billion recurrent revenue by the same year. The Government committed in the 2003 Budget to balance the budget by 2006-07. However, since the SARS outbreak wreaked havoc with the economy after the 2003 budget was passed, Mr Tang said the day he was appointed Financial Secretary that the deadline was no longer realistic.
"In response to views expressed both within and outside this chamber, I believe that we should allow ourselves two more years to achieve that objective, by 2008-09," he said.
"The discussions I have had with various groups and sectors over the past two and a half months have led me to believe that the community also favours giving the economy some more room to breathe in the next year or two."
Containing public expenditure key
Mr Tang says he expects the fiscal deficit for 2003-04 will rise to $78 billion - plus or minus $5 billion - compared with a deficit of $68 billion forecast in the 2003 budget. The revision takes into account not only the negative impact of SARS, but also "the more positive signs emerging over the past couple of months".
The Government remains committed to bringing public expenditure to 20% of GDP or below and Mr Tang agrees with the community's view that the Government should look at ways to cut spending before it looks for ways to increase revenue.
Mr Tang told lawmakers that starting from 2004-05, the government's operating expenditure would be cut by an average of less than 2.5% a year, culminating in an 11% cut over five years.
Moderate cuts will balance different policy requirements
He stressed that the cuts were moderate and were not uniform across all policy bureaux. He preferred a pragmatic and measured approach, balancing the requirements of different policy areas. Principal Officials have the full discretion to set spending priorities within their envelopes, and to conduct functional reviews across their programme areas. The Government will continue to invest in infrastructure projects, Mr Tang noted. "Hong Kong has an enviable reputation for world-class infrastructure and we will need to upgrade this continually if we are to live up to our positioning as Asia's world city," he said.
He indicated that the Government would explore alternative sources of funds, such as disposal of government assets and issuance of bonds, to fund capital projects that would bring long-term economic benefits to Hong Kong.
Boundary Facilities Improvement Tax scrapped - for now
The Government has already secured nearly $13 billion of the $14 billion it proposed in the 2003 budget, he said. The outstanding $1 billion was meant to come from the proposed Boundary Facilities Improvement Tax. However, its introduction is to be postponed, he announced, because "the public is not yet ready to accept this tax".
While a broad-based consumption tax is a reasonable and equitable way to smooth out the bumps in Government's revenue stream, the Financial Secretary said he would not contemplate introducing such a tax during a deflationary environment.
Revitalising economy Number 1 task
Mr Tang sees revitalising Hong Kong's economy as his principal and immediate task. He believes an improved business environment will encourage more investment and help create more and better job opportunities for workers in all sectors.
"The free market has been the bedrock of Hong Kong's success," he said, noting that the Government's role should be to facilitate the market and its development - as it has done through signing the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement with the Mainland.
"'Big market, small government' is certainly the right way to go," he said. "We should capitalise on the quality of our market and services and position ourselves as a centre of excellence, not just for Asia but for the whole world."
Hong Kong's success is buttressed by a sound institutional framework - the rule of law upheld by an independent judiciary, a level playing field for business, the free flow of information, and a clean, efficient Administration, he said.
Consultation for 2004-05 budget to begin soon
He places high emphasis on transparency in the policy formulation process. "We must also provide business with policy consistency and predictability so that informed, long-term business decisions can be made without fear of arbitrary change next week, or next month, or next year." The Government will soon begin a formal consultation for the 2004-05 budget. Mr Tang said he would consult the community widely to ascertain people's aspirations and priorities to devise effective measures to tackle the economic challenges.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 05:45 PM
CPI falls 3.2% in September
Consumer prices were down 3.2% in September compared a year earlier, and the figure was distinctly smaller than the 3.8% fall the month before.
The narrowed year-on-year decline in the Composite Consumer Price Index in September was mainly attributable to renewed increases in the price of fresh vegetables and women's clothes, and in package tour charges.
Also contributing was the moderated decline in charges for telephone and other communications services, the Census & Statistics Department said.
Progressive pick-up in overall economy
The Government notes that by September, overall consumer prices had declined for almost five years. Yet the fall has narrowed over the last couple of months, with a progressive pick-up in overall economic activity.
This reversed the widening decrease seen earlier in the year, mainly upon the impact of SARS. The decrease will narrow further in the near term, when the dampening effect on the CPI brought about by the rates concession and the waiver of water and sewage charges will dissipate by October and December respectively.
Housing sees biggest decline
Amongst the various CPI components, housing continued to register the largest year-on-year decline in prices in September (-8.1% in the Composite CPI and -6.8% in the CPI(A)).
This was followed by durable goods (-6.1% in the Composite CPI and -5.8% in the CPI(A)), miscellaneous services (-2.8% in the Composite CPI and -3.0% in the CPI(A)), meals bought away from home (-1.5% in the Composite CPI and -1.1% in the CPI(A)), food (excluding meals bought away from home) (-0.9% in the Composite CPI and -0.6% in the CPI(A)), clothing and footwear (-0.6% in the Composite CPI and -0.8% in the CPI(A)), and transport (-0.1% in the Composite CPI and -0.6% in the CPI(A)).
However, year-on-year price increases were recorded in September for miscellaneous goods (2.8% in the Composite CPI and 1.3% in the CPI(A)), and electricity, gas and water (1.0% in both the Composite CPI and CPI(A)).
Alcohol and tobacco prices rose by 0.1% in the Composite CPI but remained unchanged in the CPI(A).
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 05:48 PM
Download select stats reports for free
To mark the second anniversary of the Hong Kong's online statistical bookstore, selected publications can be downloaded for free until the end of December, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.
Publications available for free download include:
* Hong Kong Economic Trends;
* Hong Kong Population Projections 2002 - 2031;
* Balance of Payment Statistics of Hong Kong 1997 to 1999;
* Report on Quarterly Survey of Restaurant Receipts & Purchases;
* Report on Monthly Survey of Retail Sales;
* Quarterly Business Receipts Indices for Service Industries; and
* Report on Quarterly Business Tendency Survey.
Users can go to the "Statistical Bookstore, Hong Kong" through http://www.statisticalbookstore.gov.hk or through the ESDlife website at http://bookstore.esdlife.com.
The promotion is sponsored by ESD Services Ltd, the operator of the ESD Scheme which hosts the online statistical bookstore.
Users can also enjoy a 25% discount on the purchase of other selected statistical publications - in print or softcopy format - at the "Statistical Bookstore, Hong Kong" until the end of February.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 05:53 PM
Students clamour to take English proficiency test
More than 8,700 final-year university students have applied to take an international English-language proficiency test, an increase of nearly 20% over last year.
The University Grants Committee said that after the successful launch of the Common English Proficiency Assessment Scheme last year, 7,300 final-year students participated in the International English Language Testing System.
The committee sees the increase as encouraging. Since it is a voluntary scheme, it demonstrates that the students attach importance to their English proficiency. A round of registration was carried out from mid-September to mid-October. The testing sessions will be run from November this year to May next year.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 05:56 PM
HK takes 3-pronged approach to prevent SARS
After the SARS outbreak, the Ministry of Health and the health authorities of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau have strengthened exchange and collaboration in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, the Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food said in a joint meeting in Macau today.
He stressed though, that while SARS has been brought under control, we cannot rule out the possibility of its return.
Speaking at the Second Joint Meeting of Senior Health Officials of the Mainland, Hong Kong & Macau, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong added: "From the experiences we have gained, we know we need to strengthen our prevention and control work to better prepare ourselves against SARS and other infectious diseases."
A checklist of measures to combat SARS was issued last month suggestions for improvement are welcome, he added.
The checklist reflects the Government's three-pronged approach:
* It has put in place comprehensive and cross-community disease preventive measures to guard against the resurgence of the disease;
* It maintains a close and effective disease surveillance system; and
* It has contingency plans to deal with the possible resurgence of SARS at all levels to combat the disease swiftly and responsively.
"We will also take positive steps to implement, as quickly as possible, the 46 recommendations put forward by the SARS Committee which embody a comprehensive range of measures to enhance the preparedness of Hong Kong against SARS," Dr Yeoh said. A task force will implement the recommendations and make progress reports to the monitoring committee. All urgent tasks to guard against SARS are already in place, he noted.
Hong Kong has also stepped up monitoring of medical regulatory requirements to protect and promote the health of the community. Two consultation documents, "Regulatory control of medical equipment" in July and "Regulatory control of health claims" in September, seek the industry's views.
New tobacco-control measures aim to protect public health while enforcement action has been stepped up to ensure food hygiene.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 05:58 PM
AIDS prevalence remains low in HK
HIV prevention: Director of Health Dr Lam Ping-yan delivers a speech at the Training Workshop on Methadone Treatment for HIV Prevention.
Although the HIV epidemic is growing in Asia, the prevalence remains low in Hong Kong.[ Director of Health Dr Lam Ping-yan said today our methadone treatment programme is a big feature of the harm-reduction strategy for Hong Kong's drug users.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Training Workshop on Methadone Treatment for HIV Prevention at Lam Woo International Conference Centre, Dr Lam said about 250 new infections are reported each year.
[B]"The prevalence, however, has remained low at less than 0.1% in the adult population, and injection drug use accounts for less than 3% of the reported infections," he said.
"Compared to the worsening HIV situation in many Asian countries, we take comfort that Hong Kong has benefited from the methadone treatment programme."
Clinics working well
He said Hong Kong's network of 20 methadone clinics has been fulfilling its public health objective through the establishment of an HIV surveillance system, introduction of behavioural surveillance, organisation of health promotion activities including condom distribution, and the provision of effective means of disease prevention.
"With the support of the HK AIDS Trust Fund and UNAIDS, the department established the Red Ribbon Centre to share experience with counterparts around the world, particularly Southeast Asia and the Mainland."
Up to the second quarter of 2003, the cumulative total number of reported HIV infections here since 1984 was 2,116, of which only 56 infections were related to needle sharing by drug users.
Urine testing may be expanded to methadone clinics
A pilot project on universal HIV urine testing aimed at early diagnosis and treatment of HIV-infected patients was launched by the department in July.
Subject to evaluation of the results of the project, HIV urine testing may be extended to all methadone clinics to make the methadone treatment programme even more effective for AIDS surveillance and prevention in Hong Kong.Attended by 100 representatives from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Mainland, Hong Kong, Nepal, Vietnam and the US, the three-day workshop is organised by the United Nations Regional Task Force on Drug Use & HIV Vulnerability.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 06:00 PM
WHO: HK not a high-risk SARS area
The Department of Health and the World Health Organisation have confirmed that Hong Kong is not at high risk of a SARS resurgence.
Despite this, the Government said Hong Kong is fully prepared for any possible SARS comeback and has adopted the highest vigilance to detect the virus.
The department said a heightened SARS surveillance system has been implemented, along with comprehensive contingency measures against the disease. Hong Kong has an advanced laboratory capacity to test for SARS. The Public Health Laboratory Centre provides a free lab and public health consultation service to the medical sector. While Hong Kong had local transmission of SARS during the outbreak earlier this year, it was not identified as a source.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 06:03 PM
Views sought on higher hygiene penalties
A one-month public consultation on the proposed penalties for repeat hygiene offenders has been launched. It seeks views on whether community service orders should be imposed on repeat offenders.
Following the SARS outbreak the fixed penalty for hygiene offences increased to $1,500 and has generally proved effective in curbing such bad habits.
However, there are still some repeat offenders who continue to ruin Hong Kong's environment and risk public health. Since the introduction of the fixed penalty system in June last year, there have been 382 repeat offenders out of about 26,100 in total. Of them, 326 were second-time offenders while 56 have broken the hygiene laws three times or more. To increase the deterrent effect, Team Clean has proposed stiffening the penalties by imposing community service orders.
Under the proposal, an offender committing a second offence within a period of 24 months will have their fixed penalty notice replaced with a summons and a court application for a higher fine and a community service order. The penalties imposed will then be left to the discretion of the court.
The offences primarily include littering, spitting, dog-fouling and unauthorised display of bills and posters.
Legislative amendments will be required to put the proposed penalties into effect.
Copies of the consultation pamphlet are available at all District Offices and the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department. Pamphlets can also be downloaded from http://www.hwfb.gov.hk and http://www.fehd.gov.hk.
Deadline for reply slips is November 23. They should be posted to the Food & Environmental Hygiene Division, HWFB, 10/F, Citibank Tower, 3 Garden Road, Central; or faxed to 2136 3281, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 06:05 PM
Astronaut Yang Liwei to visit HK
Yang Liwei, the national hero who flew China's first manned space mission last week, will pay a four-day visit to Hong Kong from October 31. He will be accompanied by a group of Mainland space scientists and engineers. Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa invited the astronaut to visit Hong Kong through President Hu Jintao in Bangkok during the recent APEC meetings.
Mr Tung said while the group are here, the Government will organise a series of activities including an exhibition at the Science Museum, featuring the Shenzhou V rocket's re-entry capsule, the landing parachute, Mr Yang's spacesuit and other items.
The visitors will explain the development of China's space programme and share their personal feelings about this historic mission. Mr Tung has sent the Secretary for Home Affairs to Beijing to help organise the trip. "All in all, it's a golden opportunity for the entire Hong Kong community to celebrate together this achievement," Mr Tung said. "I also hope that astronaut Yang will be left with a good impression of Hong Kong."
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 06:07 PM
Litterbugs could face community service orders
While the number of litterbugs in Hong Kong has fallen significantly since the SARS outbreak and ensuing clean-up campaign, the Government is considering stiffer penalties for repeat offenders.
An average of 2,100 - 2,200 litterbugs have been prosecuted every month in post-SARS Hong Kong, as compared to 3,000 before. The head of the Clean Hong Kong office, Kelvin Choi, said on a Commercial Radio programme this morning that about 1% of them had been caught littering before.
Mr Choi said the Government is consulting the public on revising legislation to deal with these repeat offenders and people who habitually post bills illegally. It may consider community service orders.
Between March and September, the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department received more than 300 reports of people throwing rubbish from vehicles, and subsequently issued 340 prosecutions.
Mr Choi appealed to witnesses to mail details, including concerned vehicles' licence plate numbers, time and place of the offence, for the department to follow up. Lanes behind catering businesses have been cleaned up, he noted. Still, from June to September, the department issued more than 1,000 summonses to offenders.
The department will consult the industry on reviewing the points system for operators who commit cleanliness offences.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 06:10 PM
Health promotion key to beating disease spread
A three-day World Health Organisation technical meeting aimed at finding evidence that health promotion is key in preventing the spread of disease ended in Hong Kong today.
The Director of WHO's Department of Non-communicable Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, Dr Pekka Puska, said the meeting was important for the work of WHO, whose member states had emphasised the need for solid evidence of the effectiveness of health promotion for their policy needs. "WHO works on combating disease in multiple ways. But from a public health point of view, prevention is the key. Health promotion is usually the most effective approach to promote population health - and it costs only a fraction of the escalating costs of clinical treatment," Dr Puska noted.
Health promotion has emerged globally as an effective framework to address the broad determinants of health and enables individuals and communities to take control over conditions and circumstances that influence their health.
Hong Kong sets positive example in promoting health
Hong Kong has done well in promoting health. The local population in Hong Kong outlives most people in other places. The life expectancy at birth was 78.2 years for men and 84 for women in 2001. Hong Kong also has an infant mortality rate of 2.7 per 1,000 live births, which ranks among the lowest in the world. However, Deputy Director of Health Dr Regina Ching said that the department's tasks were becoming more and more difficult as it faced increasing challenges from all fronts. To prepare for these challenges, it continuously refined and enhanced its core roles and functions, including health promotion and advocacy. The department would sustain health improvement efforts, enhance their effectiveness, and continue its support for WHO's global efforts.
Participants examine health promotion evidence
The Evidence of Health Promotion Effectiveness Technical Meeting provided an opportunity for participants to share, preview and examine evidence of the effectiveness of health promotion from selected projects through presentations and discussions. Speakers detailed the most recent developments related to the effectiveness of health promotion.
"The meeting helped in developing guidelines for practitioners to plan and evaluate interventions. It also gathered input for WHO's future action in global health-promotion programmes and world conference," Dr Puska added.
Dr Ching said one of the reasons WHO invited Hong Kong to host the meeting was the city's determination to adopt evidence-based health promotion. "Evidence-based practice is the guiding principle for health promotion action in Hong Kong. The Department of Health vigorously evaluates initiatives and disseminates the findings to other health-promotion practitioners, stakeholders and the public. Close collaboration with international and overseas partners is also maintained."
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 06:13 PM
Artificial reef project to boost fish numbers
Fish magnets:The artificial reefs will enhance local marine and fisheries resources.
The Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department has completed phase two of its artificial reef project at Outer Port Shelter, aimed at boosting the number of fish and fish species.
Phase one, completed in 1999, introduced 28,000 cubic metres of artificial reefs in Yau Chau Tong and Hoi Ha Wan Marine Parks. The number of fish species recorded in these artificial reefs increased from 40 in 1998 to more than 220 species in 2003 - including many highly valued species such as grouper, snapper, bream and sweetlips.
The department began the reef project in 1996 to enhance local marine and fisheries resources. Phase two introduced about 129,000 cubic metres of artificial reefs in two known spawning and nursery grounds, in Long Harbour and Outer Port Shelter.
Artificial reefs in Hong Kong waters are made of discarded vessels, used tires, concrete units and redundant marine structures. In 2000, the department also deployed artificial reefs at Sha Chau/Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park and seas off Chek Lap Kok to increase food resources in Chinese White Dolphin habitats. A trial study was also started in April 2002 to use artificial reefs with biofilters to improve the water quality in Kau Sai fish culture zone. So far, artificial reefs covering an area of about 168,000 cubic metres have been deployed within Hong Kong waters.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 06:15 PM
TAC endorses bridge project
The HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will help realise the strategic benefits of promoting the socio-economic development of the western Pearl River and reinforce Hong Kong's status as an international shipping and aviation centre.
This was the message from Transport Advisory Committee Chairman Dr Cheng Hon-kwan after being briefed on the project's progress. He said the committee welcomes the project saying it will reduce travel time from Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai to within 30 minutes. The Governments of the three jurisdictions have set up a Bridge Advance Work Co-ordination Group to start planning. The group has agreed to proceed with the project as quickly as possible, and will soon set up an office in Guangzhou and commission a design institute to conduct feasibility studies.
Also, the HK Government will conduct all necessary statutory procedures and feasibility studies for the connecting infrastructure within Hong Kong.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 06:29 PM
CEPA opens Mainland market to HK lawyers
The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement will make it easier for Hong Kong lawyers to gain market entry to the Mainland.
Speaking at a seminar in Beijing today, Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung said [B]under CEPA, residency requirements for Hong Kong lawyers is waived or relaxed, and they are allowed to sit for the National Judicial Examination, which cannot be taken by foreign lawyers. They can acquire legal profession qualifications for limited practice on the Mainland. "They are allowed to be employed by Mainland lawyers. A new system is established for Hong Kong and Mainland law firms to form associations," Ms Leung said.
Two sides to complement each other
Services provided by Hong Kong lawyers on the Mainland will be related to the investments or business of the Mainland or foreign enterprises there. Therefore Hong Kong lawyers need to co-operate with their Mainland counterparts, particularly in the area of litigation.
"A Mainland enterprise seeking to be listed in Hong Kong will need the services of both Hong Kong and Mainland lawyers. Therefore, liberalisation of the Mainland market will not give rise to any cut-throat competition between the legal professions of the two sides," she said, adding it will encourage the two sides to complement each other.
This will strengthen and enhance the quality of legal services in both jurisdictions, particularly in the specialised fields of international trade, corporate finance, financial business, securities, intellectual property and information technology.
"It is hoped that through co-operation, lawyers of the two sides can form a strong coalition of highly competitive international legal professionals."
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 06:32 PM
New MTR line integration best option
Integrating the development of the MTR's South and West HK Island Lines will bring substantial benefits, Deputy Secretary for Environment, Transport & Works Paul Tang told legislators today. Three alignment options are being studied and once evaluations are completed early next year a proposal will be submitted to the Government for consideration in the second quarter.
The project will not be financially viable on fare revenue alone and the Government's financial support will be needed. Mr Tang said the Government will liaise with the MTR on the funding problem if it finds the project is indispensable and needs financial support. The Government will also study the project's impact on other transport before making a final decision.
Route 7 under review
Speaking on the construction of Route 7, Mr Tang said it is being kept under review and the two routes recommended in the Alternative Alignment Study for Route 7 are being protected administratively.
He said the development of the MTR lines and Route 7 are not negating each other. However, if the two projects go ahead simultaneously, the Government will experience difficulties in resource deployment. The Government has to consider a number of factors to decide which project should go ahead first.
Traffic improvements going ahead
Interim Traffic Improvement Measures for Pok Fu Lam Road are now being carried forward as planned.
The Government has reserved $90 million for the improvement measures. The Highways Department is now conducting a feasibility study and the project is expected to start next year for completion in 2006.
Peak Tram operation may be extended
The Peak Tramways Company's right to operate the scenic tram will expire on December 31. The Environment, Transport & Works Bureau has carefully examined its past performance and intends to recommend that the Executive Council approve the company's request for a 10-year extension to its franchise.
City of Life
October 25th, 2003, 06:36 PM
Hong Kong Police gain global recognition
Expertise exchange: Police Commissioner Tsang Yam-pui speaks at the 72nd Interpol General Assembly Session in Spain.
Commissioner of Police Tsang Yam-pui recently attended two important overseas conferences, signifying a global recognition of the force's status and work. He attended the three-day International Comparisons in Policing & Crime Reduction International Conference in the UK in late September, and the 72nd Interpol General Assembly Session in Spain from September 29 to October 2.
Summing up his tours, Mr Tsang said: "Good liaison with world police forces is vital for us. The force must synchronise with international practices and continue to look for new measures and technology adopted overseas so Hong Kong can also borrow from their experiences. As such, the force will continue to maintain its international exposure." At the invitation of the UK's Home Office and the Metropolitan Police Service, Mr Tsang attended the crime reduction conference, together with some 80 police chiefs and their deputies from the US, Europe, Canada, Singapore and Japan.
HK's beat patrol system highlighted
Hong Kong's beat patrol system was highlighted as a successful example during discussions. "The beat patrol system is an old yet effective policing method. However, this needs to be modernised with the back up of an advanced communications system as well as an electronic database that can provide beat officers with sufficient information," Mr Tsang said. "Participants at the conference were interested to learn that more than 60% of the arrests made in criminal cases in Hong Kong were in fact directly or indirectly attributable to our uniformed patrol officers."
On September 24, Mr Tsang also addressed 80-odd members of the Hong Kong Association in London, which comprised retired senior Government officials and businessmen engaged in trade between the two jurisdictions. In a luncheon speech entitled Stability Through Times of Change, he outlined the force's present and future challenges. He said Hong Kong's overall crime situation remained very stable, and a marked decrease has been seen in overall crime and "key crimes" for the last 10 years.
Former HK Governor impressed by low crime rate
One in the audience, Lord David Wilson, was particularly pleased with our low crime rate after the Handover.
In a letter to Mr Tsang, he wrote: "I think everybody found what you were saying both interesting and encouraging. Certainly I did. Hong Kong has every reason to feel proud of, and grateful to, the HK Police. You and your officers deserve great credit for what you do."
Mr Tsang and his senior aides then left for Benidorm in Spain to attend the Interpol session as part of the 22-member Chinese delegation.
HK to host Interpol Police training symposium
At the meeting, it was announced that Hong Kong would co-host the 15th Symposium for Heads of Police Training with Interpol in early 2005. "The symposium, previously held at the Interpol Headquarters in Lyon, will move to Hong Kong in 2005. The hosting of the symposium is tantamount to a vote of confidence in Hong Kong by Interpol while at the same time reflecting the city's leading role in police training matters," Mr Tsang said.
City of Life
October 27th, 2003, 10:16 AM
HK welcomes visitors wholeheartedly: Donald Tsang
Warm welcome: Chief Secretary Donald Tsang congratulates the winner of the lucky draw at the "Hong Kong - Live It! Love It!" tourism promotion in Seoul. She won a free trip to Hong Kong.
Despite enduring some tough times earlier this year, Hong Kong has bounced back and is now working even harder to give visitors their best welcome ever. This was the message from Chief Secretary Donald Tsang who launched a two-week tourism fair and opened the HK Film Festival in Seoul today. Officiating at the "Hong Kong, Live It! Love It!", a promotional event sponsored by the HK Tourism Board, Mr Tsang thanked South Korea's Ministry of Tourism & Culture and members of the Korean travel trade for helping to rekindle visitor interest in Hong Kong in the past few months.
Korean arrivals rose by 7.4% last year
Last year, more than 457,000 South Koreans visited Hong Kong, an increase of 7.4% over 2001. The number of Korean arrivals rose by 12.5% in the first two months of this year, before the SARS outbreak put a damper on the tourism industry. However, Korean visitor numbers bounced back quickly after May and were close to their pre-SARS level by August.
More special events set for visitors
"This year, we have something extra special for visitors - a new light and laser extravaganza that will light up our world-famous harbour more stunningly than ever before," Mr Tsang said.
"It's a great time to take in our spectacular skyline, enjoy a peaceful walk through our beautiful country parks, or simply set your taste buds tingling by sampling some of the best food you will find anywhere in Asia." Joined by HK film and singing star Leon Lai, the Chief Secretary opened the HK Film Festival, which features eight movies dating from the 1970s through to Mr Lai's latest, "Heroic Duo". Tomorrow, Mr Tsang will meet with a number of senior Korean political and economic leaders and deliver the keynote address at a business luncheon organised by the HK Trade Development Council.
City of Life
October 27th, 2003, 10:23 AM
Workplace English campaign reaps dividends
English promoters: Secretary of the Standing Committee on Language Education & Research Subrina Chow and Senior Research Officer Tony Lee display publicity materials for the Workplace English Campaign.
The Government is putting its money where its mouth is in launching the Workplace English Campaign and it is already reaping dividends. So far, more than 14,000 employees have passed the English-language benchmarking tests for their occupations.
The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research oversees the scheme. The committee's Secretary Subrina Chow said at least another 10,000 people are undergoing training or having their applications processed. In the three years and seven months the scheme has been in operation, 44,870 applications have been received, 33,654 of them from individuals and another 11,216 from 1,120 companies who applied on behalf of their employees, she said. Altogether, $42.97 million has been earmarked, or already disbursed, for these approved applications under the campaign. Disbursement is made upon proof of the applicant's passing of their benchmark test.
The Language Fund finances the campaign, which was launched to enhance Hong Kong's competitive edge as an international centre for business, finance and tourism by heightening people's awareness of the importance of workplace English and raising their English standards. "Some of the most prominent participating companies have told us that they would be introducing the benchmarks as an integral part of their staff's language training programme and a factor in assessing their promotion prospects," Ms Chow said.
Employers and employees applaud campaign
The Mass Transit Railway Corporation Deputy Corporate Relations Manager May Wong said her company strives to provide the best customer service. "An integral part of the service is the ability of our staff to communicate effectively with our passengers. The campaign has certainly helped raise awareness of the importance of a high standard of English in the workplace." Supervisors of the more than 300 participating MTR staff have noted a general improvement in their English proficiency. Feedback from the staff shows a strong momentum to continuously learn and practice English.
Amway, one of the largest direct selling companies in Hong Kong which also took part in the campaign, reported a marked improvement in the presentation skills of staff members who took part in the campaign. "There is no doubt that in our business, better linguistic fluency equals higher productivity. So it's only fair that the higher benchmarks an employee attains, the greater are his or her chances for promotion," Amway's Senior Human Resources Officer Phoebe Yu said.
SMEs encouraged to join the scheme
Ms Chow said the committee would like to encourage more small and medium-sized enterprises to benefit from the funding scheme.
"They need not have their applications endorsed by their employers. Upon passing of the relevant benchmark tests, they would be entitled to a subsidy of up to $4,550. It is open to all non-civil servant employees who need to use English in the workplace."
The Government will meet 50% of the employees' English training costs and examination fees. Funding will be given to them after they have attained the minimum benchmark(s) in the specified international business English exam(s). For more details on funding, call 2607 8899, 2186 8800 or visit www.english.gov.hk.
English competency to be specified for university grads
The response to the campaign and experience gained in its first three years have prompted the committee to recommend that expected English competency should be specified for university graduates and entry-level professionals to give them a better idea of employers' expectations. The committee will consult human resources experts and specify the level of English competency expected of university graduates with reference to the Association of Language Testers in Europe's scale or the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
It will also encourage professional bodies to specify expected English-language competencies for entry-level professionals in their sectors. "The exercise to specify the expected level of English competencies for university graduates will involve both multinational corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises in Hong Kong from a variety of professions, businesses and industries," Ms Chow said. "We hope that in the first half of next year, we can invite the employers to nominate graduate employees to participate in the study.
The nominees should be degree-holders who graduated about a year previously, and their English performance at work should be satisfactory to their employers. They will be invited to take an international English test, and their test results will show the range of English competency that employers are generally satisfied with, she said. "Through the study, we hope to create a uniformity of acceptable English standards among university graduates from various disciplines which they must meet. "Employers can also be assured of the English standards of their university graduate employees."
City of Life
October 27th, 2003, 10:25 AM
Gov't mulls new use for construction waste
The Government is considering a new way to dispose of construction waste: It may use it in the top layer of contaminated mud pits at East Sha Chau island - instead of having to dredge up mud.
At a Legislative Council meeting today, the Environment, Transport & Works Bureau told lawmakers that the new measure will accommodate 6.3 million tonnes of soft inert materials and reduce the need for dredged mud. Previously, clean dredged mud from the sea was used for capping. As much of construction waste is soft, inert material such as excavated soil - which is similar to dredged mud - the Government believes it can be used to replace dredged mud for the capping work. It plans to commence the operation in late 2003. To ensure that the soft inert materials are clean and that the operation will not trigger other environmental problems, the Civil Engineering Department will carry out a number of precautionary measures.
The Environmental Protection Department will also closely monitor the operation under the Dumping At Sea Ordinance.
Meanwhile, the Government also intends to introduce charges for the disposing of construction waste at landfills, sorting facilities and public fill reception facilities. It intends to introduce the legislative package into LegCo later this year, with a view to implementing the scheme in late 2005.
City of Life
October 27th, 2003, 10:30 AM
Air traffic recovers to pre-SARS levels
Flying high: Fifteen additional scheduled passenger and cargo services will operate to and from Hong Kong on a weekly basis in the coming winter season.
Air traffic at the HK International Airport has not only bounced back to pre-SARS levels, it has even exceeded them, the Civil Aviation Department says. In the coming winter season, 15 more weekly scheduled passenger and cargo services will operate to and from Hong Kong.
In the new season - October 26 to March 27 - 128 additional scheduled passenger and cargo services are offered each week. However, 113 services have been cancelled, making a net increase of 15. More than half of the additional passenger services operate between Hong Kong and the Mainland, notably Shanghai and Beijing. Shanghai registered an increase of 25 weekly services, taking the total frequencies to 165; Beijing registered 10 new weekly services, taking its total to 101.
Surge due to increased Mainland travellers
The surge can be largely attributed to the higher demand for air services to Hong Kong by individual Mainland travellers. With the addition of 54 services per week, the number of weekly air services between Hong Kong and the Mainland stands at more than 600, that is, over 1,200 flight movements. Four airlines have launched new passenger services to and from Hong Kong. These involve the provision of 14 weekly services to Bangkok by HK Dragon Airlines, three weekly services to Beijing by Cathay Pacific Airways from December 2, three weekly services between Nairobi and Hong Kong via Bangkok by Kenya Airways, and a weekly service from Moscow by Transaero Airlines. Kenya Airways and Transaero Airlines are new passenger carriers serving Hong Kong, while Nairobi is a new destination.
More cargo services to Shanghai, Singapore & Cologne
About half of the additional cargo services are operated to Shanghai, Singapore and Cologne. Cologne in Germany is a new destination served by cargo carrier United Parcel Service. Another new port added to the route network of HK International Airport is Novosibirsk; cargo services to the port are operated by Aeroflot Russian International Airlines. A total of 69 airlines now offer scheduled passenger and cargo services from Hong Kong to about 130 destinations worldwide. With the additional number of scheduled services offered by airlines, the total number of flight movements at HK International Airport has increased to about 4,300 per week.
City of Life
October 30th, 2003, 10:44 AM
Upbeat climate attracts international companies
Hong Kong's business climate is thriving, backed up by buoyant investment figures and other positive economic indicators. International companies setting up in Hong Kong rose by 11 per cent, according to InvestHK. The number of overseas companies using Hong Kong as a regional headquarters base has risen to a record 966, and regional offices have increased to 2,241. The United States, Japan and the UK are the top three external investors.
Director General of InvestHK, Mike Rowse, said that Cepa was a major attraction for companies investing in Hong Kong. "We are having our best year ever. The signing of Cepa creates considerable potential for Hong Kong to strengthen its position as a centre for value-added manufacturing and high quality services for the China market," said Mr Rowse. More than 85 per cent of British Chamber of Commerce members display a high degree of confidence for the short to medium outlook of the business environment in Hong Kong, and are optimistic about the next five years, according to a business confidence survey conducted by the British Chamber in Hong Kong. "This is a very positive message to the international business community outside Hong Kong that Hong Kong remains an excellent place from which to do business with both China and the region," said chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Norman Lyle.
Luxury brands expand Hong Kong operations
Upmarket French brands Yves St Laurent and Christian Dior and Swiss timepiece Omega earlier this year established flagship stores in Hong Kong. Hermes, another luxury French brand, is expanding its Hong Kong store to create Maison Hermes to stand alongside New York, Paris and Tokyo as its premier outlet. Exclusive British department store Harvey Nichols recently announced it would open its first Asian store in Hong Kong in 2005.
Buying giants establish global HQ in Hong Kong
Two of the world's largest sourcing companies - Germany's Metro AG and America's Associated Merchandising Corporation (AMC) - have set up their global sourcing headquarters in Hong Kong and in AMC's case, has expanded office to cope with increasing volumes out of Hong Kong. The largest regional business organisation in the Pacific, Pacific Basin Economic Council (PBEC), is set to shift its international headquarters from Honolulu to Hong Kong by the end of the year, and Brazil is considering opening a promotion centre in Hong Kong next year to bolster trade and cultural ties with Asia.
Surge in visitor arrivals
Visitors are also flooding back to Hong Kong. Arrivals surged in October, with a record 40,000 people visiting Hong Kong in the first week. Air traffic at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has exceeded pre-Sars levels, according to the Civil Aviation Department. The surge is mainly due to the higher demand for air services to Hong Kong by individual travellers from the Chinese mainland.
This demand has fuelled Hong Kong's major flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways to resume services to Beijing from December 2. It is the first time in 13 years the airline has offered services to the mainland.
Due to the surge in arrivals and upswing in economic activity, Financial Secretary Henry Tang raised this year's GDP growth to 3 per cent, and the International Monetary Fund is also considering raising its forecasts for the Hong Kong economy. Retail sales have rebounded, deflation is easing and the stock market has rallied to a two-year high on massive inflow of funds.
There has also been a remarkable increase in investment activity in Hong Kong's property market by foreign funds, according to international consultants DTZ Debenham Tie Leung.
"Hong Kong is an international finance centre backed by the burgeoning mainland market, and is one of the most popular destinations in the Asia-pacific for foreign investment," said DTZ's investment department executive director Francis Li. "More US and European funds have been actively seeking investment properties in the past few months."
City of Life
October 30th, 2003, 10:47 AM
Hong Kong is UPS' choice for Asia-Europe hub
Hong Kong will serve as the Asia-Europe hub for United Parcel Service (UPS), the world's largest package delivery company, with the launch of direct flights between the SAR and Cologne, Germany. UPS chairman and CEO Mike Eskew launching the inaugural flight in late October said: "Hong Kong has always been a city of entrepreneurs. "That is why when UPS decided to come to Asia, Hong Kong was one of the first Asian cities in which we established operations."
World-class transportation and logistics hub
"Hong Kong is a world class hub for logistics and transportation, where goods flow in and out. It is a telecommunications hub, a crossroads of free information exchange. It's Asia's leading financial hub, and one of the freest economies in the world."
He said Hong Kong's strategic position at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta had created a unique "dual-carriage" role for Hong Kong reinforced by the recent signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa). "As the gateway to China for foreign companies, and as China's gateway to the world, Hong Kong holds a truly unrivalled role as Asia's enabler of global commerce."
Mr Eskew said tighter integration with China and within Greater China was crucial for Hong Kong, as closer cooperation would promote the free flows of goods, information and funds.
"Given its unique strength, Hong Kong is well-positioned to facilitate this synchronisation and to navigate the turbulence of an increasingly fast-paced business world," he said. UPS six-weekly flights were awarded following last year's agreement between Hong Kong and the US giving U.S. air-cargo carriers expanded rights to carry goods to and from Hong Kong and countries beyond.
United Parcel Service www.ups.com
City of Life
November 6th, 2003, 01:41 PM
Hong Kong: the best platform for business, says CE
Hong Kong is striving to be the most sophisticated and efficient platform for the world to do business with China, and for China to do business with the rest of the world, the Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, said today (November 5). Speaking at the opening of the BusinessWeek CEO Forum, Mr Tung said there would be many gateways into China, and Hong Kong's unique role was under challenge. "So we have had to reinvent and reposition ourselves in order to retain our edge," he said. The key challenge for Hong Kong has been to leverage on its biggest strength: its proximity to, and familiarity with, one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Mr Tung said the strategy was to use Hong Kong's competitive advantages, such as its world-class business services, logistics and financial services, legal system, and the quality of its financial markets, to become the most sophisticated and efficient platform for doing business for and with China. "We have been greatly helped and supported by the Central Government in achieving our vision," said Mr Tung. This included the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement under which a range of goods manufactured in Hong Kong would enter the Mainland on a duty-free basis, while 18 service industries would also have access to the Mainland market ahead of China's market opening timetable under WTO.
"I would like to put it to you that it gives global companies that do business in Hong Kong a great advantage as well," Mr Tung said.
"Hong Kong is a resilient, flexible society, quick to adapt to change and quick to seek new opportunities. Our job in the government is to open doors and create conditions for business to remain competitive and drive the economy forward."
Ends/Wednesday, November 5, 2003
City of Life
November 6th, 2003, 01:44 PM
New measures to develop Hong Kong's financial services industry
Initiatives to promote the development of the financial services industry and enhance Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre were passed by the Legislative Council today (November 5).
Under the Revenue (No3) Bill, [B]to qualifying debt instruments (QDIs) and unit trusts will be exempted from fixed stamp duty. QDIs are certain specified high quality debt instruments.
Following passage of the bill, the original 50% tax concession for trading profits and interest income derived from QDIs with an original maturity period of not less than five years will be extended to QDIs with a maturity period of not less than three years.
For profits and interest income derived from QDIs with a maturity period of not less than seven years, the current 50% profits tax concession will be increased to 100% exemption. On unit trusts, subscriptions to and redemptions of units in unit trust funds domiciled in Hong Kong will be exempted from the $5 fixed stamp duty. "The proposal relating to QDIs will encourage the supply of and trading activities in medium-term and long-term debt instruments and help promote the development of the debt market as a whole," the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau said.
The exemption of unit trusts from the fixed stamp duty will allow local funds to compete with their offshore counterparts on a more equal basis, and should attract funds to establish in Hong Kong. The concession on profits and interest income from QDIs will apply to all issues made on or after Budget Day on March 5, 2003. The exemption on fixed stamp duty will apply to all subscriptions and redemptions of unit trusts domiciled in Hong Kong that take place after the commencement of the legislation.
End/Wednesday, November 5, 2003
City of Life
November 9th, 2003, 09:05 AM
Dutch industrial supplier taps HK for HQ
Time to upgrade: Simon Galpin and Loek de Vries at the opening ceremony.
Royal Ten Cate, Holland's leading international supplier of industrial products, will upgrade its representative office in Hong Kong into its regional headquarters for the Asia Pacific.
The group will invest up to 60 million euros in Hong Kong and the Mainland.
Royal Ten Cate Chairman Loek de Vries said the company recognises that Hong Kong is a value-added service centre for international companies seeking to enter the Mainland.
Invest HK's Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion Simon Galpin welcomed the company's move.
With China's accession to WTO, the retail market is expected to surge, he said, offering additional opportunities to Hong Kong retailers, especially those with regional headquarters in the city.
"For them, proximity to the mainland market will make overseeing their regional growth that much easier, while the fact of being based in Hong Kong, with its Westernised tradition of trading and rule of law, will make it all possible," he said. Royal Ten Cate Pacific Limited set up an office in Hong Kong 27 years ago to coordinate the group's business activities in the region.
City of Life
November 9th, 2003, 09:05 AM
HK to host 2009 East Asian Games!
Good sports: Secretary for Home Affairs Dr Patrick Ho and HK Bid Committee Chairman Timothy Fok raise a triumphant toast after learning Hong Kong had won the bid to host the 2009 East Asian Games.
Hong Kong has won the hosting rights for the 2009 East Asian Games. Hosting a lunch reception at Government House to celebrate the achievement, announced in Macau today, Secretary for Home Affairs Dr Patrick Ho thanked the local sports community for their support for Hong Kong's bid. He also thanked the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China and the bid committee for their efforts in making the bid a success.
Despite the deficit, he said the Government has committed $80 million to host the games which will benefit Hong Kong.
"The vote has been taken. The hard work now begins. Over the next six years, all sectors of the community will work hand-in-hand to organise the best East Asian Games. This is our commitment," Dr Ho said. More than 2,000 athletes will take part, and they together with delegation members and tourists flocking in to watch the games will boost our economy.
Director of Leisure & Cultural Services Anissa Wong said the Government will upgrade its sports facilities to the required standard, and set up an appropriate institution to organise the games. The East Asian Games are held once every four years. They have previously been held in China, Japan and South Korea. The 2005 games will be held in Macau.
City of Life
November 9th, 2003, 09:29 AM
Cathay Pacific honoured for showing leadership during SARS
Cathay Pacific Airways was last night honoured by the travel industry for demonstrating outstanding leadership and initiative in efforts to help Hong Kong and the region recover from the effects of SARS.
The airline was cited at the “TTG Honours 2003” awards ceremony, which took place yesterday evening in Bangkok, for being the driving force behind initiatives to rebuild Hong Kong’s tourism industry and restore confidence in air travel. Cathay Pacific was also commended for standing by Hong Kong during the depths of the crisis and preserving the jobs of its staff, despite suffering a heavy financial loss.
“Cathay Pacific got up-and-running, but not just to protect itself,” the TTG Honours citation said. “It shows acceptance of losses as part of doing business – but also that the bigger loss may be to lose the respect and goodwill of one's home base if one does not carry oneself well during a crisis.”
Award host TTG Asia, a leading travel industry publication, highlighted the airline’s initiatives to get Hong Kong’s travel industry back on its feet again.
“Cathay Pacific drove the ingenious initiative – anyone who spent HK$1,000 could buy an air ticket for that amount – by contributing more than 8,000 tickets,” the TTG Honours citation said about We Love Hong Kong campaign. “The Cathay Pacific World Pass encouraged businesses to renew overseas contacts; Early Bird discounts, of which 80,000 tickets were sold, encouraged inbound travel; and Visit Hong Kong Now flight and hotel packages attracted 15,000 bookings.”
TTG also credited Flying Without Fear, “a communications drive to bust the fear of air travel,” and the fact that Cathay Pacific donated 10,000 free tickets to Hong Kong Tourism Board and HK$2 million worth of tickets for the Hong Kong Super Draw.
Cathay Pacific Director and Chief Operating Officer Philip Chen said: “As the airline of Hong Kong, we felt that we should do everything we could to restore confidence and help Hong Kong rebuild after SARS. The TTG Honours 2003 award was won with the hard work and determination of all Cathay Pacific’s management and staff. It is to them that we owe our thanks, as we do Hong Kong’s travel trade for their unity and support.”
City of Life
November 9th, 2003, 09:32 AM
Cathay Pacific named “Best Inflight Retailer – Asia Pacific”
Cathay Pacific Airways today announced it has been named the "Best Inflight Travel Retailer" at this year's Raven Fox Awards for Travel Retail Excellence in the Asia Pacific. It is the fifth award honouring the airline's inflight product and services to be announced in recent weeks.
The Raven Fox awards celebrate excellence and innovation in the travel-retail industry. Considered the "most prestigious awards in travel-retail", they recognise innovation and creativity in the Asia Pacific travel-retail industry. A panel of regional operators and suppliers was asked to vote for companies that have impressed over the years. Cathay Pacific was also named "Best Inflight Retailer" in 1998 and 2001.
Cathay Pacific's inflight retail service offers passengers a wide range of products ranging from best-selling fragrances, cosmetics, skincare, watches, jewellery, accessories and toys, to Hong Kong souvenirs, spirits, tobacco and Cathay Pacific memorabilia. Some of these products are exclusive to Cathay Pacific. In addition, Cathay Pacific offers a comprehensive Home Delivery Programme where items ordered on board can be delivered to anywhere in the world. Products include flowers, wines, gifts as well as household and electronic goods.
The airline in recent weeks also took top honours for "Best Inflight Audio Entertainment" and "Best Inflight Video Programming - Short Haul" at the annual Avion Awards. It also carried off the "World's Leading First Class" and "World's Leading Use of Inflight Technology" awards in the World Travel Awards in New York.
Cathay Pacific General Manager Inflight Services Quince Chong said: "We are very pleased to receive this award, as it recognises not only our customers' satisfaction but also our staff's dedication and professionalism. Cathay Pacific works very hard to create and maintain a very high standard of customer service, both on the ground and in the air. It is tremendously gratifying when this effort is appreciated by our customers, and by those in the travel business who have declared our product the industry benchmark. We will continue our effort to source exclusive and interesting products that best serve the needs of our passengers."
City of Life
November 9th, 2003, 09:37 AM
PERC ranks HK as safest and most stable place in the region
Hong Kong was rated the safest and most stable place among 14 countries and places polled in Asia Pacific, by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd (PERC). Singapore and Taiwan were in the second and third place respectively. The PERC report said the July 1 rally, which was staged in a peaceful manner, had not affected foreign investors' incentives to invest in Hong Kong.
( 05/11/2003 )
City of Life
November 9th, 2003, 09:39 AM
Hong Kong's Octopus spreads tentacles to Europe ( 04/11/2003 )
Hong Kong’s Octopus electronic payment system will soon be used by the Dutch after the MTR Corp signed a HK$1 billion (120 million euros) contract to introduce the technology to the Netherlands, reported the South China Morning Post.
City of Life
November 19th, 2003, 12:29 PM
Beijing approves RMB banking services for HK
Money milestone: Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa says Hong Kong banks can operate renminbi services from January.
The Central Government has given the green light for Hong Kong banks to operate personal renminbi banking services. Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa says a memorandum will be signed in Beijing tomorrow. Announcing the decision today, Mr Tung said this is an important step allowing all banks to operate renminbi services from January.
Mr Tung said the move is significant and will help maintain Hong Kong's status as a leading financial centre.
The banks are allowed to run four aspects of renminbi services, namely deposit-taking, currency exchange, remittances and credit-card services.
The RMB services on offer
Deposit taking: Hong Kong-licensed banks participating in RMB business can offer RMB deposit-taking services to Hong Kong residents.
Exchange: Participating banks can offer to holders of RMB deposit accounts a service for converting RMB into HK dollars and vice versa. The maximum amount that can be exchanged per person per day is the equivalent of RMB20,000. For people who are not holders of RMB deposit accounts, the maximum is RMB6,000 per transaction.
Remittances: Participating banks can offer RMB deposit account holders a service for remitting from their Hong Kong accounts RMB funds to accounts under the same name on the Mainland. The maximum is RMB50,000 per person per day.
Renminbi Cards: Mainland residents can use RMB debit cards and credit cards issued by Mainland banks for spending in Hong Kong. Participating banks or their subsidiaries can also issue RMB debit cards and credit cards to residents of Hong Kong for use on the Mainland.
An important step
Financial Secretary Henry Tang said the arrangements for banks to conduct renminbi business on a trial basis are an important step forward for the development of our banking sector.
He said it will help promote economic integration between Hong Kong and the Mainland, and facilitate cross-border tourist spending. Monetary Authority Chief Executive Joseph Yam said the move will open a new channel for the flow of renminbi funds between Hong Kong and the Mainland through the banking system. In the long term, this development will have great significance for developing Hong Kong as an international financial centre, he said.
City of Life
November 20th, 2003, 10:35 AM
Semiconductor company expands in Hong Kong
A developer of innovative power management solutions based in Silicon Valley, Advanced Analogic Technologies, Inc (AATI), is to move into the Hong Kong Science Park next month.
The Director-General of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong, Mr Mike Rowse, met with AATI's senior executives at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California today (November 19) as part of his overseas visit programme in the US. The company's CEO and Chief Technical Officer, Mr Richard K Williams, said he expected the Hong Kong operations would be involved in such areas as product engineering, test programme development, and reliability engineering. "The proximity of the Science Park to Shenzhen inspires our team to direct our sales activities towards China, especially in the nearby Pearl River Delta. We are very happy with our new home," he said.
Welcoming the company's decision, Mr Rowse said he was pleased to see a Silicon Valley-based semiconductor company setting up its base in Hong Kong for Asian expansion.
"AATI's choice of the Science Park as the location for its expanded operations and engineering activities underlines our city's increasing attractiveness to IT firms," he said. "Hong Kong has key benefits for R&D-driven companies aiming to access and grow their operations in mainland China and elsewhere in the region. We offer an excellent business infrastructure."
Established in 1997, AATI is targeting at extending battery life, improving reliability, and reducing the size and weight of new designs based on analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits.
The company has sales offices throughout East Asia, including in Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo.
November 19, 2003
City of Life
November 20th, 2003, 10:42 AM
ACI hails Hong Kong as its new regional home
Hong Kong offers an optimal regional base to serve the Airports Council International's (ACI's) expanding membership base in China and Northeast Asia, the organisation's secretary general said here today.
During a visit to the territory, ACI Secretary General Alexander Strahl said: "The rapid growth of air travel in Asia, particularly in China, makes Hong Kong an excellent hub for ACI."
ACI will move its Pacific regional office from Vancouver to Hong Kong at the end of June 2004. The territory was selected from among 10 candidate cities because of its strong position in terms of business connectivity and infrastructure, Mr Strahl said.
"Hong Kong is a dynamic city located at the heart of the region, one that will serve the Pacific Region of Airports Council International well as our membership base develops throughout the region, particularly in North East Asia and China, he said. "Since my arrival in Hong Kong a couple of days ago, I have travelled to the Pearl River Delta and met airport officials. I have seen for myself the robust growth of the aviation industry round this part of the world. It is a good move for ACI to relocate its Pacific Regional Office to such a vibrant centre of aviation and trade development," Mr Strahl added.
The decision to relocate followed the adoption of a resolution by ACI Members in the Pacific Region to move the office from Vancouver to a more geographically suitable location. The final choice involved extensive study and deliberation on the part of the Regional Board of Directors.
Hong Kong was selected following a comprehensive study of candidate cities around the Pacific Region, an exercise that required the organization to determine which city was first among equals. The international reputation of cities in the Pacific Region makes it very difficult to choose. The organization is confident, however, that choosing Hong Kong will be strategically beneficial for the organization.
City of Life
November 20th, 2003, 10:46 AM
Foreign assets rise $1.3b
Foreign assets, representing the external assets of the Exchange Fund, amounted to $825.9 billion at the end of October, up $1.3 billion.
The Monetary Base, comprising Certificates of Indebtedness, Government-issued currency notes and coins in circulation, the Aggregate Balance of the banking system and Exchange Fund Bills and Notes issued, amounted to $260.3 billion. Claims on the private sector amounted to $47.5 billion.
Foreign liabilities, representing mainly obligations under repurchase agreements, amounted to $7.4 billion.
City of Life
November 20th, 2003, 10:48 AM
Unemployment rate falls to 8%
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has fallen further to 8% in August-October, while underemployment has fallen from 3.6% to 3.5%. The Census & Statistics Department said falls in unemployment were seen mainly in the retail trade, restaurants and hotels, amusement and recreational services, real estate, import/export trade, decoration and maintenance, and sanitary services. Underemployment saw falls concentrated in foundation and superstructure construction, transport, sanitary services and manufacturing.
Improved economy bringing new jobs
The total labour force fell by around 7,000 to 3,485,000, however, total employment increased by 8,200 to 3,203,000.
The number of unemployed fell 15,300 to 282,000, while the number of underemployed fell by 6,600 to 120,000.
Acting Financial Secretary Stephen Ip said employment has resumed growth thanks to a rebound in economic activity.
Labour Dept placements hit new high
Mr Ip said the number of placements by the Labour Department hit a new high last month, with 6,739 job seekers finding work - an 8.5% increase over September and a 20.1% rise on the same period last year. He said the unemployment problem is a structural one, adding that further improvement will hinge on the continued pick-up in economic activity giving rise to additional jobs.
CEPA, individual visit scheme boosting employment
Mr Ip said he remained optimistic about the employment situation, and hoped that the unemployment rate will go down steadily with the implementation of the individual visit scheme and CEPA.
Today's figures also reveal that the total labour supply shrank on account of the reduced labour force participation rate, especially for people aged 15-29. The number of new vacancies from the private sector registered with the Labour Department continued on an upward trend. The October figure was 22,083, up 1.7% on the previous month and 19% over the same period last year.
New campaign to canvass more jobs
The number of vacancies in the manufacturing and retail industries for October also went up by 11.4% and 6.6% respectively compared to September. To canvass more vacancies from small and medium enterprises, the department will launch a direct mailing campaign on its employment service later this month targeting companies with five to 49 employees.
City of Life
November 20th, 2003, 10:51 AM
Education funding to rise next year
Secretary for Education & Manpower Professor Arthur Li says an agreement on education funding for the coming financial year has been reached with the Financial Secretary. Speaking on three radio talk shows today, Professor Li said the absolute amount will be more than this year's allocation. However, the money available may not be enough to cover the expected increase in education expenditure.
He said discussion on education budget cuts for 2005-08 is continuing and no final decision has been made. He hopes the spending cuts will not affect education quality.
Upset students should keep calm
Professor Li asked students threatening to boycott classes to stay calm. He will explain the latest situation to student representatives tomorrow and garner their views. Noting that universities are allowed to raise funds and make their own decisions in resource deployment, Professor Li said flexibility in adjusting university funding is greater than primary and secondary schools.
In the coming financial year, there will be a 10% cut in university funding - about $1.1 billion.
$1 billion matching fund set up
To strengthen the institutions' fundraising capabilities, a $1 billion matching fund has been set up. It will be used to match private donations the schools raise. Each university is also given $5 million to establish a dedicated office to deal with its own fundraising matters. Professor Li rejected claims he was against Henry Tang in the budget cut issue. He said officials having different views is very normal, and he will try to help the Financial Secretary tackle the deficit problem. Noting that the Government is trying to achieve a balance between solving deficit problem and maintaining education quality, he said his bureau will explore new ways to improve education quality.
City of Life
November 20th, 2003, 10:56 AM
HK, Mainland to work closer on public health
The Health, Welfare & Food Bureau signed today an agreement allowing closer co-operation and communication in protecting public health here and on the Mainland. The document, signed with the State General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection & Quarantine, reaffirms their co-operation framework on the inspection and quarantine of food, live animals, plants and animal products.
Building on the partnership the two sides attained while tackling the SARS outbreak earlier this year, the arrangement also formalises the liaison and exchange mechanism on port health control measures.
Liaison meeting to be held annually
Both sides will now conduct exchanges on major inspection and quarantine issues. An annual liaison meeting of senior officials will be held to examine major inspection and quarantine issues and other important data. Individual working panels will be organised to study specialised issues relating to inspection and quarantine of animals and plants, food safety, health and quarantine measures and testing techniques. Each side will designate two liaison officers. The Guangdong, Shenzhen and Zhuhai Entry-Exit Inspection & Quarantine Bureaux, and the Departments of Health, Food & Environmental Hygiene, and Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation, will also meet regularly to discuss operational matters.
City of Life
November 20th, 2003, 10:58 AM
HK, Mainland doctors to join exchange programme
Hong Kong and the Mainland will work on the proposal to formulate an exchange doctors training programme on epidemiology and build a network of expertise in the investigation and control of infectious disease.
Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong said in Beijing today the move will increase the capacity of both sides to handle infectious disease. Speaking at the end of his three-day visit, Dr Yeoh said the Executive Vice Minister of the Ministry of Health Gao Qiang reacted positively to his proposal for the programme, as did the Singapore Ministry of Health during his recent visit.
After meeting with Mr Gao, Dr Yeoh and the Hong Kong delegation visited the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, a designated SARS hospital, to see the isolation facilities and discuss with staff their infection control measures and treatment protocol.
Earlier in the day, Dr Yeoh met with Vice Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture Qi Jingfa. The ministry and Hong Kong will step up communication on infectious disease in animals.
Fruitful meetings held
The delegation arrived in Beijing on November 16 to strengthen ties with Mainland authorities. It has so far met with officials from the HK & Macau Affairs Office, the Ministry of Commerce, and the State General Administration on Quality Supervision, Inspection & Quarantine. Dr Yeoh yesterday signed a co-operation arrangement between the latter and Hong Kong on closer communication, inspection and quarantine matters.
Inspection and quarantine procedures play a pivotal role in the control of communicable diseases and protection public health.
City of Life
November 20th, 2003, 12:35 PM
Legal system a vital source of HK's strength
Hong Kong continues to have a strong and independent legal profession under the new constitutional framework, as guaranteed by both the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.
This was the message from Solicitor General Bob Allcock speaking today at a luncheon at the Presidents of Law Associations Conference 2003.
Mr Allcock said the legal profession continued to be a vital source of strength for Hong Kong as it provided a full range of services to local and international clients, making us a regional hub for legal advice and dispute-resolution services.
"We have a sophisticated legal sector that deals with the entire spectrum of legal work in areas such as capital markets, corporate finance, securities, intellectual property, information technology, and maritime law," Mr Allcock said.
Mainland firms benefiting from HK legal system
It is not just international corporations that find comfort in the depth and breadth of experience we have, Mainland parties can also find benefits in using Hong Kong as a dispute-resolution centre.
He said we share the same language and culture, and we are extremely familiar with the way the Mainland market operates. Hong Kong possesses unique advantages in serving the legal needs of both international and Mainland business. These advantages have been reinforced by special privileges given to Hong Kong lawyers under CEPA.
Mr Allcock also spoke of the role Hong Kong lawyers play in respect of human rights. "There is no shortage of lawyers who are prepared to help individuals protect their human rights if they are considered to have been breached."
Mr Allcock said the guarantees in the Basic Law, particularly those relating to human rights, have been the source of much litigation. He said the courts had interpreted and enforced those guarantees without fear or favour.
HK law secure under the Basic Law
The courts have made rulings on the constitutionality of the Provisional Legislative Council, provisions on right of abode in the Immigration Ordinance, the law prohibiting the desecration of the national and regional flags, village elections, the abolition of the two former municipal councils and a reduction in civil service salaries.
The decisions in these cases, some in favour of the Government and some against, demonstrate that the Basic Law is not a piece of window-dressing but a powerful and enforceable constitutional document, Mr Allcock said.
Mr Allcock said the common law principles and nearly all the 600-odd ordinances that were previously in force continue to apply in Hong Kong.
The Basic Law provides that the judicial system previously practised in Hong Kong should be maintained except for those changes consequent upon the establishment of the Court of Final Appeal.
City of Life
November 20th, 2003, 12:39 PM
HK port to sharpen its edge: Stephen Ip
Throughput increase: The Kwai Chung Container Terminal will be able to handle more than 15 million containers when Container Terminal No.9 comes into full operation in 2005.
The Hong Kong port needs to strengthen its existing advantages to sharpen its edge when facing competition from neighbouring ports, Secretary for Economic Development & Labour says. Responding to a query from legislator Hui Cheung-ching today, Stephen Ip said a study is underway to review the port's operation and structure. The study is due to be completed early next year. Its authors will also make recommendations on long-term port-development strategy and propose competitiveness-enhancement measures.
Timely planning to meet future needs
"Our port-development policy is to ensure that the planning of port-related infrastructure meets the practical needs of the port and that port facilities are provided in a timely manner to handle Hong Kong's forecast cargo throughput," Mr Ip said.
The study's initial findings indicate new infrastructure development - such as the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Western Corridor, which will be completed in 2005, and the proposed Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge - will have positive impacts on Hong Kong's cargo volume. "We will reflect these impacts fully in the new port cargo forecasts," added Mr Ip.
Cargo throughput keeps growing
The Hong Kong port's throughput broke the record last year, with 19.1 million containers, representing a growth of 7.3% over 2001.
In the first eight months of this year, the total throughput went up by 8.3% over the same period last year, reaching 13.26 million containers.
Mr Ip pointed out that to keep pace with port development needs, the first and second berths of the Container Terminal No. 9 commenced operation in July and October.
With a total of six berths, the terminal will become fully operational by the first quarter of 2005 and provide a capacity of more than 2.6 million containers. By that time, the Kwai Chung Container Terminal's total capacity will exceed 15 million containers.
Measures to enhance competitiveness to be pursued
Container terminals at Yantian, Shekou and Chiwan will add eight container berths from the second half of this year to 2005. By then, the three container terminals in Shenzhen will have an estimated capacity of more than 11 million twenty-foot-equivalent units, or TEUs. "In face of competition from the neigbouring ports, the Hong Kong port needs to strengthen its existing advantages, such as further enhancement in container-terminal efficiency and maintaining a high frequency of sailings," Mr Ip said.
Measures dealing with costs, communication between organisations in the container port and freight industries, speed of cross-boundary clearance, commercial arrangements and port promotion will also be actively pursued, he added.
City of Life
November 20th, 2003, 12:48 PM
HK committed to enhancing competitiveness
Hong Kong is committed to enhancing and promoting its competitiveness in the new knowledge-based economy by investing in education, offering infrastructural support, and funding research and development programmes. Speaking in the Legislative Council today, Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology John Tsang said although Hong Kong's ranking in the World Knowledge Competitiveness Index has descended from 87 in 2002-03 to 102 in 2003-04, Hong Kong ranks higher in certain individual indices. Hong Kong's rankings in per capita expenditure on research and development performed by Government, employment in high-technology services per 1,000 inhabitants, and employment in IT and computer manufacturing per 1,000 inhabitants are 34, 17 and 27 respectively.
A wise investment
To enhance our competitiveness, Hong Kong has invested substantial resources into academic research over the last decade. Earmarked money for the Research Grants Council has risen from $100 million in 1991-92 to $578 million in 2003-04, he said, while the number of University Grants Committee-funded Research Postgraduate places has grown from 1,285 to 4,315. Census & Statistics Department figures show that the number of local patent applications rose from 1,092 in 1991 to 9,226 in 2001. The average annual growth rate was 24%. Mr Tsang said recurrent expenditure on education represents 23.8% of the recurrent Government expenditure in 2003-04. Total expenditure on education has risen from 3% of GDP in 1996-97 to 4.8% in 2003-04. Total expenditure on basic education has grown from $23.1 billion in 1996-97 to $41.7 billion in 2003-04 whereas the figure has increased from $14.8 billion to $19.3 billion in 2003-04 for tertiary education during the same period.
City of Life
November 21st, 2003, 01:32 PM
HK safe, security chief says
Hong Kong remains a safe city, Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee says responding to Thursday's terrorist attacks in Istanbul.
Mr Lee said there are no reports so far of Hong Kong people being involved in the bomb blasts.
He said the Government is highly concerned about the incident, and assessments showed that Hong Kong is an unlikely terrorist target. However, Police will maintain a high level of vigilance and state of operational readiness.
Close liaison with overseas law enforcement and intelligence agencies will be kept. It will also regularly review its security arrangements, particularly at the airport and on public transport systems, to ensure safety.
City of Life
November 21st, 2003, 06:06 PM
HK the Mainland's premier capital formation centre
Hong Kong has become the premier capital formation centre for the Mainland not just because it provides access to capital and first class financial services but also because firms securing a listing here get themselves a 'Q' mark.
This was the message from the Permanent Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Tony Miller speaking at the opening of the second Annual Asiamoney Equity Forum today.
Mr Miller said that since the listing of the first 'H' share in Hong Kong in 1993, a total of 247 Mainland enterprises have listed here.
"It speaks volumes for a common view of the mutual benefits for Mainland enterprises leveraging off Hong Kong's internationally recognised regulatory standards and global reach in order to get international acceptance," he said.
Noting that Hong Kong's great strengths were its world-class financial services, the rule of law, the free flow of capital and information, and a well-regulated and highly liquid market, Mr Miller said: "Mainland firms list here not just to secure access to capital, not just for the PR benefits, but because they want the benchmarking."
Good corporate governance will continue our success
The Government is keenly aware of the importance of good corporate governance because this will be vital for Hong Kong's continued success.
While our regulators aim to be market friendly, Mr Miller said they have no intention of lowering quality in pursuit of quantity.
On Hong Kong's economic integration with the Mainland, Mr Miller said the signing of CEPA recognises and strengthens our role in the Mainland's economic development. Hong Kong banks allowed to conduct RMB business will significantly facilitate day-to-day cross-boundary activity.
Mr Miller believed that the trend of increasingly dynamic economic integration within the region is expected to grow with further liberalisation of the Mainland market given its World Trade Organisation commitment.
City of Life
November 21st, 2003, 06:12 PM
Composite CPI falls 2.7% in October
The Composite Consumer Price Index fell 2.7% last month over a year earlier, narrowing further on September's 3.2% fall. The Census & Statistics Department said the lesser year-on-year decline was largely attributable to the effect of rates concessions granted in the third quarter.
A price rise in women's clothes and a moderated decline in the cost of some durable goods contributed to the easing up. But against these, there was a larger fall in charges for telephone and other communications services. However, the price of fresh vegetables showed a moderate rise.
Analysed by sub-index and on a year-on-year comparison, the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) went down 2%, 2.7% and 3.3% respectively in October, also narrowing from the corresponding falls of 2.8%, 3.2% and 3.8% in September.
Meanwhile, the Government's waiver of water and sewage charges for August to November continued its effect in October. It was estimated to have dampened the Composite CPI, CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) by 0.3, 0.4, 0.2 and 0.1 of a percentage point respectively, over the same month last year.
Among the various CPI components, housing continued to register the largest year-on-year decline in prices in October (-5.7%), followed by durable goods (-5.5%), miscellaneous services (-3.5%), food (excluding meals bought away from home) (-1.8%), meals bought away from home (-1.4%), clothing and footwear (-0.7%), and alcohol and tobacco (-0.5%).
However, year-on-year increases in prices were recorded in October for miscellaneous goods (3.1%), and electricity, gas and water (1.1%). Transport costs rose by 0.1%.
City of Life
November 21st, 2003, 06:15 PM
More Mainland breaks for HK professionals
A new arrangement will be signed soon allowing our securities and futures professionals to obtain qualifications and to practice on the Mainland.
Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa said today the arrangement will be signed by the Securities & Futures Commission and the China Securities Regulatory Commission. Mr Tung said the move will better promote the cause of our professionals on the Mainland, and enhance our status as a logistics and support centre for commerce and industry.
Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Frederick Ma welcomed the move, and encouraged securities professionals to take the relevant Mainland examinations and keep abreast of developments.
He is also confident Hong Kong will benefit from the business opportunities in the growing Mainland market and contribute towards the economic development of the country.
The CEPA Joint Steering Committee will meet in mid-December to discuss the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
Highlights of the new arrangement
* HK professionals having passed the examination on relevant Mainland laws and regulations can be granted industry qualifications by the Securities Association of China or China Futures Association. They can be employed as senior management personnel in the Mainland;
* Mainland professionals can be deemed by the Securities & Futures Commission as having satisfied the requirements for industry qualifications in Hong Kong;
* university degrees obtained in Hong Kong or accepted by the Securities & Futures Commission can be deemed as satisfying academic requirements in the Mainland; and,
* market experience accumulated in Hong Kong or accepted by the Securities & Futures Commission can be deemed as being equivalent to relevant working experience on the Mainland.
Both commissions have also reached a consensus in collaboration on examinations, mapping of Mainland-Hong Kong qualifications, arrangements for approval of qualifications, regulatory co-operation, and breaches and investigation.
City of Life
November 21st, 2003, 06:18 PM
More dialogue set on harbour reclamation
Secretary for Housing, Planning & Lands Michael Suen has pledged to work with the Society for Protection of the Harbour and other parties to help settle reclamation disputes.
Speaking at the annual dinner of the HK Institution of Engineers and the Institution of Structural Engineers tonight, Mr Suen said apart from the Central-Wanchai and southeast Kowloon projects, there will be no more reclamation of the harbour.
The Legislative Council will hold a public hearing on November 27 to hear views on the Central reclamation.
"We sincerely hope that a public consensus can be reached early and peacefully on how to strike a balance between our transportation needs and our aspirations to protect and preserve the harbour," Mr Suen said.
"To further allay the concerns of the public, we will ensure that our policy is reflected in the town plans that have a bearing on the harbour to ensure that there will be no more encroachment on harbour areas. Our planning objective is to ensure that Victoria Harbour will be protected and enhanced for people to enjoy."
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 11:01 AM
Winterfest aims to appeal to all ages
The Hong Kong Tourism Board will stage the Hong Kong Winterfest in Central district from November 28 to January 4. The Board's Executive Director Clara Chong said that Hong Kong Winterfest achieved positive results last year, with visitor arrivals totalling a record-breaking 1.67 million in December.
During the period, Statue Square will be transformed into a "Christmas Wonderland" with colourful festive decorations and a 33.5-metres "Christmas Wishing Tree".
Hong Kong's tallest Christmas tree will be illuminated by a computerised system to create synchronised lighting and musical effects. The synchronised lighting show will be staged every 30 minutes from 7pm to 10pm nightly.
There will also be a 'Jingle Bells Boulevard', from the Star Ferry to the Square. Street performances such as organ recitals and carol singing will also be organised.
Santa Claus will show up at Hong Kong International Airport and the Lo Wu Boundary Crossing to present visitors with season's greetings and the Activities Guide.
On December 3, more than 60 visitors acting as Santa Claus will travel from the United States to spread joy and good will to visitors and local residents in Hong Kong. From December 20 onwards, the Tourism Commission will stage the 'Symphony of Lights' !V a choreographed light and sound show - against the backdrop of Victoria Harbour. The Tourism Board has also produced the Hong Kong WinterFest Shopping and Dining Privileges guide featuring a collection of special offers for visitors. The Hong Kong Winterfest Activities Guide will be distributed at the HKTB Visitor Information & Services Centres and entry points as well as by the travel trade.
For further tourism information, please visit www.discoverhongkong.com
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 11:04 AM
Turnout rate exceeds 44% - a new record
At 10.30pm, the overall voter turnout rate of the 2003 District Council Election exceeded 44%, in line with a prediction Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam made hours earlier.
"The 2003 DC election may well turn out to be the highest ever voter turnout rate among all these previous elections. There is a possibility that the voter turnout rate will exceed 40%," Mr Lam said around 5pm today. "The second record is, this is likely to be the DC election which has attracted the highest absolute number of voters casting their votes," he added. He was proven correct: More than 1 million people voted in Hong Kong District Council elections today.
Mr Lam said the fact that the people of Hong Kong are showing a keen interest in District Council work and community services is a feature which will be helpful to the promotion and development of District Council services in years to come.
He said if Hong Kong people want to participate more in community affairs, this will help the Government in promoting a wider discussion within the community on the longer-term constitutional development in Hong Kong beyond 2007. Regarding the higher number of complaints received, Mr Lam said this is a result of a number of factors. Firstly, this year's election has the highest-ever number of directly elected seats - 400 seats in total - and secondly, it has a record high number of candidates participating, he said.
"Then because there is so much keen interest in the broader community in this round of District Council elections, naturally there will be a few more conflicts, a few more questions raised by opponents in the respective constituencies."
But on the whole, he said, the conduct of the election has been smooth. The traditions of fair and open elections have been maintained throughout the day.
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 11:05 AM
[B]Re-exports up 10.7% in September
The volume of Hong Kong's re-exports of goods grew 10.7% in September, over the same month last year, while domestic exports fell 6%, the Census & Statistics Department says. Taken together, the volume of total exports grew 9.3%, while the volume of imports rose 9.2%.
Comparing the first nine months of the year with the same period in 2002, the volume of Hong Kong's re-exports rose 16.3%, while domestic exports fell 9.8%. Taken together, the volume of total exports grew 13.9%, while imports rose 11.9%. Comparing the third quarter with the preceding quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, the volume of total exports was virtually unchanged.
Within this total, the volume of re-exports fell 0.6%, while domestic exports rose 8.2%. Concurrently, the volume of imports rose 2.2%.
Comparing September with the same month last year, the prices of re-exports of goods fell 1.8%, and those of domestic exports dropped 0.3%.
Taken together, the prices of total exports of goods fell 1.7%, while prices of imports of goods fell 0.9%.
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 11:10 AM
Outlook bright for digital entertainment industry
Digital entertainment, which emphasises knowledge, creativity and technology, is rapidly becoming a major high value-added industry in Hong Kong, Digital Entertainment Working Group chairman Sin Chung-kai says.
To realise its potential, we need to strengthen existing measures, as well as implement new initiatives to foster and support the industry's further development, he added.
Introducing the working group's report today, Mr Sin said the growing worldwide demand for digital entertainment products and the enormous opportunities afforded by the Mainland market have created a favourable environment for the local digital entertainment industry to develop and thrive.
HK capable of producing innovative films
The popular film My Life as McDull won the Cristal for best feature award in the Grand Prix Annecy 2003. This shows Hong Kong has the capability and talent to produce innovative, high quality digital entertainment content.
The working group has examined the situation in Hong Kong and elsewhere, and recommended a comprehensive package of measures to support the digital entertainment industry. For details, visit http://www.info.gov.hk/citb/ctb/english/it/digital_report.htm
Mr Sin noted that some of the measures have already been implemented in a timely manner. "The setting up of the Digital Media Centre and the Hong Kong Wireless Development Centre at the Cyberport in the next few months will facilitate the creation of digital entertainment content and testing of relevant applications," he said.
"The facilities will also help reduce the initial investment and operating costs of SMEs to enter this field."
18 funding applications received
The Innovation & Technology Fund has so far received 18 applications seeking funding support of more than $80 million for conducting digital entertainment-related researches.
Deputy Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology Betty Fung said the Government is committed to creating a favourable environment for the development of the digital entertainment industry.
"We will continue to work closely with industry and academia in implementing the working group's recommendations and in fostering the prosperous development of the digital entertainment industry in Hong Kong," she added.
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 11:12 AM
October sees record 1.7m visitors
A record 1,695,633 visitors came to Hong Kong in October, up 7% from last year and the highest ever recorded for a single month. The average occupancy rate across all categories of hotels and tourist guesthouses was 85%, the same as for October last year.
Performance was boosted by strong arrivals from the Mainland during the National Day 'Golden Week' holiday, as well as by the Tourism Board's promotional events.
The arrivals included 878,581 from the Mainland, an increase of 31.2% on last year. Cumulatively, arrivals from the Mainland over the first 10 months of 2003 showed 21.2% growth over 2002. The second highest number of arrivals came from Taiwan at 196,983, followed by 159,661 from South and Southeast Asia. For long-haul markets, Europe, Africa and the Middle East were the strongest October performers with 150,017 arrivals, a marked improvement on the 91,056 in September.
Full recovery not expected until next year
As October saw more business travel and trade fairs, High Tariff A hotels averaged 86% occupancy while hotels in Central and Admiralty had a 91% occupancy rate.
The average achieved room rate across all hotels strengthened to $919, although this is 2% lower than in October last year.
Cumulatively, occupancy for the first 10 months stood at 66%, compared with 83% for the same period last year, primarily due to the severe impact of SARS. The board does not expect a full recovery across all markets until mid-next year.
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 11:13 AM
Insurance industry sees steady improvement
Hong Kong's insurance business has been improving steadily, with the overall underwriting profit in the first three quarters amounting to $1.23 billion, double that of the same period last year. The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance said gross and net premiums of the general insurance business rose by 4.1% and 4.5% respectively, to $18.6 billion and $12.6 billion.
Property damage business continued to be the most profitable area of the industry, accounting for an underwriting profit of $600 million.
Pecuniary loss business returned to underwriting profit, earning $70 million, compared with a loss of $55 million in the first three quarters of last year. The recovery was attributable to a significant improvement in claims experience. The underwriting loss for the motor vehicle business was reduced to $45 million from $151 million, due to an improvement in the net-claims-incurred ratio and a reduction in the commission ratio.
General liability business sees stunning turnaroud
General liability business posted a profit of $220 million, compared with a loss of $147 million in the first three quarters of last year. The employees' compensation business recorded a profit of $39 million, against a loss of $315 million, owing to an increase in premium rates during the period. As for long-term in-force business, the total revenue premiums amounted to $55.2 billion in the first three quarters of this year, an increase of 11.7% over the same period last year. New office premiums (excluding retirement scheme business) amounted to $16.8 billion, representing an increase of 19.1% over the same period last year.
For more details of the provisional statistics, clickhere (http://www.info.gov.hk/oci/statistics/index04.htm)
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 11:16 AM
HK joins Microsoft's Gov't Security Programme
Hong Kong signed an agreement with Microsoft today to join the company's Government Security Programme, which enables the Government to know better the internal design and coding of Microsoft Windows products, the Information Technology Services Department says.
The three-year programme will also help enhance government technology and support capability in the use of products, and foster a better understanding of the integration of Microsoft products with other products.
The agreement does not, however, commit the Government on the use of Microsoft products.
Announced in January, the programme is a standing offer from Microsoft to permit government bodies to access without charge the software source codes and related information of various Microsoft Windows Operating System products subject to any US applicable export restrictions.
Full disclosure, Redmond trip on offer
Technical information and security documentation, which Microsoft does not otherwise share, will be disclosed to the government signatories.
Parties that sign the agreement are also offered the opportunity to visit Microsoft development facilities in Redmond, Washington, to meet with product development and security experts as well as review the Windows source-development process.
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 11:19 AM
Views sought on nutrition labelling
A labelling scheme could soon see nutrition information on all pre-packaged food products. The Government proposes to implement the move in two phases within five years. A public consultation will be held until January 31 to garner views on the scheme which is part of the Government's drive to enhance public health.
Deputy Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Eddy Chan today said the Government has taken into account many important factors in considering the scheme's scope and requirements.
He said a mandatory nutrition labelling scheme will help consumers make healthy food choices, encourage manufacturers to formulate foods with sound nutritional value, and regulate misleading or deceptive labels and claims. "Nutrition labelling is an international trend. Canada, for example, has taken 10 years to implement the scheme. But Hong Kong, which has a late start, wants to implement the scheme at a quicker pace," Mr Chan said.
With cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and obesity the major diseases suffered by Hong Kong people, Deputy Director of Food & Environmental Hygiene Dr Mak Sin-ping said the scheme will enhance awareness of good health and nutrition.
"Nutrition information on food labels is an important public health tool to promote a balanced diet," she said.
Implementation in two phases
In phase one, food suppliers can choose to carry nutrition information, or nutrient-related claims. But they are required to follow the nutrition labelling requirements specified in the legislation.
In phase two, the labelling requirements will apply to all pre-packaged food products unless otherwise exempted.
Considering the wide range of products that will be affected and their shelf lives, a two-year grace period will be allowed for phase one implementation after the legislation's enactment.
The second phase will be implemented three years after the full implementation of the first.
Nutrition labelling requirements
The proposal requires the labelling of energy plus nine core nutrients - protein, carbohydrate, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugars, dietary fibre, sodium and calcium - for all pre-packaged food.
Some items are exempt from the scheme, such as food packed in a container with an aggregated surface area of less than 100cm2, food sold at a catering establishment for immediate consumption, and baby food.
A series of public forums will be held during the consultation period to gauge public opinion.
Copies of the document are available at District Offices and District Environmental Hygiene Offices. The document can also be downloaded from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department'swebsite (http://www.fehd.gov.hk/safefood_2/nutrient/7.html)
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 01:42 PM
Walking trail facilities to be upgraded
The Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department will spend $7.5 million improving facilities in Hong Kong's country parks.
The measures include replacing black-and-white display boards along 50 popular walking trails with coloured ones that are furnished with photographs of scenic spots and more updated information.
A sure sign: Durable coloured display boards will provide updated information on country park walking trails. (Photos by Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department)
Since the SARS outbreak, more people have been visiting country parks and become more demanding on their facilities.
The old boards have been used for 20 years, and prolonged sunlight can blur their information, requiring their replacement every six months. The department will now use coloured boards made of more durable materials. In 2003-04, the department will replace all display boards along the 100-kilometre MacLehose Trail. It will be followed by the Wilson Trail and others.
The department will also renovate and improve the ventilation of 36 of our 46 country park toilets. More staff will be deployed to cleanse more regularly toilets that are more frequently used.
Three new toilets will be built in Pak Tam Au in Sai Kung, Sham Tseng in Tuen Mun and Tai Tong in Yuen Long by 2005. Seventy-four temporary toilets have been put in areas not suitable for installing toilets.
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 01:48 PM
Gov't committed to waste recovery
One man's junk... : Dry waste is sorted at the Waste Separation Pilot Facility, and sold to recyclers by tender - proving that properly sorted waste has value in the market.
The first eight months of a 12-month pilot scheme at four housing estates have seen about a tonne of dry waste a day collected and sold by tender to recyclers - proving there is value in sorting waste, the Secretary for Environment, Transport & Works told the Legislative Council today. Dr Sarah Liao told lawmakers that the scheme would be reviewed upon its completion in March to examine its feasibility, logistics and cost-effectiveness.
She stressed that, to achieve sustainable development, Hong Kong cannot reply on a single waste disposal method.
To reduce waste that must be disposed at landfills, the bureau has been actively promoting waste separation at source.
Commercial and industrial waste is primarily collected by cleaning contractors who deliver it to recyclers.
Several means available to separate waste at source
The public can separate waste by using the separation bins in public places and housing estates, usually for paper, plastic and aluminium. The pilot scheme at the four housing estates requires residents to sort their garbage into wet and dry waste. Dry waste is waste that is dry and un-contaminated. Recyclables such as waste paper, metal cans, plastic bottles, floppy disks, batteries, glass bottles, old clothes, baskets, pens and shoes are some examples. Wet waste is dirty waste that is not accepted in the dry waste bag. It includes food waste, contaminated paper and tissue, containers with food scraps, diapers and used personal hygiene items.
Most of the dry waste that is recovered are exported since only a few local recyclers actually carry out recycling locally, Dr Liao said.
Landfill needs still under evaluation
While such projects help relieve the pressure on landfills, the Government still must examine the feasibility of extending existing landfills or developing new ones - as well as adopting new waste-treatment facilities. In April 2002, the Government called for expressions of interest from the local and international waste management industry for technology options to develop large-scale waste-treatment facilities in Hong Kong.
An advisory group, made up mostly of non-officials, was set up in late 2002 to help evaluate the proposals received. They are reviewing the technology options and will make recommendations to the Government for public consultation.
Industry's development could spark job growth
The recycling industry here employs about 3,000 staff on a full-time basis, and another 20,000 who are casual labourers such as cleaners.
To facilitate and promote waste recovery - triggering job creation in the recycling industry - the Government is taking the following measures:
* continuously supporting and promoting waste-recovery business and community activities;
* trying out different forms of waste-recovery methods;
* strengthening public education and publicity on waste recovery;
* providing suitable land for lease to the recycling industry;
* planning to establish a 20-hectare recovery park in Tuen Mun to provide long-term land for recycling operations; and
* injecting $100 million into the Environment & Conservation Fund, for district organisations and green groups to organise community waste-recovery projects.
She cautioned that, because the recycling industry has about 30% spare capacity at the moment, its further development may not increase job opportunities instantly nor significantly.
City of Life
November 27th, 2003, 01:54 PM
Views sought on HK2030 study
Planning ahead: Permanent Secretary for Planning & Lands Carrie Lam outlines details of the third stage of the HK2030 public consultation.
Here is your chance to help shape Hong Kong's future.
Views are now being invited under stage three of the public consultation on HK2030: Planning Vision & Strategy.
Secretary for Housing, Planning & Lands Michael Suen said the Planning Department study aimed to create a framework for Hong Kong's physical development from now to year 2030. He called on the community to express views on the ideas put forward.
The ideas presented in the consultation booklet are only concepts.
Keeping HK Asia's world city
The consultation highlights three main planning directions to help Hong Kong maintain its status as Asia's world city. They are providing a quality living environment, enhancing economic competitiveness, and strengthening links with the Mainland.
The study has worked out some planning choices set out in the stage three consultation. They concern the optimal density of development, where new housing will be based, space for offices, and where to locate our new port and other major infrastructural facilities. The options are in turn presented as two broad development patterns - consolidation and decentralisation.
For the consolidation pattern, it assumes existing urban sites will continue to be developed and made full use of before new areas are developed for medium and long-term needs.
The decentralisation pattern envisages the earlier need for new development areas in the New Territories.
Numerous choices under study
"Planning invariably involves the making of choices. Our task is to present each of these choices and other relevant considerations so as to balance its costs and benefits for the community to consider," Mr Suen said, adding that the same principle applies to the harbour reclamation. "Similarly, the community as a whole has to reach a consensus on how to strike a balance between satisfying essential infrastructure needs and protecting the harbour."
A roving exhibition on the HK2030 Study will be held from December 1. There will also be a series of public forums, focus group meetings and District Council presentations.
The booklet is available at District Offices and can be viewed on the HK2030 website www.info.gov.hk/hk2030.
The consultation will last for four months, ending in March.
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 01:05 PM
HK and the UK agree to remove restrictions on air services
Hong Kong and the United Kingdom today (November 27) reached agreement on a new liberalised set of air traffic rights after three days of negotiations in Hong Kong.
The agreement provides for unlimited capacity on routes between Hong Kong and the UK, a comprehensive code-share arrangement, as well as additional fifth-freedom rights for both sides. They will be implemented after the UK has completed the necessary procedures with the European Union.
The Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Wilson Fung, who led the Hong Kong delegation, said he was very pleased with the outcome. He said that in pursuing the government's 'progressive liberalisation' policies on air services, the two sides had agreed to remove all existing capacity restrictions on air services between Hong Kong and the UK. "The new set of traffic rights liberalises air services, which will greatly enhance competition on this very important route and benefit the travelling public and consumers," Mr Fung said.
The package includes fifth-freedom rights for UK airlines to operate beyond Hong Kong to Sydney and for Hong Kong airlines to operate beyond London to New York.
"The equitable exchange of 'fifths' will enable airlines of the two sides to further expand their network, thus bringing more flights into and out of Hong Kong International Airport," said Mr Fung. He is optimistic the new package will contribute significantly to Hong Kong's aviation industry, to the overall economy as well as maintaining Hong Kong's role as an international aviation and logistics hub.
Ends/Thursday, November 27, 2003
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 01:12 PM
Yuan services to spur financial integration with mainland ( 28/11/2003 )
Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre has been further enhanced after being given the green light by Chinese mainland authorities to start offering yuan banking services from January 2004. Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam said that while much remains to be done, "this is a very good and promising start that will enhance Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre, and is a small step towards the creation of an offshore yuan banking service.
Under the agreement, banks in Hong Kong can provide yuan deposit, remittance, exchange and credit card services.
"The arrangement for Hong Kong banks to conduct yuan business will open a new channel for the flow of funds between Hong Kong and the mainland through the banking system," said Mr Yam. "This will be advantageous to the Hong Kong banking sector and increase its competitiveness."
Offshore yuan centre
Mr Yam said that Hong Kong is on the path to becoming a fully-fledged offshore centre for the yuan, with full convertibility to eventually follow. "It would be good for Hong Kong if it could become an offshore yuan market," said Tai Hui, economist at Standard Chartered Bank. "As the yuan is now being recognised in many countries, many foreign countries might wish to set up Hong Kong bank accounts for yuan transactions. Many could also see the benefits of setting up offices in Hong Kong as our legal and financial services can assist them doing business in China."
The main immediate beneficiary of the agreement will be the bank selected to establish a yuan clearing centre, which will channel yuan from Hong Kong to China. This would allow an outlet for the massive amounts of mainland currency circulating in Hong Kong (estimated to be 80 million yuan (HK$74 billion).
HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and the Bank of China (HK) have all stated their interest in providing a clearing centre.
The new agreement is also expected to boost mainland tourists' spending in Hong Kong as they will be able to use yuan credit cards.
Hong Kong Monetary Authority http://www.info.gov.hk/hkma/index.htm
More info on HK’s Banking & Finance Industry
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 01:16 PM
Arbitration strengths draw growing overseas clientele ( 28/11/2003 )
Hong Kong's international arbitration centre currently handles ten times the cases of its London counterpart, and with increasing numbers of mainland contracts stipulating Hong Kong as the venue for dispute resolution, this number is set to grow.
Three leading arbitration specialists recently spelled out their views on Hong Kong's growing international influence, its pivotal role in the Chinese mainland's commercial development, and the impact of Cepa on the industry.
Neil Kaplan QC, chairman of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), says Hong Kong benefits from a strong pool of dispute resolution professionals, its international business experience, as well as easy access to the full range of support services.
"Compared to other venues for arbitration in Asia, Hong Kong probably handles the largest number of cases in which neither party is local," Mr Kaplan said. Last year, disputes involving 13 Chinese mainland companies and three US companies were settled in Hong Kong. "This strongly indicates that businesses value Hong Kong as an independent, neutral arbitration venue," he said.
Philip Yang, a HKIAC governing council member and the next HKIAC chairman, said the Hong Kong Arbitration Ordinance is widely recognised as one of the most advanced arbitration statutes in the world.
"Arbitration awards made in Hong Kong are enforceable in more than 130 jurisdictions, including the mainland. With China's accession to the WTO and the opening of the country's interior to international commerce, Hong Kong is increasingly being stipulated in contracts as the venue for dispute resolution." Christopher To, HKIAC secretary-general, says Cepa further facilitates cooperation between Hong Kong and mainland lawyers. As a result, lawyers of both jurisdictions will better serve Hong Kong and foreign investors in the mainland market, which in turn enhances the standard of service in both places. Mr To said business people generally looked for three strengths in dispute resolution: the quality and independence of the courts or arbitration centres, the quality of the lawyers, and the extent to which the judgment or award may be enforced. "Hong Kong excels in all three of these areas," he said.
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 01:19 PM
Hong Kong's the place to be, says HSBC chairman ( 28/11/2003 )
Hong Kong has an unrivalled position to take advantage of the growing economic strength in China and the Asia region, HSBC Group chairman, Sir John Bond, told a group of top bankers recently. Speaking at a dinner hosted by the Hong Kong Association of Banks, Sir John said, "[B]I cannot see anywhere else in the world better equipped to address an exciting future as Asia, and China in particular, flex their economic muscles with Hong Kong at their heart." Sir John said Hong Kong's ability to adapt and change had given it a competitive edge in Asia and that recent developments supported a successful future.
"I am very confident about Hong Kong's future," he said, adding that lower labour costs, robust business services exports, new provisions on renminbi deposits and fewer restrictions on visitors from the mainland, had all boosted Hong Kong's competitiveness.
However, Sir John cautioned against expecting boom years in Hong Kong, saying that Hong Kong had reached a new stage of development. "We need to understand that it would be wholly unrealistic to expect the future to be like the past," said Sir John.
"Now that Hong Kong is one of the world's most affluent communities, it is clear that this type of growth cannot be repeated. It is natural for economic growth, in what is now a mature economy, to be lower than in a developing economy," he said.
Hong Kong well positioned to focus on high-end financial services
Sir John said the next phase of Hong Kong's development should include "attracting wealth from around the world in the form of funds management, private banking, all forms of investment savings."
"I believe that it was an excellent move for Hong Kong to allow residency based on an individual's investible funds; the economic benefits of attracting wealthy, talented people are overwhelming."
Sir John compared Hong Kong to Switzerland. "When I think about the future of Hong Kong, my mind doesn't do the conventional analysis with Singapore or Shanghai; it tends to stray to Switzerland." He said both places service a major hinterland and enjoy a standard of living that exceeds that of their hinterland. "Of course you have to give Hong Kong the edge here as a sovereign part of the world's fastest-growing economy," he added.
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 01:42 PM
Design Week attracts renowned international experts ( 28/11/2003 )
Renowned British designer Sir Terence Conran will join about 50 leading figures in the international design industry in Hong Kong for this year's Business of Design Week (BODW) which focuses on innovation, branding and promoting the use of design services in the business community. Organised by Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) and the Trade Development Council (TDC) from December 6-9, it will showcase outstanding projects from around the world with a particular focus on Asia.
Highlight of BODW is a conference called LifeStyleAsia that will include talks from about 50 industry experts, academicians and representatives from major international brands like Hermes, BMW, Philips Design and Japanese department store Muji.
Sir Terence Conran, designer, retailer and restaurateur who has greatly influenced the way the British have prepared and eaten their food and decorated their homes, is joined by other keynote speakers including Kenji Ekuan, a Japanese innovator best known for his industrial designs and Andrew Summers, former chief executive of UK-based Design Council.
Regional design hub
Victor Lo chairman of the HKDC's Board of Governors said BODW aims to educate businesses on how design can be applied, and the need to educate designers on how to think more about business.
He added that Hong Kong's role as a regional design hub is increasingly important with the recent signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa).
"With the sealing of Cepa between Hong Kong and China, cross border collaboration is expected to surge in the Pearl River Delta. As the design hub of the region, Hong Kong's role will be increasingly important as we move up the value chain to offer higher value design activities with our manufacturing counterparts in southern China," said Mr Lo. Other BODW events include a design fair taking place from December 3 to January 31 and the "Design of Asia Award" which aims to "recognise the outstanding achievements of companies for their innovative and pragmatic use of design that have created a major influence on Asian lifestyle." A panel of overseas and local judges will select from hundreds of nominations submitted by design institutes in the region.
More details about BODW at www.bodw.com.hk
Hong Kong Design Centre
More info on HK’s Design, Marketing, Licensing and Trade Fair Business
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 01:47 PM
High-tech team sheds new light on mobile phone market ( 28/11/2003 )
Hong Kong's technology expertise has captured international attention with a product invented and produced entirely by a team of local electronic engineers.
Semiconductor designer and manufacturer Solomon Systech Ltd has become a global market leader with its latest design, a single-chip OLED (organically light-emitting diode) driver controller that makes the display panels on mobile phones brighter and crisper.
The product is revolutionising the mobile phone market, with 15 million handsets expected to launch with the new technology this year alone. Motorola, KTF (Korean Telecom Freetel) and BENQ are among the leading cell-phone manufacturers to come on board.
"The technology adapts to a flexible screen so the applications are endless," says Humphrey Leung, Solomon Systech's president and managing director.
Solomon, founded in 1999, has recently strengthened its distribution network with additional channels in the US, Europe and South East Asia. Fully committed to research and development, the company last year recorded more than 70 new design awards for cellular phones, MP3, PDA and other display applications.
High calibre talent
Mr Leung says Hong Kong is well placed to take advantage of "enabling" technology such as semiconductor and biotechnology. "The China market offers huge possibilities for further developing Hong Kong's high-tech industries. With the growing interest in the mainland's high-tech telecommunications markets, Hong Kong-based companies are in an excellent position to recruit and retain high calibre talent from the local market." He said investing in high-tech industries is also building infrastructure for future generations, in line with the government's vision of Hong Kong as a hub for innovation and technology
"We are doing out best to promote Hong Kong's high-tech image by becoming recognised not only regionally, but also internationally," Mr Leung said. He added that the Hong Kong Science Park at Pak Shek Kok, where the company has its new headquarters, is helping to consolidate the electronics cluster and develop world-class high technology enterprises to compete and flourish in the global new economy.
"Hong Kong's advantages are its social infrastructure, its finance and law, the presence of high-grade services such as accounting, along with proximity and access to the Chinese mainland. These give Hong Kong an edge in comparison with the surrounding Asian countries."
More info on HK’s Information & Communications Technology
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 01:58 PM
Sharp upturn for exports, investors and business sentiment ( 28/11/2003 )
Its entrepreneurial spirit, ability to develop new markets and the 'Cepa-factor' has pushed Hong Kong up the rankings in a recent global survey, and into record territory on its export side.
An international survey of 6,600 business owners reflected a run of positive news in the Hong Kong economy, according to Kevin O'Shaughnessy, principal of accounting firm Grant Thornton that carried out the poll. "It is encouraging to see that Hong Kong stands out in the survey with a strong drive and initiative to develop new markets," he said, adding that, "Hong Kong's strong entrepreneurial spirit remains one of our competitive advantages."
Mr O'Shaughnessy said the Cepa free trade deal, coupled with the upswing in the global economy had also revived confidence in the Hong Kong business community.
Banks and luxury retailers recognise Hong Kong appeal
The rosy economic outlook is also attracting overseas companies, with banks and luxury retailers among the big names looking to use Hong Kong's business platform to serve the Asia region.
Three leading financial institutions - UK-based Lloyds TSB Group, Dublin-based DePfa Bank and US-based United Commercial Bank - recently opened representative offices adding to Hong Kong's strong international financial community. Luxury retailers have their eyes firmly on the China market, with Louis Vuitton, Prada, Christian Dior, Hermes and Ermenegildo Zegna all recently strengthening their Hong Kong presence. French underwear specialist, Hom, is also opening more stores. The recent liberalisation of visa requirements for mainland visitors has resulted in a surge of shopping tourists keen to use Hong Kong-based retailers to keep them abreast of international trends. Newcomers to Hong Kong include leading German toymaker NICI which is opening its flagship Asia Pacific store here and, leveraging on local experience, UK retailer French Connection Group plc has teamed up with Hong Kong partner I.T Ltd to open its first store in the territory.
Economist estimates fall well short, as record tonnage passes through Hong Kong
The buoyant economy was reflected in stronger than expected trade numbers. The value of exports rose 9.4 per cent in October year on year to nearly HK$165 billion (US$21.2 billion) far outstripping economists estimates of 6.8 per cent growth. Cumulative growth in the first ten months was 11.5 per cent on the same period in 2002.
Intra-Asia trade was particularly strong, with exports to the mainland, Taiwan and Thailand topping the list. Europe also showed positive gains. Hong Kong's International Airport was a major beneficiary, posting a record tonnage throughput of 262,000 tonnes in October, up five per cent on the previous year. Over the past 12 months, a record 2.62 million tonnes of cargo has passed through the airport, up nearly eight per cent year on year.
A record number of visitors arrived in Hong Kong in October. The total of 1.69 million was a 7 per cent increase on the same month last year.
More Cepa details
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 02:01 PM
Cepa opens new opportunities for securities industry ( 28/11/2003 )
The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa) has brought new opportunities to Hong Kong's securities sector and will help promote financial cooperation between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, according to Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Frederick Ma.
An agreement was reached recently between the Securities and Futures Commission and the China Securities Regulatory commission, under the guidelines of Cepa. From 1 January 2004, the procedures will be simplified for Hong Kong-based professionals applying in the mainland for securities and futures industry qualifications.
Speaking at a seminar recent for the securities industry, Mr Ma said the new agreement would directly benefit the industry.
"Professional services are one of Hong Kong's many competitive advantages," said Mr Ma. "Cepa has created certain conditions for professionals to practise and expand their businesses on the mainland.
"This agreement under Cepa will facilitate exchange of talents and strengthen Hong Kong's status as the capital formation centre for the Chinese mainland," said Mr Ma. "Additionally, the setting up of a representative office in Beijing by the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd under Cepa will be conducive to attracting more mainland enterprises to list in Hong Kong. This will enhance the development of Hong Kong's financial market and bring more opportunities to the local securities industry."
Mr Ma said that Cepa had instilled new impetus into Hong Kong's economy and increased its competitiveness. It has also enabled the mainland to attract more capital and professionals from Hong Kong.
CEPA for overseas companies
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 02:04 PM
New logistics centre enhances Hong Kong's gateway role ( 28/11/2003 )
The complementary relationship between the Pearl River Delta (PRD) and Hong Kong took another big step forward with the recent opening of the Air Cargo Consolidation Centre (ACCC) on the Chinese mainland by the SAR's foremost airfreight handler Hongkong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd (Hactl).
Lying just O.5 km from Hong Kong's Lok Ma Chau border, in Shenzhen's Futian Free Trade Zone, this cargo handling facility enables Hactl to gain a long awaited foothold in the Chinese mainland's manufacturing heartland and further enhances Hong Kong's position as the premier gateway to the mainland. Developed by Hongkong Air Cargo Industry Services (Hacis) - a wholly owned subsidiary of Hactl - in strategic partnership with the Airport Authority, the logistics centre is part of the SuperLink China Direct service portfolio. This innovative service, launched in mid-2000, was set up specifically to enhance connectivity between Hong Kong and the catchment areas in the PRD by providing daily scheduled consolidated trucking services in conjunction with fast track customs clearance. The role of the ACCC is that of a bulk cargo receiving depot for cargo destined for Hactl's Super Terminal 1.
Streamline cargo flow
"ACCC is an exciting project which will boost the efficiency of handling and transportation of cargo from factories throughout the PRD to Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). This is great news for exporters and cargo agents who demand time-assured reliability," explains Summit Chan, Director, Corporate Development, Hactl.
The ACCC is able to capture the cargoes at source, thereby facilitating the flow of goods to HKIA and upholding Hong Kong's position as the primary cargo gateway for the mainland. It also helps to streamline the existing handling and transportation of south bound air cargo crossing the border from the PRD to Hong Kong, thereby further enhancing the connectivity within the HKIA catchment area.
"Cargo agents benefit from reduced resource requirements and hence cost savings in their Hong Kong warehousing operations. This direct delivery from PRD factories to HKIA also adds up to considerable time savings by missing out warehousing in Hong Kong," says Mr Chan. Hactl calculates this can add up to a saving of as much as 20% in transportation and handling costs as there is also no need for the more expensive double-license trucks.
Currently, ACCC is in Phase 1 - the "proof of concept" stage - of its operations with Phase 2 of operations scheduled to begin in 2004. Phase 2 will cover acceptance of pre-packed units and cargo consolidation within the centre. "The response from the industry has been very encouraging and we are now in negotiations with Mainland authorities on the requirements for phase 2. We are also considering other locations in the PRD for setting up similar facilities to serve other catchment areas," concludes Mr Chan.
More info on HK’s Transport & Logistics
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 02:08 PM
Financial springboard to China ( 28/11/2003 )
Lloyds TSB, one of Britain's best-known financial services groups, has reaffirmed its faith in Hong Kong as a springboard to business in the Chinese mainland and as the banking and financial services hub of Asia.
"We consider Asia a highly attractive market for our group and a great place to do business - especially here in Hong Kong," said Maarten van den Bergh, chairman of Lloyds TSB Group plc, inaugurating an Offshore Representative Office for the group's Overseas Club in the SAR recently.
The Overseas Club was launched worldwide in 1988 and is a vehicle for Lloyds TSB to offer additional offshore banking services to its customers.
"I believe that Hong Kong has an excellent future. Its location, its reputation particularly in the area of financial and trans-shipping services, and its wealth of qualified, well educated and skilful people form a wonderful combination, which over time should provide a resumption of healthy economic growth.
"Hong Kong is par excellence the entry port to China, which makes the city very attractive to us. China is a country which nobody who is in banking can disregard."
Lloyds TSB has been doing business in Hong Kong for over 40 years. Mr van den Bergh says the fundamentals in Asia remain strong, and foresees positive growth for offshore banking services in the region.
"I have faith and confidence in the resiliency, drive and energy of Asian people. We are already seeing the shoots of a recovery here in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the region."
Andrew Wenham, manager of the Representative Office, said Hong Kong was Lloyd's core base in Asia, accounting for its largest number of customers.
"Hong Kong is the hub of Asia and we look forward to servicing the whole of the region from here," he said.
Stephen Richards Evans, regional chief executive for Asia, said Lloyds TSB has been providing sophisticated private banking services throughout the region for many years. "The opening of the Offshore Representative Office will allow customers to have an even greater choice of our best services."
He added that the Overseas Club hoped to target expatriates in China - not only Europeans but also overseas Chinese from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia who had moved to the mainland to work.
"We are now providing them with an even better service right on their doorstep."
More info on HK’s Banking & Finance
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 02:28 PM
Centenary book tells of a city on the rise ( 28/11/2003 )
Hong Kong's leading English daily The South China Morning Post (SCMP) recently celebrated its 100th anniversary with a centenary book telling the story of a city on the rise and providing glimpses of many facets of Hong Kong through the lenses of its talented news photographers.
Author, Kevin Sinclair, a veteran Hong Kong journalist of 35 years, said Post Impressions, packed with 360 powerful images in black and white "charts Hong Kong's evolution over ten turbulent decades and aims to present the Hong Kong story through a collection of vivid images." "It was a century of turbulence, of achievements, of tribulation. We did not attempt to do a history book. Rather we were looking for pictures which illustrated the Hong Kong experience over the past 100 years, the changing face of transport, education, housing and the lighter side like sports and entertainment," explained Mr Sinclair. He worked with a team of researchers and editors and sieved through over 150,000 photos in the Posts archives and the archives of the government and public bodies.
Indomitable Hong Kong spirit
Mr Sinclair was often lost in the Post's library late at night, clicking through rolls of microfilm, lost somewhere 70 years ago. "So many photos tell Hong Kong's story. There's a picture of three old ladies enjoying cigarettes, timeless faces reflecting the indomitable spirit of Hong Kong. Then there are the diversified faces of enterprise, of tycoons past and present, who have helped build Hong Kong, and the constantly changing Hong Kong skyline which provides a glittering harbour backdrop," said Mr Sinclair.
He added that many stories of how "the city confronted and overcame challenges are also told in the book from typhoons that took the lives of thousands in a day to severe water shortages."
The Post Impressions cover of the annual cross harbour swim which used to be a fun fixture on the sporting calendar in the 60s and 70s, was chosen because "it is a unique image that could only be Hong Kong in a certain time in a certain place."
SCMP's anniversary publications also included a newspaper supplement which told the story of the paper followed by a 108-year history magazine and a Sunday edition tracing Hong Kong's history decade by decade.
"Anybody who has lived in Hong Kong realises that SCMP is very much a part of our society. The company is very tightly linked with the business community as information is the lifeblood of commerce and the paper is also very close to the community through charities and the annual Christmas drive to raise money for the unfortunate," added Mr Sinclair.
Click through stunning images of Post Impressions and order online at http://photo.scmp.com/centenary
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 02:36 PM
First-class fundamentals fuel wealth creation ( 28/11/2003 )
Anric Blatt, the managing director of Infiniti Capital, has worked in Hong Kong's financial services industry for over seven years. Together with his partners, he recently set up Infiniti Capital to provide premium wealth management solutions to both private and institutional clients. The Namibian-born financier believes Hong Kong is one of the world's most dynamic and efficient financial centres - and one that offers "extras" like rugged mountains with panoramic sea views and secluded beaches.
"Without risk of overstating the obvious, Hong Kong really is one of the world's greatest financial centres. Hong Kong's fundamentals are well known: free flow of capital and information, an independent judiciary based on the rule of law, clean and efficient government, a simple and low tax regime, and state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure. In addition, there is a paperless clearing settlement and custodian system operated by the Central Money Markets Unit (CMU) in the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).
More specifically, Hong Kong has the critical mass of talents including a large pool of qualified professionals, world-class financial infrastructure and abundant liquidity. People are eager and keen to work and place high value on providing a wide range of innovative financial services. With so many talents located so close to each other, this hubbing effect is wealth-creating.
The co-operation between Hong Kong and the central government to put the Pearl River Delta (PRD) area at the forefront of an expansive development strategy should further strengthen Hong Kong's position as a trading intermediary, whether through passage of physical goods or as a provider of key services. There is also the substantial service economy that enables us to capitalise on the enhanced trade flows between China and the wider world, leading to growth in demand for Hong Kong's financial and insurance services. With these tremendous advantages in our favour, we should not lose sight of the fact that we are the main strategic gateway to one of the fastest-growing regions in the world.
Ideal location for financial services
It's against this backdrop of important factors that makes Hong Kong such an ideal location to develop and distribute Infiniti Capital services, which focus on well diversified, actively managed funds that fit into a client's asset allocation strategy and deliver what they set out to achieve. Finances are an important part of our lives and in Hong Kong people are very aware of their investment options.
An integral part of the Infiniti proposition is investor education. We believe in empowering our clients to act out their own aspirations, allowing them to maintain a well-balanced overall approach to their financial security. We call it 'going naked' with our clients. They know that if we do not make money for them, we will not be charging them a fee.
However, Hong Kong is not only about all work and no play. It is certainly one of the world's most vibrant cities but it is also a kaleidoscope of art and culture, where old and new, history and heritage, meet at every turn. Many of my visitors are surprised to discover that nearly 70 per cent of Hong Kong's total area is made up of open land and much of this has been officially conserved as country parks - one of the world's highest ratios of designated parkland.
Even though I am one of only a handful of Namibian-born Hong Kong ID (identification) holders, during the recent Rugby World Cup, people of all nationalities were cheering with me for the tournament underdogs. To me this shows the true cosmopolitan nature of Hong Kong - we live in a fantastic city."
More info on HK’s Banking & Finance Industry
City of Life
November 28th, 2003, 02:39 PM
Hong Kong: capital formation hub for mainland firms ( 28/11/2003 )
The first Chinese insurance company to list its shares outside the mainland surpassed all expectations in the largest share offering in Hong Kong this year highlighting the SAR's paramount role as a fund-raising centre for mainland companies.
PICC Property and Casualty raised HK$5.4 billion (US$694 million) and saw its stock jump 50 percent as it made its debut on Hong Kong's main board. The PICC initial public offering (IPO), the first by a mainland financial institution, marks a new stage in the restructuring underway in China, and comes ten years after the listing of the first H-share company in Hong Kong. (H shares enable mainland-based enterprises to list on the SAR's stock market).
"I think more and more Chinese companies understand why Hong Kong is their first choice for overseas listing. It is one of China's stock markets - their home market. If companies want convertible, transferable funds, they should choose Hong Kong," said Richard Peng, senior vice-president of the China development and listing promotion unit of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEx).
Talented pool of professionals
Hong Kong's capital market has reached international standards in all respects, Mr Peng added. "Not to mention the huge pool of financial professionals such as accountants, lawyers, investment consultants and market analysts here."
"Generally speaking, mainland-based enterprises and mainland-affiliated enterprises play a significant role in the Hong Kong financial market as they provide more investment choices to investors here," said a HKEx spokesman.
Analysts believe that by broadening the range of listed stocks the listing of mainland insurance companies will have a positive impact on the stock market, resulting in a more balanced mix of stocks and further enhancing Hong Kong's role as an international financial centre.
Listing of mainland companies to continue
PICC, the largest of the three mainland property insurers, is expected to be followed by the two top mainland giants in the life insurance field. Both Ping An Insurance and China Life plan to list in Hong Kong in the near future.
"The market capitalisation of mainland-based (H-share) or mainland-affiliated (red chip) companies listed on the main board and the secondary Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) now accounts for more than a quarter of the total market capitalisation and the turnover of these enterprises now accounts for nearly 40 percent of total turnover," said the stock exchange spokesman.
"We have seen mainland-based enterprises from a wide range of industries list in Hong Kong and we expect that trend to continue. We believe the trend of mainland-based enterprises, state-owned or private, listing in Hong Kong will continue."
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd
More info on HK’s Banking & Finance Industry
City of Life
December 11th, 2003, 06:39 PM
Integrated circuit design spurs Science Park development
The 40-plus companies that have moved to the Hong Kong Science Park plan to create 2,500 jobs and invest some $1.8 billion in the first three years of their operation, the Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, said today (December 2).
Speaking at the opening of the Innovation Centre and Photonics Centre, Mr Tung said it was extremely gratifying to see the formation of industrial clusters within the Science Park, led notably by the integrated circuit design sector.
"This encouraging situation is not the result of chance, but that of a vision supported by meticulous and competent execution by the Board of Directors and the management of the Science Park," he said.
"In this process we are seeing the collaboration between industry and universities, the availability of first class technical infrastructure support within the Science Park, the convergence of leading companies and institutions, notably the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) on this campus, and the spawning of technology start-ups."
Mr Tung said these developments had provided a solid foundation for the Science Park to move on to strengthen its support for industry, get on with new technology focuses, and pursue the development of the park's second phase.
The Chief Executive commended the Science Park for selecting the right technology focuses in IC design and photonics because of their wide industrial application and considerable strengths in Hong Kong.
The electronics industry is Hong Kong's largest merchandise export earner, accounting for nearly 40% of total merchandise exports or some $610 billion in value in 2002.
IC design is also a high value-added segment in supporting the production of critical components for Hong Kong's vibrant electronics industry.
"With the vast need of the Pearl River Delta's industrial activities and our robust legal and enforcement regime for the protection of intellectual property, IC-design based activities are playing to Hong Kong's strength," Mr Tung said.
The same could also be said about photonics with its applications in telecommunications, data-communications, consumer electronics, interconnect, packaging and display, offers good opportunities for Hong Kong industries.
End/Tuesday, December 2, 2003
City of Life
December 11th, 2003, 06:42 PM
HK signs double-taxation avoidance pact with Belgium
The Government today (December 10) signed an Agreement with Belgium for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital.
It is the first comprehensive double-taxation avoidance agreement (CDTA) concluded by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.
Representing an important milestone in Hong Kong's CDTA efforts, the Agreement will bring about tax savings to Hong Kong and Belgian investors doing businesses in each other's area in respect of certain income, and provide a further level of certainty in tax liabilities. It will thus help to promote investment and trade between the two places.
The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Frederick Ma, signed the Agreement on behalf of the HKSAR Government. The Belgian Government was represented by its Minister of Finance, Mr Didier Reynders.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr Ma noted the Agreement's importance. "The Agreement ensures that investors will not have to pay tax twice on a single source of income," he said. "In simple terms, the Agreement will translate into tax savings to Belgian and Hong Kong investors doing business in each other's area, through the allocation of taxing rights between the two places and the provision of tax relief in case of double taxation."
In the absence of a CDTA, profits earned by Belgian residents in Hong Kong have been subject to both Hong Kong and Belgian income taxes. Profits derived by Belgian companies from Hong Kong by doing business here through a permanent establishment (such as a branch) are subject to both Hong Kong profits tax and Belgian income tax. Belgian tax authorities provide relief in the form of a 50% reduction in Belgian income tax for such income derived by Belgian individuals. Under the Agreement, Belgium will eliminate double taxation by providing full exemption to Belgian residents (companies and individuals alike) for such income.
Also, in the absence of a CDTA, royalties received by a Hong Kong resident from a Belgian source not attributable to a permanent establishment in Belgium are currently subject to a Belgian withholding tax at 15% on the gross amount of royalties less a 15% fixed deduction. Under the Agreement, the Belgian withholding tax will be reduced to 5% of the gross amount of royalties (without the 15% fixed deduction).
In the case of interest received by a Hong Kong resident that arises in Belgium and is not attributable to a permanent establishment in Belgium, the Belgian withholding tax will be reduced from 15% of the gross amount of interest to 10% under the Agreement.
Profits from international shipping transport earned by Hong Kong residents that arise in Belgium, which are currently subject to income tax in Belgium, will enjoy exemption under the Agreement. "The Agreement also formalises the tax relief being offered by the two tax authorities at present, thus providing a further level of certainty and stability to existing and potential investors alike," Mr Ma said.
As a result, it will provide added incentives for businesses in Hong Kong and Belgium to enhance their cross border investments or activities, thus fostering closer economic ties between the two places.
Mr Ma said the Government was keen to establish a network of CDTAs with Hong Kong's major trading and investment partners.
"Many places in the region have already established a network of CDTAs," Mr Ma explained. "Having such a network in place for Hong Kong will put us on a par with other places in the region that already have one, thereby further enhancing our competitiveness in attracting foreign investment."
End/Wednesday, December 10, 2003
City of Life
December 11th, 2003, 06:44 PM
Leading international exhibition company expands in HK
Messe Frankfurt, Germany's biggest trade fair and exhibition organiser in terms of revenue and profit, and owner of the third biggest exhibition centre in the world, is expanding its regional headquarters in Hong Kong. This is in response to increasing exhibition activities and strong market potential in Hong Kong and Mainland China.
"The success of our Hong Kong operation has meant dynamic growth in staff and resources," Mr Stephan Buurma, Messe Frankfurt's Managing Director Hong Kong and Financial Director-Asia Pacific, told a media briefing today (December 10).
"For example, we have made additional investment in local expertise and technology during 2003 with the introduction of a new online trading platform, SmartSource -- allowing buyers to source fabrics at any time from anywhere in the world.
"With the rapid development of our business, we plan to increase our staff in Hong Kong by around 25% next year," Mr Buurma added.
Messe Frankfurt began doing business in Hong Kong in 1987 by organising Interstoff Asia, an international fabric trade fair held every autumn. In response to the overwhelming success of Interstoff Asia, Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd. was established in 1994. A spring edition of Interstoff Asia was added in 1996, followed by more fairs for other industries. Messe Frankfurt (HK) also has successfully arranged for the ASEAN Federation of Textile Industries (AFTEX) to hold its annual garment, accessories and machinery sourcing exhibition, Source It, outside of ASEAN -- in Hong Kong -- for the next five years. Source It will run concurrently with Interstoff Asia Spring.
"Hong Kong is the natural choice of location for Source It," said Ms Katy Lam, Director of Trade Fairs for Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd. "The city is a gateway to both Mainland China and the rest of the world. There is simply nowhere better located or with better knowledge of the international textile and garment business.
"The combination of Source It and Interstoff Asia Spring will further strengthen the position of the local industry and demonstrate Hong Kong's position as a world trading hub -- especially for clothing and textiles. The interaction between exhibitors and buyers on-site will generate real business and create long-term prospects for investment in Hong Kong," she said.
Invest Hong Kong's acting Director-General of Investment Promotion, Mr Simon Galpin, congratulated Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd. on its success and its contribution to the trade fair and exhibition business in Hong Kong.
"Messe Frankfurt's expansion in Hong Kong reinforces our city's position as the trade fair and global sourcing hub in this region," he said. "Our proximity to the Pearl River Delta manufacturing base is a real plus, making it easy for buyers to visit exhibitors' factories to see the production facilities and view product samples.
"At the same time, an increasing number of representatives from Mainland Chinese wholesale and retail chains are attending Hong Kong trade fairs to source foreign products. In 2002, trade fair exhibitors and visitors from Mainland China surged 32% to 70,000, compared with the 7.4% increase in the total overseas trade fair attendance. We forecast the figure for this year will be even higher than last year.
"With the opening of the new exhibition centre at the Airport in 2005-06, a greater number and wider range of events are expected to come to Hong Kong."
End/Wednesday, December 10, 2003
City of Life
December 11th, 2003, 06:51 PM
New $100, $500 banknotes available Dec 15
The new series of $100 and $500 banknotes will be put into circulation and available for exchange in all branches of the three note-issuing banks from December 15.
New notes for the remaining three denominations - $20, $50 and $1,000 - will go into circulation in the second half of next year. All existing banknotes will continue to circulate as legal tender.
Leaflets explaining and illustrating the security features of the new banknotes are available at branches of the three note-issuing banks and the Monetary Authority.
For more information, visit the authority's website: www.hkma.gov.hk
City of Life
December 11th, 2003, 06:53 PM
Retail business grows 4.6% in October
Retail business improved in October, with the overall volume of retail sales rising 4.6% over a year earlier - the largest increase since January.
The growth was also notably faster than the 1% growth recorded in September.
The improvement was widespread across most of the retail outlet types. This may be owing to the continued notable growth in visitors, particularly those from the Mainland
Better sentiment and improved employment conditions may also lead to a further pick-up in local consumer spending.
Total retail sales at $14.6 billion
Announcing the statistics today, the Census & Statistics Department said the value of total retail sales in October was provisionally estimated at $14.6 billion, an increase of 3.8% compared with the same period last year.
However, taking the first 10 months of this year together, retail sales declined by 3.9% in value, or 1.8% in volume, as compared to a year earlier.
Electrical goods saw largest increase
In terms of type of retail outlets, sales of electrical goods and photographic equipment increased the most, by 32.2% in volume.
On the other hand, sales of motor vehicles and parts and of fuels dropped by 25.8% and 2.8% respectively in volume in October compared with a year earlier.
Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the overall volume of retail sales increased by 6.3% in the three months ending October as compared to the preceding three-month period
City of Life
December 11th, 2003, 06:57 PM
Foreign currency reserves top US$114b
Hong Kong's official foreign-currency reserve assets amounted to US$114.1 billion at the end of last month, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority says - up from October's $112.4 billion.
Including unsettled forward contracts, the foreign-currency reserve assets at the end of November also stood at US$114.1 billion. At the end of October, the sum was US$112.4 billion.
The total foreign-currency reserve assets represent about seven times the currency in circulation, or 41% of Hong Kong dollar M3.
Hong Kong is the world's fifth-largest holder of foreign currency reserves, after Japan, the Mainland, Taiwan and Korea.
City of Life
December 11th, 2003, 07:00 PM
HK households embrace PCs, Internet
Wired world: The use of computers and the Internet gains popularity in HK, where more than two-thirds of all households have a PC.
Hong Kong now ranks among world cities with the highest PC and broadband penetration rates in the world. According to the Census & Statistics Department, more than two-thirds of all households - 67.5% - have personal computers, and 60% have Internet connections.
The figures represent significant increases over a year earlier, when just 62.1% of households had a PC and only 52.5% had Internet. The surveys show that PC usage is higher among young people, the better-educated and students.
Online government services are gaining popularity, too: 24.3% of people aged 15 and over now use the services, up from just 18.1% last year.
The population has also embraced online business services - so-called "e-business". About 93.6% of people aged 15 and over had used such services, up one percentage point over last year.
Users take 'slowly, slowly' approach to online purchasing services
Online purchasing has yet to catch on in Hong Kong: Only 7% of people aged 15 and over used the services, up slightly from the 4.9% recorded last year.
PC and Internet use in the business sector remained stable, although there was a drop in the business receipts from selling goods, services or information electronically. This may be due to the recent economic downturn, accompanied by the decline in GDP.
The poor economic climate may also have dampened business interest in purchasing new computer equipment. This in turn would have an impact on corporate use of PCs and the Internet.
Number of companies using Internet grow
The findings showed that 94.2% of large establishments, 87.7% of medium ones and 50% of smaller companies used PCs. The corresponding figures for last year were 94.6%, 76.6% and 50.7%.
There was an acros-the-board increase in the number of companies with Internet connections, though. About 85.1% of large establishments had them, up from 82.6% a year ago; 78.2% of medium firms had them, up from 66.1%; and 43% of smaller companies had them, up from 40.5%.
About 13.5% of the establishments had a Web page or Web site, representing a slight increase over 11.8% last year. Only 8.9% of them used it as a channel for online ordering of their products and services, though.
Efforts to promote IT application continue
This year also saw other e-commerce activities - such as ordering/purchase and receipt of goods, services or information through electronic means in the business sector - maintain a steady growth despite the economic downturn.
While the Government will continue to partner with IT bodies and non-governmental organisations to encourage different sectors of the community to use IT, efforts to help the industry, especially small and medium enterprises, will be made to explore the full potential and benefits of IT in advancing their business interests.
The Government is also actively pursing its e-government programme by providing 90% of the public services that are amenable to it online. This will help drive the adoption of e-commerce in the business sector.
City of Life
December 11th, 2003, 07:02 PM
Port cargo throughput up 3% in Q3
Total port cargo throughput increased 3% in the third quarter to 51.8 million tonnes, over the same period last year.
Within this total, inward port cargo rose 1% to 31.5 million tonnes, while outward port cargo rose 5% to 20.3 million tonnes. On a seasonally adjusted quarter-to-quarter comparison, total port cargo throughput was up 3%. Within this total, both inward and outward port cargo rose 3%.
Hong Kong's port handled 5.3 million TEUs of containers, up 1% on last year. Within this total, laden containers rose 2% to 4.2 million TEUs, but empty containers were down 6% to 1 million TEUs. On a seasonally adjusted quarter-to-quarter comparison, laden container throughput was down 1%. Within this, inward laden containers fell 1%, while outward laden containers remained unchanged.
The number of ocean vessel arrivals were up 7% to 9, 000, with the total capacity increasing 8% to 76.7 million net registered tons.
However, river vessel arrivals fell 2% to 45,830 but rose 10% in capacity to 21.6 million net registered tons over the same period.
City of Life
December 11th, 2003, 07:05 PM
HK vigilant against polio
The Department of Health and the World Health Organisation agree that the Western Pacific, though declared polio-free, cannot afford to lower its guard until global eradication of the disease has been achieved.
Speaking at the WHO Western Pacific Region Poliomyelitis Laboratory Network's workshop, being held in Hong Kong this week, the organisation's Dr Kazunobu Kojima said the Western Pacific Region has been certified as polio-free since 2000.
"Considering the fact that there are still at least four polio-endemic countries in the world, the importance of maintaining vigilance remains unchanged," he said, adding that until global eradication is certified, the region remains at risk from the possible importation of wild poliovirus.
"To prevent this, we need to maintain a highly sensitive acute flaccid paralysis surveillance and global polio laboratory network," he said.
His view was shared by Deputy Director of Health Dr Leung Pak-yin who also attended the workshop.
"We have undertaken to be one of the co-organisers because we recognise that proficiency in laboratory detection of poliovirus is one of the essential elements in achieving the goal of eradication," Dr Leung said.
The department has been collaborating with the WHO on various programmes, including polio eradication. He believed the workshop will also help foster a good spirit of collaboration in the region.
City of Life
December 11th, 2003, 07:07 PM
Energy programmes save $330m
Hong Kong has saved about $330 million last year by reducing total power consumption through the implementation of energy saving programmes. Secretary for the Environment, Transport & Works Dr Sarah Liao told the Legislative Council today the Government's effort in managing energy demand is mainly focused on reducing consumption by encouraging people to use more efficient equipment.
The Government also encourages consumers to even out demand over different hours of a day to optimise the efficiency of electricity generation, transmission and distribution facilities.
Apart from educational and promotional programmes that raise public awareness, Dr Liao said the Government is implementing a wide range of programmes that directly or indirectly help reduce overall energy consumption.
The major initiatives include:
* the Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme, which equips consumers with energy consumption information of various products to help them make informed choices;
* promoting water-cooled air-conditioning systems, which are more efficient than air-cooled ones;
* the Efficiency Registration Scheme for Buildings, underpinned by five sets of Building Energy Codes, is a voluntary registration scheme that encourages innovative energy efficiency design in commercial buildings; and,
* Government departments and bureaux are encouraged to set a good example and reduce energy consumption as far as possible.
In parallel, she said the Government entered into a three-year Demand Side Management Agreement with each power company in May 2000.
The rebate programmes under the agreement provide financial incentives to encourage non-residential users to install more energy efficient equipment and devices to shift part of the electricity demand to non-peak hours.
City of Life
December 12th, 2003, 06:43 PM
Law change to boost corporate governance
An ordinance amendment is set to enhance Hong Kong's corporate governance regime and make company law more business-friendly.
The Companies (Amendment) Ordinance 2003 (save for section 67 relating to the index of directors) will become effective on February 13.
The Financial Services & the Treasury Bureau said that when brought into operation, the law will ensure that our companies legislation continues to provide Hong Kong with a commercial legal infrastructure that is commensurate with our status as a major international commercial centre. The ordinance implements recommendations that seek to enhance the protection of shareholders' rights, update the requirements regarding directorships, and make some technical amendments.
It also introduces some changes to the Companies Ordinance to simplify filing requirements and to facilitate electronic processing at the Companies Registry, in anticipation to the operation of its Integrated Companies Registry Information System.
The bureau said Phase I of system, which allows customers to conduct online searches on documents kept by the Companies Registry around-the-clock, is at an advanced stage. Services should start early next year.
City of Life
December 12th, 2003, 06:46 PM
HK's budding growth gaining momentum: FS
Hong Kong's economy is rebounding and the budding growth is gaining strong momentum, Financial Secretary Henry Tang says.
Concluding the year on a bright note today at the Exporters' Association Christmas Luncheon, Mr Tang said: "2003 is no doubt a roller-coaster year for Hong Kong. But I have always had a fundamental faith in our community and our people. And what we have witnessed in the past few months is again how Hong Kong's resilience and can-do spirit outshines the challenges."
With the signing of CEPA, the launch of the individual visit scheme for Mainland travellers, and the personal reminbi businesses trial, Mr Tang said Hong Kong is continuing to grow.
"I am cautiously optimistic that Hong Kong's economy has turned the corner, and our budding growth is gaining strong momentum. What we now have to do is to make the best of these opportunities to sustain our economic recovery."
City of Life
December 12th, 2003, 06:49 PM
West Rail to open on December 20
The West Rail, linking the Northwest New Territories and West Kowloon, will start operation at 2pm on December 20, KCRC chairman Michael Tien announced today.Mr Tien said this decision followed the completion of six weeks' fault-free trial operations, during which average daily punctuality reached 99% while average daily service delivery reached 99.6%.
This was well above the minimum criteria of 95% punctuality and 97.5% service delivery. "All statutory inspections have been completed. The Chief Inspector of Railways has also advised that West Rail is in a safe and sound condition for passenger operations," he said.
Charity rides will be offered on December 17 and 18 to help passengers familiarise themselves with the new rail service - and to benefit local charitable organisations.
On these two days, fares will be slightly higher than normal. For adults, it will be $15, and $7.50 for the elderly and children.
For details regarding the new rail service, click here. For changes in public transport services upon the new rail's opening, click here (http://www.kcrc.com/eng/corporate/project/index.asp?page=Intro)
Tien reappointed KCRC chairman for two years
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa has re-appointed Michael Tien as the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation chairman for two years from December 24.
Secretary for the Environment, Transport & Works Dr Sarah Liao welcomed the re-appointment.
She said Mr Tien has demonstrated his leadership and dedication in overseeing KCRC operations since his appointment in December 2001. He has also been instrumental in enhancing its corporate governance.
"In the coming years, the corporation will continue to face a lot of challenges arising from new railway projects and further development of railway services," she said.
"I look forward to the continued contribution and co-operation from Mr Tien."
City of Life
December 12th, 2003, 06:54 PM
Year of the Monkey stamps to be issued
Perfect pair: A gold and silver stamp sheetlet on the ram and monkey will be issued on January 4.
Special stamps for the upcoming Year of the Monkey will be issued on January 4. The colourful stamps will highlight the lively spirit of the creature and incorporate traditional Chinese paper cutting techniques to bring out the festive spirit of the Lunar New Year.
Other goodies available include mint stamps, souvenir sheets, imperforated stamp sheetlets, presentation packs, picture cards and first-day covers.
A gold and silver stamp sheetlet on two of the 12 signs of the Chinese horoscope - the Ram and the Monkey - will also be issued.
The stamps are embossed and hot-foiled respectively with genuine 22-carat gold/99.9% pure silver and genuine 24-carat gold/99.9% pure silver. The stamps and sheetlet are designed by Bon Kwan and are printed in Holland and France respectively.
The stamps and sheetlet will be displayed at the General, Tsim Sha Tsui, Tsuen Wan and Sha Tin Central Post Offices from December 15. Advance orders for servicing self-provided souvenir covers will be accepted at all post offices from December 15 to 20.
All post offices (except mobile ones) will open on January 4 from 9am to 2pm. The public hall of the HK Post Philatelic Bureau will also be open from 9am to 2pm for date-stamping covers with the Philatelic Bureau pictorial postmark, the GPO-1 postmark and other special postmarks.
City of Life
December 12th, 2003, 06:56 PM
West Kowloon cultural district plan upheld
The Town Planning Board has upheld amendments to the draft Southwest Kowloon Outline Zoning Plan after considering objections to it.
The board received 11 objections after the area earmarked for a cultural district was rezoned. Ten of the objections relate to the planning and development issues of the cultural district project.
The main concerns are on the appropriateness of the zoning, the planning control for the district, the role of the board in the development process, and the impact on nearby developments.
After careful consideration, the board decided there was no need to propose any amendment as the concerns of the objectors had been addressed.
Given the scale, nature and development time span of the area, the zoning is needed to allow a greater degree of design flexibility for the proponents to come up with the best proposal, it said.
Such zoning has been adopted before as in the case of the development of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok.
The board said the public can give their views as the Legislative Council will be consulted on the preferred development scheme, before its final approval by the Chief Executive in Council.
To enhance consensus building within the community, the board urged the Government to consult the public at every key stage of the selection process. This will allow maximum public scrutiny of the process.
City of Life
December 12th, 2003, 06:58 PM
Harbour Fest panel appointed
Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa has appointed Moses Cheng and Brian Stevenson to look into the Harbour Fest event. The two-member Independent Panel of Inquiry will submit their report to Mr Tung by March 31. In view of the wide public interest, the Government will publish the report. "The panel will conduct a thorough review of the event, identify any deficiencies as well as the responsibilities of any party for such deficiencies, and see what lessons can be learned for future reference," Mr Tung said.
There were many parties involved in various stages of the deliberations, planning and organisation of the event. Messrs Cheng and Stevenson called for their full co-operation.
They will interview those involved in the event and seek the views of those who can shed light on entertainment industry practices and garner their suggestions for improvement.
The panellists said the inquiry will be challenging, and pledged to conduct it in a fair, impartial and professional manner.
Terms of reference
The panel will:
* examine the procedures for assessing and approving the American Chamber of Commerce's proposal for Harbour Fest in the Economic Relaunch Working Group;
* evaluate the organisation, administration and implementation of Harbour Fest by AmCham and the Government's role in overseeing its actions in this regard;
* identify deficiencies, if any, of such procedures and processes, and where appropriate, the responsibility of any party for such deficiencies; and,
* make recommendations, where appropriate, on improvements for any similar future events that might require government sponsorship.
Mr Cheng is a senior partner of a solicitors firm and Mr Stevenson is a former president of the Society of Accountants. Both are distinguished members of their respective professions.
City of Life
December 19th, 2003, 09:31 AM
Unemployment rate falls to 7.5%
The unemployment situation has improved further, with the seasonally adjusted rate falling from 8% in the August-October quarter to 7.5% in September- November. The underemployment rate also edged down from 3.5% to 3.4%.
Comparing the two quarters, falls in the unemployment rate were more notable in the wholesale/retail trades, construction, restaurants, import/export trades, and amusement and recreational services sectors. The trend is in tandem with the recent rebound in local consumer spending and surge in inbound tourism.
Visible improvements seen in various sectors
For the underemployment rate, visible falls were mainly seen in the construction and transport sectors, due to a more active property market and sustained robust performance of external trade.
The total labour force dipped slightly by around 2,600, from 3,484,600 in August-October to 3,482,000 in September-November. But total employment rose by 14,400 to 3,217,000.
The number of unemployed people dropped markedly by around 18,000, from 282,000 in August-October. At the same time, the number of underemployed people went down by 3,500, from 120,500.
Positive sentiments in labour market grow
Total employment went up further, with resumed increases in the last round of release for August-October from the continued decline since the beginning of the year.
The growing positive sentiments in the labour market, the number of job vacancies in the private sector and the number of placements achieved through Labour Department job centres have remained at a steady, high level.
Altogether, 18,841 private sector vacancies were recorded last month, up 16% on the same period last year. At the same time, 6,729 successful placements were made.
This came on the heels of the all-time record of 6,739 in October and represented an increase of 23% over November last year.
Next year will be better
Financial Secretary Henry Tang said this is a significant drop and the figure is below the 7.6% unemployment rate reported in March in the pre-SARS period.
Noting that private sector vacancies were up 16% last month compared with the same period last year, he is confident Hong Kong's economy will be better next year.
He said: "Although the figures are very encouraging, the employment situation is still full of challenges because of our structural adjustment. I believe the adjustment is still ongoing, so we all have to work harder together to improve the figures further."
Stepping up employment services
To step up its efforts to canvass job vacancies and to help the unemployed re-enter the labour market as soon as possible, the department has devised four new measures to strengthen its employment service.
Job fairs, supplementing the usual major ones, are held to respond more promptly to the recruitment needs of employers, and enable job seekers to participate in job interviews on the spot.
Employer-focused recruitment services have been strengthened to speed up the rate and time for filling up vacancies, especially from employers with a large number of job openings. Publicity materials have also been sent to some 80,000 small and medium enterprises to canvass more vacancies from the private sector.
Meanwhile, user-friendly vacancy search terminals will be installed at the Social Welfare Department's 38 social security units by the first quarter of next year to help welfare recipients find jobs.
City of Life
December 19th, 2003, 09:37 AM
Health protection centre to open in mid-2004
Emergency-ready: Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong says the proposed Centre for Health Protection will start operating in mid-2004, focusing on priority areas.
The proposed Centre for Health Protection will start operating in mid-2004, focusing on priority areas. It will enter full operation in 2005, with six functional branches. The Advisory Committee on the centre today endorsed a proposal to set up the new public health agency within the Department of Health.
The Director of Health will head up the centre. A suitable officer from the Department of Health will be appoined chief health protection controller.
Speaking after the committee meeting today, Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong said under the proposed institutional arrangements, the Director of Health will provide overall steer while the chief health protection controller would oversee the agency's management and day-to-day operation and formulate strategic plans for the centre.
Six branches to be formed
Six functional branches will be set up in the centre. They are:
* Surveillance & Epidemiology Branch;
* Infection Control Branch;
* Emergency Response & Information Branch;
* Public Health Laboratory Services;
* Public Health Services; and
* Programme Management & Professional Development Branch.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Carrie Yau said with the setting up of these branches, there should be a clearer demarcation of duties and enhancement of functions to bridge the gaps the expert committee identified.
Pending the full establishment of the centre in 2005, the Surveillance & Epidemiology Branch and the Infection Control Branch will be in place by mid-2004 to enrich and integrate resources to tackle communicable disease outbreaks and to improve collaboration of relevant stakeholders in the public health infrastructure for better infection control.
New body comprises Gov't, HA staff
The six functional branches will comprise mainly existing staff of the Department of Health and some staff from the Hospital Authority, supplemented by new recruits with appropriate expertise where needed.
Dr Yeoh said the Department of Health has started re-structuring its organistion to cope with the establishment of the centre.
About 1,000 officers for the department will work with the centre at the initial stage.
There is no plan to build an extra building for the centre and some locations of the Department of Health will be refurbished for the setting up of the centre, Dr Yeoh said.
Sufficient resources reserved for the centre
Speaking on the expediture of the centre, Dr Yeoh said the Jockey Club has donated $500 million for the centre to buy new equipment, build new facilities and systems, conduct training and recruit experts.
The Director of Health and the chief health protection controller will review the resources deployment of the centre later.
The Government has also reserved money for the centre, Dr Yeoh said, adding that its financial needs will be one of the Government's top priorities.
The proposal on the structure and operation of the centre will be tabled at the LegCo Health Services Panel meeting in January.
Separately, the committee noted the progress the Government has in implementing the SARS expert committee's recommendations in planning for better communications, surveillance, information and data-management systems.
Members also noted the Government's plan to review the existing legislation, notably the Quarantine & Prevention of Disease Ordinance (Cap. 141), to ensure its adequacy to deal with threats posed by infectious diseases.
City of Life
December 19th, 2003, 09:41 AM
Central reclamation to bring more benefits
Little space, more benefits: Carrie Lam introduces the newly published booklet on Central Reclamation III, which offers a comprehensive account of the project to enhance public understanding.
Our vision for the harbour is to turn it into a harbour for the people and a harbour of life, easily accessible for the enjoyment of all, Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning & Lands Carrie Lam says. Introducing the newly published booklet All about Central Reclamation Phase III today, Mrs Lam said the Government aims to enhance public understanding and to ease their concerns with a view to reaching a consensus on the issue.
She explained that the project serves to provide "a little extra space, a lot more benefits".
A little extra space, a lot more benefits
The 18 hectares of land reclaimed under the project is the minimum required for building the Central - Wan Chai Bypass, a key transport infrastructure to ease traffic congestion along the Connaught Road Central/Harcourt Road/Gloucester Road Corridor.
This is fully in line with the three tests for harbour reclamation laid down by the High Court: It must be compelling, with no viable alternative and have minimum impairment.
According to a Transport Department study, the 4-km trip from Central to Causeway Bay will take 45 minutes by 2011, at an average of 5km per hour if the bypass is not in place.
Public views on waterfront promenade welcomed
Mrs Lam hoped the comprehensive booklet, which offers a factual account of the project, will facilitate public understanding. She looked forward to actively involving the community in the design of the Central waterfront promenade.
She also pledged to make use of every opportunity to explain and discuss the project with the public.
When asked when works on the Central reclamation will resume, Mrs Lam said this depends greatly on outcome of the judicial reviews and public concern about the issue.
Turning to the review on proposed Southeast Kowloon Development, Mrs Lam said a number of factors, including the extent of reclamation, the need for housing facilities, environmental protection, as well as boosting tourism, have to be considered.
Government acts lawfully, respects court decisions
The Government will try to strike a balance among these factors during the review, she added.
Mrs Lam, who is also the Town Planning Board chairman, clarified the board's appeal against the High Court's judgement on the Draft Wan Chai North Outline Zoning Plan.
She said while the board has decided not to pursue the Harbour Park proposal, it is concerned that the three tests laid down by the court will have far-reaching implications on future planning and development.
Therefore, there is a need to seek clarification of the legal principles, she said, adding that the Government will continue to act lawfully and respect the court's decision.
City of Life
December 21st, 2003, 05:14 PM
Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade to be beautified
The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, a popular scenic spot for locals and visitors, will be given a facelift to boost tourism and brighten up Victoria Harbour, Tourism Commissioner Eva Cheng says. The proposed beautification project involves landscaping a section of promenade, with the provision of space for street performance and outdoor activities, as well as an alfresco dining and cafe area.
Some 100 trees, 10,000 shrubs and 12,000 annual plants will be planted to green the area. Interactive information boards providing readily accessible information to tourists will also be built.
New attraction: The Tsim Sha Tsui promenade will become more attractive with the addition of street performance and outdoor facilities as well as an alfresco dining area.
Project to bring 145 jobs
The project, at an estimated cost of $162.3 million, is scheduled to start in August for completion in April 2006. It will bring about 145 jobs.
Speaking in the Legislative Council today, Ms Cheng said the Government is committed to developing new tourism products and enhancing existing facilities to sustain the long-term development of our tourism industry.
The 1.6 km-long promenade, stretching from the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier to the International Mail Centre, commands a spectacular view of Victoria Harbour. To further improve its attractiveness, the commission launched a competition in June 2000 inviting innovative design concepts for landscape improvements to the promenade.
Project design theme - spirit of the dragon
The design concept for the project will be based on the winning entry, Dragon, which symbolises dynamism and vitality. The project will serve as a model for landscaping improvements to other tourism areas.
It is estimated that the annual recurrent expenditure upon completion of the project will be $5.4 million. The Government will apply for funding in February.
City of Life
December 21st, 2003, 05:16 PM
Toll bridges, tunnels to be securitised next year
Future revenue-generator: Tsing Ma Bridge is one of the infrastructure developments to be securitised.
Future revenue from six toll bridges and tunnels will be securitised early next year, Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Frederick Ma said. This will bring in about $6 billion in capital revenue. The Government notified the Legislative Council today of its intention to move a motion to pass a resolution on the securitisation.
The resolution will allow the Government to issue notes backed by future revenue from these toll bridges and tunnels to investors.
Capital markets to broaden
Mr Ma said the securitisation will help deepen and broaden our capital markets.
"Ownership of the concerned toll bridges and tunnels will be retained by the Government and we have no plan to amend the toll levels because of the proposal," he said.
"Subject to market conditions, we expect that about $6 billion capital revenue can be generated from this exercise if the proposed resolution is approved by the LegCo," he added.
Financial institutions to be appointed to refine proposal
The toll bridges and tunnels are the Lantau Link (including the Tsing Ma Bridge, the Ma Wan Viaduct and the Kap Shui Mun Bridge); Aberdeen, Cross-Harbour, Lion Rock, Shing Mun, and Tseung Kwan O Tunnels.
Subject to LegCo approval, the Government will appoint financial institutions to act as arrangers to refine the structure and indicative terms of the securitisation developed by the Government's financial adviser.
City of Life
December 21st, 2003, 05:20 PM
Local firms, HKO win global IT awards
Six local IT companies and the Hong Kong Observatory have been named winners in this year's Asia Pacific Information & Communications Technology Awards 2003 held in Thailand in early December.
More than 120 projects from 10 Asia-Pacific economies were entered in this year's contest.
The Hong Kong Computer Society nominated seven local entries to contest the seven categories.
Four of them won grand prizes and the rest took certificates of merit.
Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology Francis Ho said the awards recognise Hong Kong's outstanding achievements in the development of IT applications and e-Government services.
They also prove that the level of local IT applications has reached international standards, Mr Ho said
The awards will not only enhance the local IT industry's international image, but also help the sector gain a foothold in overseas markets, he said.
The Asia Pacific Information & Communications Technology Awards is an international award programme founded in 2001 in Malaysia. It aims to encourage IT innovation in small and medium enterprises and individuals in the information and communications technology industry. It also provides a platform to showcase the latest information and communications technology from the Asia-Pacific region.
The awards serve to stimulate economic and trade relations, technology transfer, and provide business-matching opportunities for the participants.
Hong Kong's winning entries
The seven local winners are:
* Best of Health
Organisation: SoftEnable Technology Limited
Project: CASSOS Computer - Assisted Simulation System for Orthognathic (dental/facial) Surgery
* Best of Business Applications - Finance
Organisation: 2GoTrade Limited
Project: Go.ExchangeVS - Real Time Brokerage Application Platform/ASP
* Best of Communications Applications
Organisation: Outblaze Limited
Project: Outblaze Messaging System
* Best of Research & Development
Organisation: ShaoLin Microsystems Limited
Project: ShaoLin Aptus 2.0
* Certificate of Merit of E-Government and Services
Organisation: Hong Kong Observatory, Hong Kong Government
Project: World Weather Information Service (WWIS) and Severe Weather Information Centre (SWIC)
* Certificate of Merit of Industrial Applications
Organisation: e-commerce Logistics Limited
Project: The Warehouse Management System for the Logistics Industry (WMS)
* Certificate of Merit of E-Commerce
Organisation: Global e-Business Services Limited
Project: Tendering Application Service (e-TAS)
The next Asia Pacific Information & Communications Technology Awards will be hosted in Hong Kong by the Hong Kong Computer Society in December 2004, with funding support from the Innovation & Technology Fund.
City of Life
December 21st, 2003, 05:24 PM
Chinese medicine registration launched
All proprietary Chinese medicines manufactured, imported, or possessed in Hong Kong should apply for registration with the Chinese Medicines Board before June 30.
All registered proprietary Chinese medicines will have their registration number printed on their outer-most package for identification by consumers.
Chinese Medicine Council chairman Dr Daniel Tse said the system is an important regulatory milestone.
"Through the registration system, the safety, quality and efficacy of proprietary Chinese medicines can be assured, and the health of the citizens can be protected," he said.
Transitional registration available
Proprietary Chinese medicines manufactured or sold in Hong Kong on or before March 1, 1999 will get transitional registration, provided that the concerned manufacturers or wholesalers submit an application during the application period.
Application for transitional registration should be submitted from December 19 to June 30. Late applications will not be accepted.
Proprietary Chinese medicines not eligible for transitional registration should also submit applications during the same period, to allow the board to process them and issue certificates of registration as soon as possible.
When the first round of registration work is completed, nobody can sell, import or possess any unregistered proprietary Chinese medicines in Hong Kong.
Product safety and quality to be considered
Director of Health Dr Lam Ping-yan said the board will consider the safety, quality and efficacy of the product in determining an application for registration.
The registration requirements include compliance with the standard on limits of heavy metals and toxic elements, pesticide remains and microbes. The product should not be adulterated with western medicines and should comply with the law on protection of endangered species.
The department will sample-check the proprietary Chinese medicines sold on the market on a regular basis. When one is found to be hazardous, the council will de-register it and the trader concerned has to recall it. For details, please refer to the Registration of Proprietary Chinese Medicines Application Handbook.
The board has also published the Guidelines for Recall of Chinese Medicine Products, the technical guidelines on testing of proprietary Chinese medicines, and Good Clinical Practice for Proprietary Chinese Medicines.
Application handbooks and forms available now
The Registration of Proprietary Chinese Medicines Application Handbook and application forms are now being distributed at the Chinese Medicine Division of the Department of Health at 32/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East, and the Chinese Medicines Section at 2/F Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon.
For more details, please call 2574 9999 or visit the council's website.
The council and the department will conduct briefings for the trade on the details of registration requirements for proprietary Chinese medicines, the application procedures, and the documents and information required.
Under the licensing system for Chinese medicine traders which was implemented in May, four kinds of Chinese medicine traders, including retailers and wholesalers of herbal medicines, and manufacturers and wholesalers of proprietary Chinese medicines, must apply for licences from the council.
From May to November, the council received about 6,900 applications for Chinese medicine trader licences.
City of Life
December 21st, 2003, 05:29 PM
Green light for a greener environment
To optimise green opportunities in core city areas, the Government has started a greening programme at prominent locations in Sheung Wan, Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Hung Hom, Mong Kok and Kwun Tong.
Permanent Secretary for the Environment, Transport & Works Bureau Lo Yiu-ching said the programme will introduce properly designed planting themes and mark up corridors for linking strategic pockets of greened areas to enhance the overall visual quality of the environment.
Green scheme: To optimise green opportunities in core city areas, the Government has started a greening programme at prominent locations in Sheung Wan, Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Hung Hom, Mong Kok and Kwun Tong.
Focus is also given to greening streets in built-up areas, where planting areas are very limited. If there are highly congested underground utilities beneath the pavements, planter boxes will be used. Different modes of vertical planting at different levels will be adopted with careful selection of species to promote a theme and identity for individual locations.
"Satisfactory progress is being made in implementing the greening programme. Since April, more than seven million plants have been planted," Mr Lo said.
Valuable trees registered for better protection
The Government is compiling a register of old and valuable trees on Government land for priority protection. So far more than 900 have been identified for inclusion in the register.
"It is a mandate for all Government projects that no trees should be unnecessarily lopped and felled. Tree felling is the last resort where it is not possible to preserve the trees," Mr Lo said.
In such cases, compensatory planting will be provided as far as possible.
The Greening Standards & Maintenance Manual is being compiled to set out guidelines on species selection, planting design and maintenance requirements.
District councils will be consulted on the greening proposals like the landscape master layout plan and treatment of existing trees on sites, for all capital works projects with related soft landscaping works value exceeding $3 million.
An information pamphlet on greening has been uploaded to the bureau's website: http://www.etwb.gov.hk/
City of Life
December 21st, 2003, 05:31 PM
Int'l logistics conference set for May
International conference and exhibition Logistics HK will be held at the Convention & Exhibition Centre from May 18 to 20, further enhancing our status as a leading global logistics hub.
The event is sponsored by the Logistics Development Council, which held a meeting today reviewing progress in major initiatives and to discuss key tasks to be pursued next year.
Council chairman and Secretary for Economic Development & Labour Stephen Ip said the implementation of CEPA promises new opportunities for Hong Kong logistics service providers in the growing Mainland market.
"I am confident that our enterprises and practitioners will leverage their proven skills and capitalise on the growing demands for their service," he said, adding that the resilience of the logistics industry has withstood the SARS challenge and reinforced our vital position as Asia's premiere transportation and logistics hub.
Members were also updated on the progress of the initiatives undertaken this year, including the development of the Digital Trade and Transportation Network and the Value Added Logistics Park.
City of Life
December 27th, 2003, 06:19 PM
Japanese firm opens HK regional HQ
Japanese manufacturer HK Yamazaki Diecast has opened its regional headquarters in Hong Kong to oversee production on the Mainland and easily access real-time information from across the boundary. InvestHK Associate Director-General for Investment Promotion Simon Galpin welcomed the move, hailing it an important endorsement of our role as a key business hub in the region.
"This strategic move will enable the company to enjoy all the benefits this city offers, and at the same time, leverage the advantages of its manufacturing base on the Mainland," he said.
The company's managing director Hidetomo Yamazaki said Hong Kong, which attracts buyers from around the world, will become a strategic location in the company's regional sales network.
The regional HQ also serves as the sales and distribution arm for the company, supporting and managing its two factories in Huizhou and Qingdao. The firm designs and produces dyes made of zinc, aluminium or magnesium alloy. It also supports its customers with experimental production, casting, processing and assembling of CD parts and other products, such as cameras and DVDs.
City of Life
December 27th, 2003, 06:22 PM
IMF forecasts growth of over 4% for 2004
Amid encouraging signs of economic recovery, the International Monetary Fund projects Hong Kong's real gross domestic product will grow at around 4.5%-5% for 2004 following an estimated growth of 3% for 2003. Acting Financial Secretary Frederick Ma welcomed the fund's recognition of the significant effort and progress the Government has made towards restoring fiscal balance, adding that the Government is committed to achieving fiscal balance by 2008-09.
The fund said that the strong economic recovery is supported by surging inbound tourist arrivals - foremost from the Mainland - a strengthening global economy, the advent of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement with the Mainland, and the improvement in domestic consumer sentiment.
It expects an easing of deflationary pressures in the near term and projects consumer price deflation to ease to 1% by end-2004 and cease to exist by mid-2005.
On the fiscal side, the fund recognises that despite difficult economic conditions, significant progress has been made this year in enacting a number of revenue and expenditure measures.
However, it suggests that the government use the improvements in its macroeconomic prospects to make headway towards fiscal consolidation.
Further reduction of operating deficit recommended
It recommends a further reduction in the operating deficit by about 1% of GDP in the financial year 2004-05. It believes this will provide a credible start to the drive for fiscal consolidation.
The fund's mission was in Hong Kong from December 11 to 15. During the visit, it assessed our macroeconomic policies, including fiscal and exchange-rate issues.
For details of the fund's concluding remarks on Hong Kong, visit the Financial Services & the Treasury Bureau's website: http://www.info.gov.hk/fstb/fsb/report/index.htm
City of Life
December 27th, 2003, 06:25 PM
Bank of China appointed RMB clearing bank in HK
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority today announced the People's Bank of China's decision to appoint Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited as the clearing bank for renminbi business in Hong Kong for a three-year term.
HKMA Acting Chief Executive Norman Chan welcomed the appointment.
"With its considerable experience in clearing and cross-border businesses, the Bank of China HK is well placed to launch a reliable and efficient renminbi clearing service for Hong Kong banks in the very near future," he said, adding that the authority would work closely with the People's Bank of China and the Bank of China to help with the launch, in phases, of the personal renminbi business by Hong Kong banks.
Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa announced on November 18, 2003 that, following approval from the State Council, the People's Bank of China had agreed to provide clearing arrangements for personal renminbi business in Hong Kong. It would include deposit-taking, exchange, remittances and renminbi cards.
The major responsibilities of the clearing bank are to:
* open renminbi settlement accounts for participating banks for the acceptance and withdrawal of renminbi funds;
* open a settlement account with the People's Bank of China's Shenzhen sub-branch to centralise the acceptance and withdrawal of the renminbi funds of the clearing bank and participating banks;
* collect and distribute renminbi banknotes;
* provide clearing services for renminbi remittances and renminbi cards issued by Hong Kong banks; and
* provide services for the participating banks to square their renminbi open positions that result from the exchange of renminbi into Hong Kong dollars and vice versa.
The People's Bank of China will consult the authority and conduct regular appraisals in relation to the clearing bank's services.
City of Life
December 27th, 2003, 06:34 PM
More local wildlife to adorn HK's oldest park
Though relatively small, the 5.4-hectare HK Zoological & Botanical Gardens houses the most comprehensive collection of plants and animals in Hong Kong - over 1,000 species.
Soon, the Leisure & Cultural Services Department will implement consultants' proposals to upgrade the park which include the introduction of local flora and fauna for conservation and education purposes.
Living entity: The HK Zoological & Botancial Gardens is an important tourist, conservation and recreational centre.
A garden for all seasons
Chief Leisure Manager (Passive Amenities) Lawrence Cheung said the department will soon introduce the HK hawthorn and Chinese wild peony melastoma, as well as wild orchids the HK lady's slipper orchid and white calanthe.
The orchid, being the only paphiopedilum species native to Hong Kong, has very high exhibition value. The white calanthe has a two-month flowering period.
The park will grow flowering plants that blossom in different seasons, setting up a 'garden for all seasons'. There will also be more thematic displays, making the park more lustrous.
For example, an avenue of bauhinias, which have a long flowering period between November and May, will be planted for photo taking.
Romer's tree frog to become a resident
For local fauna, the otter, Romer's tree frog, HK salamander and Chinese three-striped box turtle will be introduced.
The frog is endemic and unique to Hong Kong, Mr Cheung said.
The population of the turtle in the region has severely shrunk due to over-hunting for medicinal purposes. Hong Kong's streams are now regarded as harbouring the last remaining population still in the wild.
Hong Kong escaped deforestation during World War II and wild populations of many indigenous mammals are still surviving and sighted on rare occasions.
The department will build a new exhibition and education centre which comprises audio visual displays and ancillary facilities, introducing the local ecology.
It will also promote eco-tourism by displaying some introductory information on conservation from other Government departments and organisations
Most proposals will be implemented in phases over two years, and the exhibition centre in three years, Mr Cheung said.
A long-term development plan
The study mainly determines the long-term development of the park with a view to enhancing its facilities to meet public aspirations.
It was conducted by HK University Professor Daniel Chan and Baptist University Professor M.H. Wong.
Results show that 68% and 60% of respondents interviewed on site and over the telephone preferred the park to continue showing animals and plants side by side.
The consultants have also assessed in detail the value and condition of existing exhibits.
Oldest tree sown 100 years ago
The park houses over 800 species of plants, with the orchids and the pitcher plant in the greenhouse being the most popular among all age groups. However, the park has other treasures deserving more appreciation.
Some species are very rare in the wild and are classified as endangered plants, including the reevesia near the aviary and pitcher plant.
The towering white jade orchid tree, planted near the Fountain Terrace over 100 years ago, is the oldest flowering tree in the park.
The collections in the Bamboo and Camellia Gardens are also excellent, exhibiting a great variety of 21 and 34 species respectively, Professor Chan said.
The Chinese Garden has a number of fruit trees from the Mainland, such as star fruit, citrus and sapodilla. They provide a valuable educational opportunity, especially for those youngsters who have not seen fruit hanging on a tree.
An animal assortment
There are 217 species of animals, including 183 species of birds, 19 mammals and 15 reptiles.
The majority of visitors like the jaguar, the Bornean orangutan, as well as the red-crested crane, a symbol of longevity. Visitors also liked the large birds, like flamingos and grey-crowned crane, and waterfowl.
Professor Chan said: "The park has an excellent collection of primates that covers all the major groups ranging from the prosemians, new-world monkeys, old-world monkeys, to the great ape."
The department will re-introduce the Yangtze alligator, Mr Cheung added. This valuable species from the Mainland will fill an important gap in the reptile collection.
35% of visitors from the Mainland
The Gardens, built in 1841, are the oldest garden in Hong Kong, and are featured in many tourist guides.
About 35% of the park's visitors are from the Mainland and 5% are from overseas. In general, about 70% came to spend their leisure time, while 25% came to gain knowledge and 25% for recreation.
"After the changes are made, the unique position of the park serving as an educational, conservation and tourist centre in Hong Kong will be further enhanced," Mr Cheung said.
City of Life
December 27th, 2003, 06:37 PM
Beautification scheme creates islands of green
Going green: Since 2001, the Leisure & Cultural Services Department has turned vacant Government lots into lush oases, like this one in Tuen Mun's Area 44.
The Leisure & Cultural Services Department started a scheme to beautify vacant Government land in 2001. Since then, it has planted more than 27,000 trees and about 600,000 shrubs on 40 lots, creating islands of green amid the concrete jungle.
The department plants flowering trees such as Queen Crape Myrtle, African Tulip Tree, Flame of the Forest and Golden-shower and shrubs that flower in all seasons, such as Chinese Ixora, Chinese Hibiscus and Allamanda. It then surrounds them with green lawn.
The vacant land on Man Tung Road near Caribbean Coast in Tung Chung, on Lantau Island, is a good example.
To make the best use of this big plot, more grass was grown to give it an even more spacious feel. Decorative flowering climbers and ground covers were added to make the lawn more interesting.
The beautification project transformed the land from a weedy ground into a scenic garden.
The department stressed that greening work in the urban area must make full use of scarce available space.
For example, the vacant land on Hoi Tai Street near Canossa School in Quarry Bay is a long, narrow strip squeezed between the school and the roadside. Rows of flowering trees and shrubs have helped to make it more tidy and pleasant.
Before the beautification scheme, most vacant lands were just weeds and mud.
The department changed them into pleasant and tidy gardens that add beauty to the environment, and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds in the process.
The project has won the support and praise of residents of the various districts.
The vacant lands involved - defined as those to which no development plans apply in the next three years - are scattered throughout Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.
Most are located in town centres and places with heavy pedestrian traffic, such as waterfront plazas.
In 2002/03, the department converted 25 vacant Government lots into gardens in 10 districts.
The total area affected - 11 hectares - is almost the size of two Hong Kong Zoological & Botanical Gardens.
For 2003/04, the department is at work transforming 16 lots in 10 districts, a total area of three hectares.
City of Life
December 27th, 2003, 06:44 PM
New crossing helps Deep Bay ecology
Hong Kong's fourth boundary crossing, the Western Corridor, will stretch across Deep Bay, an area of high ecological value.
To maintain water quality and protect the ecosystem, a number of measures have been put in place during construction, which have also brought improvements to Mai Po Nature Reserve.
The corridor, a 5.1km-long cable-stayed bridge spanning Deep Bay from Ngau Hom Shek in the northwest New Territories to Shekou, one of Shenzhen's key ports, will open to traffic in 2005.
Sustainable development: Highway engineer Stephen Yiu says the temporary bridge in Deep Bay facilitates the construction of the Western Corridor. The project has also improved the sediment situation in Mai Po.
Quarter of the bridge piers built
Construction started in August. Highways Department senior engineer Stephen Yiu said 10 of the 39 groups of bridge piers in Hong Kong waters have been built.
Meanwhile, a 1.8km-long temporary bridge stretching from Ngau Hom Shek to the middle of Deep Bay is being constructed.
Mr Yiu said the temporary structure is necessary for transporting construction materials, as the sea off Ngau Hom Shek is too shallow for vessels to pass through.
While many people think that infrastructural development may impact the environment, the construction of the Western Corridor has proved that nature can be preserved when comprehensive mitigation measures, coupled with good site practices, are put in place during construction.
Measures in place to ensure water quality
To address concern on water quality, bridge piers are being built inside cofferdams to prevent the escape of sediment plumes. Closed grab dredgers are used to remove sediment inside the cofferdams. Silt curtains are deployed as a secondary defence to contain the dispersion of sediment plumes if any. Mr Yiu said 16 monitoring stations have been set up to keep a close watch on changes in water quality.
Water quality closely monitored
Some 1,300 checks were conducted last month, with only seven slightly higher than the prescribed standard.
Although the seven checks were carried out at locations far away from the works site, and the busy vessel traffic in Deep Bay may also affect water quality, the department has reminded the contractor to take all preventive measures.
The engineer also noted that Deep Bay, located near Lau Fau Shan, is a nursery for oysters. At present, there are some 300 oyster rafts.
In this regard, the department has required oyster farmers to put the beds at least 70 metres away from the construction site to avoid any contamination.
Project improves Deep Bay ecology
The Western Corridor project has also brought long-term benefits to Deep Bay's ecosystem.
As part of the project, a water channel connecting Gei Wais to Deep Bay has been built to solve the problem of long-term sediment deposition in the water channel.
It has also improved the water exchange rate to Gei Wais, thus enhancing the feeding ground for birds.
City of Life
December 27th, 2003, 06:48 PM
SARS checks stepped up at immigration points
In light of a suspected SARS case in Guangdong, the Department of Health has stepped up precautionary measures at the airport and border checkpoints.
Director of Health Dr Lam Ping-yan said the department was informed by the Guangdong Health Bureau of the case last night.
The 32-year-old patient, a television station worker, lives in Panyu. He has not visited Hong Kong recently and is now isolated in a hospital.
The department has established communication channels and dialogue with Guangdong authorities and will contact them daily for updates, Dr Lam said.
According to Dr Lam, the department will maintain mandatory health declarations and temperature screening checks for passengers arriving from Guangdong.
Extra health staff deployed
Additional medical staff will be deployed to distribute health alert cards to flight passengers arriving from Guangzhou.
A hotline (187 2222), operating from 9am to 9pm, will take calls from people returning from Guangzhou and other members of the public.
"Even though Hong Kong has been free from SARS since early June, people are reminded to remain vigilant and observe good personal hygiene," Dr Lam said.
Meanwhile, the Hospital Authority has also activated its yellow alarm and its Central Committee on Infectious Diseases will hold a meeting today to assess the situation and review the safety measures in hospitals.
People who need to go to hospitals are urged to wear masks for safety reasons.
City of Life
January 2nd, 2004, 06:56 PM
Top Spanish fashion brand expands ( 01/01/2004 )
Well-known Spanish brand MANGO has expanded its presence in Hong Kong three years after its successful launch. There are now six MANGO stores in major Hong Kong shopping malls.
Kesri Singh, chief executive officer of Gagan (HK) Ltd, the franchisee of MANGO and subsidiary of the Singapore-based distributor and retailer RSH Ltd explained the reasons for the expansion: "Hong Kong is an international cosmopolitan city and a lot of trends in Asia follow Hong Kong. Therefore, it was imperative that we emphasise Hong Kong as part of our long-term strategy for developing the brand in Asia.
"Our customers in Hong Kong have a definite feel for fashion chic. At the same time, the mainland market is growing and becoming more sophisticated. It is a competitive advantage for retailers based in Hong Kong to become familiar with the shopping habits and preferences of customers from China before entering that market.
"We have already invested US$5 million in Hong Kong for MANGO. We will continue to explore adding more stores within the existing brand portfolio, as well as look into possible new concepts," added Mr Singh.
Simon Galpin associate director-general for investment promotion at Invest Hong Kong said that "Hong Kong's demand for high-quality clothing has helped made Hong Kong one of the trendiest and most lucrative fashion markets in the world."
He added: "Despite our small size, Hong Kong is frequently the first and only city in the region targeted by world famous designers for establishing their brand in the region."
City of Life
January 3rd, 2004, 05:36 AM
Town Planning Board involved in cultural project
The Town Planning Board has received Government confirmation that it will be involved in various stages of the West Kowloon Cultural District's planning.
With the Government's reassurance, the board today confirmed that a two-stage plan-making approach should be adopted. It also endorsed a revised Explanatory Statement for the draft South West Kowloon Outline Zoning Plan.
The first stage is to reflect the planning intention of developing the site into an integrated arts and cultural district while at the same time allowing a sufficient degree of design flexibility for the proponents to come up with the best proposals.
The second stage is to incorporate into the zoning plan the agreed development parameters of the selected scheme for public inspection and comment.
Board to be briefed on general progress
After submissions close, the Government will brief the board on the general progress, including the number of proposals received.
This will be followed by the submission of the preferred development scheme with its preliminary master plan to the board for consideration and agreement, before it is submitted to the Legislative Council for consultation and to the Executive Council for approval.
After the Executive Council's approval, the Government will enter into a provisional agreement with the successful proponent. It will then submit the agreed development parameters of the selected scheme for incorporation into the zoning plan as amendments for public inspection and comment.
The revised plan will go through the normal plan-making process including objection hearing and further amendments, if necessary, before the submission of the zoning plan to the Executive Council for approval.
Subsequent changes need board's approval
The project agreement will only be finalised and executed after completion of the statutory planning procedures. Any subsequent changes to the stipulated development parameters of the project will require the board's approval and will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Town Planning Ordinance.
The current zoning plan can be regarded as an interim one to provide the necessary flexibility at the project conception stage. There is no question of bypassing the board as it will be involved at various key stages of the planning process.
The public will have an opportunity to scrutinise the plan again at the second stage and all statutory planning procedures will be completed in accordance with the Town Planning Ordinance before the final agreement for the project is executed.
For details of the Explanatory Statement of the South West Kowloon Outline Zoning Plan, visit the board's website: http://www.info.gov.hk/tpb/index_c.htm
City of Life
January 15th, 2004, 04:37 PM
Record year for foreign investment in Hong Kong ( 14/01/2004 )
Hong Kong second most popular location for investment in Asia, says Mike Rowse.
Hong Kong defied the odds by attracting more foreign investment in 2003, than ever before. This despite the impact of Sars, weakness in the global economy and uncertainty in the Middle East. 142 overseas companies set up, or expanded operations in Hong Kong in 2003, up more than 20 per cent on 2002.
Hong Kong also ranked second in Asia, behind the Chinese mainland, in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). Overseas investors pumped US$15 billion into Hong Kong in the first nine months of 2003, up from US$12.8 for the full year 2002.
The number of regional headquarters in Hong Kong reached an all-time high at 966. Another 2,241 companies operated regional offices here, up 3.2 per cent on the previous year.
Mike Rowse director-general of investment promotion at Invest Hong Kong, said companies continued to see past Hong Kong’s short term difficulties when making investment decisions. “Hong Kong’s advantages including our first-class business infrastructure, free flow of goods and information, liquid capital markets, strong regulatory system and a low tax system continue to attract foreign companies to choose Hong Kong as their regional headquarters,” he said.
Mr Rowse said foreign companies were also interested in the easier China access granted to Hong Kong-based companies by the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa), and that this had increased FDI into Hong Kong. He added that InvestHK would be stepping up efforts to interest overseas companies in the Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta region.
More details in www.investhk.gov.hk
City of Life
January 17th, 2004, 08:56 AM
Foreign assets amount to $869b
The foreign assets of the Exchange Fund rose $35.7 billion to $868.6 billion last month, the Monetary Authority says.
The Monetary Base, comprising Certificates of Indebtedness, Government-issued currency notes and coins in circulation, the Aggregate Balance of the banking system and Exchange Fund Bills and Notes issued, stood at $292.7 billion.
Claims on the private sector in Hong Kong amounted to $50.8 billion, while foreign liabilities, representing mainly obligations under repurchase agreements, stood at $1 billion.
Hong Kong Monetary Authority : www.hkma.gov.hk
City of Life
January 17th, 2004, 09:07 AM
HK prepares for Lunar New Year tourist influx
Hong Kong is preparing for a surge of Mainland visitors during the Lunar New Year holiday.
Commissioner for Tourism Eva Cheng said the measures will enhance the flow of visitors through immigration checkpoints, increase transport capacity, and boost promotion and information dissemination to tourists on consumer protection and health.
"The measures adopted for National Day Golden Week and Christmas/New Year were effective and demonstrated our capacity in receiving a large volume of visitors," Ms Cheng said.
"We need to make the best possible preparations and will continue with and strengthen those measures that have proven effective. We endeavour to enhance the travel experience of every visitor to Hong Kong."
The measures cover:
* arrangements for immigration clearance at boundary control points;
* protection of visitors' health;
* arrangement of facilities;
* information dissemination;
* visitors' information service;
* consumer protection; and,
* co-ordination with Guangdong Province.
Ms Cheng said all the measures are, by and large, the same as those used for Golden Week.
"The departments concerned are well-prepared and will flexibly deploy the resources according to different situations," she said. "We will also maintain close liaison with the Guangdong Provincial Tourism Administration to understand more about the visitor flow."
Hotels, travel agents to adopt Good Business Practice
The Travel Industry Council, Federation of HK Hotel Owners and HK Hotels Association have agreed to standardise the existing practice in hotel room reservations into a 'Good Business Practice' to ensure a high level of transparency.
Ms Cheng said: "I am glad to see the three industry organisations agreeing to strengthen their co-ordination and improve the quality of service in the tourism industry."
Good Business Practice covers the early release of information by hotels on room charges, availability and allocation, cancellation policies and deposit arrangements.
For travel information, visit www.discoverhongkong.com
City of Life
January 17th, 2004, 09:13 AM
Symphony of Lights to launch on January 17
Harbour extravaganza: The Tourism Commission launches the "Symphony of Lights" to provide another attraction for visitors.
Choreographed light and sound show "A Symphony of Lights" will be launched on January 17. The first of its kind anywhere, the show will be a permanent enhancement to Hong Kong's harbour night scene.
The show combines special interactive light and musical effects to tell the story of Hong Kong by showcasing the 18 key buildings along the Victoria Harbour waterfront. It will be supplemented by rooftop fireworks displays in the first month.
This 18-minute multimedia spectacle, produced by the Tourism Commission, will be staged at 8pm nightly, except January 21-23, when other major Lunar New Year celebrations are planned.
Tourism trade welcomes show
"We are very excited that 'A Symphony of Lights' has already generated a favourable response from the tourism trade," the Tourism Commission said. "We understand that many tour packages are being developed using the show as the focus of their marketing.
"We are also grateful for the trade's useful comments on the preview, on the basis of which we have refined the show. We are confident that the show will attract tourists to Hong Kong and stimulate local consumption."
Music, narrative broadcast on radio
For the first month, the show's music and narrative will be broadcast in Cantonese at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront outside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. At the same time, the broadcast can be heard on the radio. Commercial Radio AM 864 will feature Cantonese, Metro Broadcast AM 1044 English, and RTHK AM621 Putonghua.
The soundtrack in CD format will be made available for harbour tour ferries and hotels free of charge upon request.
18 buildings participate
The launch ceremony will be held at 7.45pm on January 17 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza.
The 18 participating buildings are:
* Bank of China Tower;
* Central Plaza;
* Cheung Kong Centre;
* Harcourt House;
* Hong Kong City Hall;
* Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre;
* HSBC Main Building;
* Jardine House;
* Mass Mutual Tower;
* One Exchange Square & Two Exchange Square;
*International Finance Centre 1 & 2;
* Queensway Government Offices;
* Sun Hung Kai Centre;
* The Centre;
* The Chinese People's Liberation Army Forces Hong Kong Building; and
* The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
for further information, visit: www.discoverhongkong.com
City of Life
January 17th, 2004, 09:20 AM
Container Terminal 10 study nears completion
The study on Container Terminal 10 will be completed in three months and the Government will consult the industry on its construction date and location.
Speaking on a radio talk show today, Secretary for Economic Development & Labour Stephen Ip said Hong Kong needs more terminals and related facilities because the number of goods to be handled will increase tremendously after the implementation of CEPA.
The construction of a new terminal will offer another choice for the trade and improve our competitiveness.
Mr Ip said a Hong Kong-Mainland logistics co-operation proposal will be ready for consultation in two months.
Self-employed project helps youths gain experience
On unemployment, Mr Ip said the one-year pilot scheme to train and assist 1,000 18-to-24-year-olds to become self-employed will help participants gain experience in running their own business.
The project will be jointly run by the Labour Department and a non-government organisation.
Mr Ip said 24 hotel construction projects are now in progress while 35 new projects have been approved by the Government. He believes these will create more job opportunities and help relieve unemployment.
Speaking on the recent SARS case in Guangdong, Mr Ip said it will not have a big impact on tourism because many Mainland residents have planned to visit Hong Kong through the individual travellers scheme during the Chinese New Year. The Government has already reminded the industry to step up precautionary measures, Mr Ip said, adding that all border health measures will continue to prevent the spread of SARS.
City of Life
January 17th, 2004, 09:23 AM
Surveillance system guards against avian flu
Hong Kong has been implementing the closest surveillance system against the avian flu in the world, the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department Director reckons.
Speaking on two radio programmes this morning, Thomas Chan said there is a possibility that avian flu could occur again in Hong Kong. But the surveillance system is so strong that if there were an outbreak, it could be detected and contained quickly, and it would be small in scale
Mr Chan noted that the authorities would not compensate farmers or retailers for losses arising from the avian flu.
Public to be consulted on central slaughtering
The Food & Environmental Hygiene Department is preparing documents for a public consultation on the issue of central slaughtering, Mr Chan said.
Local chickens have had to be vaccinated against the flu since June, 2003, and live chickens imported from the Mainland since January 15. Now about 80% of the chickens are believed to have antibodies to protect them against avian flu.
The Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department Director closely monitors measures against avian flu in chicken farms, including the purchase of vaccines and injections. It also does random checks to ensure the existence of antibodies in the chickens. Farms are inspected weekly and unauthorised people are prohibited from entering the farms.
The Food & Environmental Hygiene Department also stipulates that operators and stall keepers in the Cheung Sha Wan Wholesale Market and other markets must clean their premises and chicken cages daily. Its staff carries out random checks to ensure compliance. Authorities will step up inspection of chicken farms to ensure good environmental hygiene there, also.
Mr Chan estimated the local demand for chickens over the Lunar New Year at about 200,000 birds, twice the usual daily demand.
He added that there is no evidence to suggest that eating chicken eggs can bring on avian flu.
Nets keep birds from approaching chickens
The Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department and the University of Hong Kong conduct random checks on the health condition of thousands of local birds in the last year have not detected avian flu in local birds.
Mr Chan noted it is possible for birds to pass avian flu to pigs and then to humans. Chicken farms have been requested to install a net to keep birds from approaching the chickens, and the measure has proved effective.
His department is studying legislative amendments be tabled for legislation this year to tighten monitoring of the import of animal feeds.
Mr Chan reminded the public to pay attention to personal hygiene, and refrain from close contact with or feeding wild animals. Anyone with flu symptoms should consult the doctor immediately.
City of Life
January 19th, 2004, 10:15 AM
Experts check progress of SARS safeguards
Health check: The Monitoring Committee on Implementation of the SARS Expert Committee Report's Recommendations holds its first meeting.
The panel of health experts which will monitor the implementation of SARS safeguards began its first meeting today. The Monitoring Committee on Implembentation of the SARS Expert Committee Report's Recommendations will check Hong Kong's state of readiness for handling any possible resurgence of the virus.
This morning, members agreed that written materials for review by the committee and records of the meeting will be posted on the Health, Welfare & Food Bureau website as soon as practicable to enhance public understanding on the work being done on SARS and public health.
Committee to keep a close watch
During the three-day meeting, the committee will discuss progress reports by the bureau's task force responsible for co-ordinating the implementation of the recommendations.
Members will also visit the Public Health Laboratory Centre and a hospital to inspect the measures and facilities in place and to hear the views of frontline staff on the improvements made since last year's outbreak. They will also discuss research and training with academics. The committee was appointed by the Chief Executive in October to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the SARS Expert Committee Report.
It comprises Sir Cyril Chantler, Professor Sian Griffiths, Professor Rosie Young, Dr Lee Shiu-hung and Legislative Councillor Dr Lo Wing-lok.
The committee will make periodic reports to the Chief Executive on the progress of implementing SARS recommendations.
City of Life
January 19th, 2004, 10:17 AM
HK, Guangdong traders link up websites
The Trade & Industry Department's CEPA website now features hyperlinks to 40 Guangdong trade and investment websites, giving local traders the latest business information from the province.
It was agreed at the 2nd Working Group Meeting of the 6th HK/Guangdong Joint Co-operation Conference on January 5 to establish the hyperlinks to enhance business information flow between the two jurisdictions.
To browse the CEPA website, click http://www.tid.gov.hk/english/cepa/
City of Life
January 19th, 2004, 10:20 AM
Centre for Health Protection to focus first on communicable diseases
Hong Kong's new Centre for Health Protection (CHP), scheduled to open by the middle of the year, will initially focus on communicable diseases, the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr E K Yeoh, said today (January 17).
Speaking at the inauguration of the Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr Yeoh said the CHP's early work would include a number of elements:
* the development and maintenance of a surveillance network to collect infection-related data;
* continual development and testing of Hong Kong's emergency response mechanism;
* liaison with the Hospital Authority and the private healthcare sector to enhance their infection control effort;
* facilitation of training for healthcare professionals on infection control;
* co-operation with universities in conducting relevant applied research; and
* operation of the government's public health laboratory services.
He said that as the centre developed, [/B]it would also cover other areas such as food safety and hygiene, veterinary issues and non-communicable diseases.[/B] "Because of the need to provide new accommodation, develop new information technology systems and recruit additional staff, it will take some time before the new centre will become fully operational," Dr Yeoh said.
"A transitional arrangement is needed to reap early benefits while allowing sufficient time for the longer-term modalities and systems to be developed."
Dr Yeoh said that under the transitional arrangement, a Surveillance and Epidemiology Branch and an Infection Control Branch would start operation in mid-2004 to enrich and integrate resources to tackle communicable disease outbreaks and to improve collaboration of stakeholders in the public health infrastructure for better infection control.
The full health protection agency, including an Emergency Response and Information Branch, a Programme Management and Professional Development Branch, and the enhanced Public Health Laboratory Services and Public Health Services, is expected be operating smoothly in 2005.
"It is our firm belief that the future Centre for Health Protection will adopt an integrated approach to health protection, pooling together expertise and resources from partners in the healthcare sector and other disciplines," he said.
"The Chinese University's new Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases will definitely be one of the key partners of the future CHP, as we share the same goal to protect the health of our community from infectious diseases," Dr Yeoh said.
City of Life
January 22nd, 2004, 06:13 PM
CPI falls 1.9% in December
Consumer prices fell 1.9% in December compared with the same month in 2002, narrowing further on November's 2.4% drop.
The smaller year-on-year decline in the Consumer Price Index in December was mainly attributable to dissipation of the effect of the waiver of water and sewage charges implemented in the August-November quarter.
Also partly contributing were moderated decreases in the charges for meals bought away from home and in the prices of basic foodstuffs, as well as enlarged increases in the price of jewellery amidst higher gold prices, and in the price of outer clothing.
Noting the year-on-year decline in overall consumer prices narrowed further in December, the Government said other contributing factors were moderated decreases or slight increases in the retail prices of some goods and services amidst the revival in local consumer spending and surge in inbound tourism, as well as amidst higher import prices owing to a weaker US dollar. Analysed by sub-index and on a year-on-year comparison, the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) fell by 1.2%, 2.1% and 2.5% respectively in December, all narrowing further from the corresponding falls of 1.8%, 2.5% and 2.8% in November.
Housing sees largest year-on-year price fall
Amongst the various CPI components, housing continued to register the largest year-on-year decline in prices in December (-5.5% in the Composite CPI and -3.0% in the CPI(A)).
This was followed by durable goods (-5.0% in the Composite CPI and -4.6% in the CPI(A)), miscellaneous services (-3.8% in the Composite CPI and -4.7% in the CPI(A)), food (excluding meals bought away from home) (-0.9% in the Composite CPI and -0.8% in the CPI(A)), meals bought away from home (-0.7% in the Composite CPI and -0.4% in the CPI(A)), and transport (-0.3% in the Composite CPI and -1.2% in the CPI(A)).
On the other hand, year-on-year increases in prices were recorded in December for electricity, gas and water (9.8% in the Composite CPI and 11.0% in the CPI(A)), miscellaneous goods (4.6% in the Composite CPI and 2.6% in the CPI(A)), clothing and footwear (3.7% in the Composite CPI and 1.7% in the CPI(A)), and alcoholic drinks and tobacco (0.3% in both the Composite CPI and CPI(A)).
For 2003 as a whole, the Composite CPI was on average 2.6% lower than in the preceding 12-month period. The respective decreases in the CPI(A), CPI(B) and CPI(C) were 2.1%, 2.7% and 2.9%.
City of Life
January 22nd, 2004, 06:17 PM
Jobless level falls to 7.3%
Vexing issue: Financial Secretary Henry Tang says, despite the improvement in the jobless situation, structural unemployment is still a major challenge for Hong Kong.
The unemployment situation has improved, with the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate falling to 7.3% in the October-to-December quarter from 7.5% in the September-to-November quarter. The underemployment rate also edged down, to 3.3% from 3.4%.
Decreases in the unemployment rate were seen mainly in the decoration and maintenance, restaurants/hotels, wholesale/retail trades, communications, business services and education services sectors.
Number of underemployed also drops
For the underemployed, decreases were concentrated in the construction, communications, transport and real estate sectors. The total labour force increased by around 7,300, to 3,489,000 in the October-December period, from 3,481,700 in the September-November period.
Total employment increased to a larger extent, by around 18,700 to 3,236,000 from 3,217,300 in the same timeframe.
The number of unemployed people decreased by around 11,400, to 253,000 in October-December from 264,400 in September-November. At the same time, the number of underemployed persons fell slightly, by around 1,000 to 16,000.
Situation improves as economic activity picks up
The unemployment situation continued to improve in October-December, as total employment increased along with the sustained revival in economic activity.
Increased labour demand around the Christmas and New Year Holidays was also a contributing factor. Employment gains occurred fairly extensively across many of the major economic sectors, including in particular the retail trade, transport, real estate, decoration and maintenance, business services, and amusement and recreational services.
Although the employment situation had been improving, the Government will continue to do its best to help those with low education, lesser skills, and limited working experience to enter the labour market.
Structural unemployment still a challenge: FS
Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Financial Secretary Henry Tang said the structural unemployment is still a major challenge for Hong Kong.
It is difficult to predict how much further the unemployment rate will drop, Mr Tang said, adding that he hopes our economy will improve and enterprises will continue hiring staff.
He said the Government attaches great importance to the issue and has reserved money to tackle the problem although we are now facing a serious fiscal deficit problem.
$1.2b set aside to further tackle unemployment
It has set aside $1.2 billion to implement three employment-related measures, as the Chief Executive announced in his 2004 Policy Address.
About 11,600 temporary jobs in the public sector will also be extended. The successful Youth Work Experience & Training Scheme will be continued for another two years to find jobs for 10,000 young people.
A one-year Youth Self-employment Support Scheme will also be introduced to train and assist 1,000 young people to become self-employed.
City of Life
January 22nd, 2004, 06:20 PM
40% of hygiene blackspots cleaned
Facelift: Secretary for Home Affairs Dr Patrick Ho inspects the cleanliness of an alley.
Sixty-six of 175 hygiene blackspots identified by Team Clean have been cleansed in recent months.
Secretary for Home Affairs Dr Patrick Ho said today that since May the Home Affairs Department has been co-ordinating monthly clean-up operations throughout Hong Kong with the support of Government departments, local organisations and the public.
To help inspect hygiene conditions and identify problem sites, the department has recruited more than 2,400 volunteers from local organisations to form 170 hygiene squads.
As the Lunar New Year approaches, the department has further mobilised over 4,000 people to help in special clean-up operations.
Closed-circuit television cameras have been installed, on a trial basis, at selected venues in Yuen Long, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City and Yau Tsim Mong to monitor hygiene problems.
"At the end of the trial period, the department will assess the effectiveness of CCTV in improving the level of cleanliness. We will then decide on what to do next," Dr Ho said, adding that concerted and sustained efforts to clean the environment are vital to showing our status as a world-class city.
Back alley cleaned up . . .
A lane called Tai Pei Square was one of six pilot projects launched by Team Clean last August to develop an inter-departmental partnership in tackling environmental hygiene blackspots. Dr Ho said he is impressed by the great improvement in the lane's hygiene.
"When I first came here last April the conditions were filthy with leaking pipes, choked ditches, illegal structures, walls covered in grime, puddles of water and pests all over the place. I am pleased to find the surface repaved, surface channels reconstructed, defective drainage rectified, walls cleaned, and unauthorised building works removed."
He attributed this to the hard work of Government departments and the co-operation of residents.
. . . but there is room for improvement
Despite the determination of the majority of the population to keep clean, environmental hygiene problems persist in certain areas.
In his visit to another lane near Tai Pei Square, Dr Ho was disappointed to find hygienic conditions remained substandard due to the irresponsible behaviour of some residents.
"It is a disgrace that some people are still treating rear lanes as common dumping grounds and creating other environmental nuisance. We will not be able to eradicate all hygiene blackspots unless everyone pitches in," he said.
"I appeal to all sectors of the community to observe personal, home and environmental hygiene. Make it a habit to keep clean and make our city truly clean and healthy."
Dr Ho also visited several shops run by Nepalese merchants in Kwun Chung, Yau Tsim Mong. He distributed environmental hygiene leaflets in Nepalese and asked for their support in keeping Hong Kong clean.
He called on people to stay vigilant on environmental cleanliness and personal hygiene during the Lunar New Year holiday, such as during Friday night's fireworks spectacular and when travelling abroad.
City of Life
January 22nd, 2004, 06:22 PM
SARS security high as holiday approaches
Secure boundary: Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa inspects Lo Wu Control Point.
The next two weeks will remain a high-risk period for a possible SARS resurgence, Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa says, adding that we must do our best on disease surveillance and prepare for the worst.
Speaking after visiting Lo Wu Control Point today, Mr Tung said the Department of Health's checks have been stepped up at immigration points to tighten surveillance at the boundary.
Noting that more than 8.5 million people will pass through immigration points over the Lunar New Year holiday, Mr Tung said it is not an easy task to handle such a huge number of people and thanked staff for their dedicated service.
72 Mainland hospitals ready to fight SARS
Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong said the Ministry of Health has notified Hong Kong that 72 hospitals in major Mainland cities and provinces have been designated to treat patients from Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and also overseas visitors who come down with atypical pneumonia.
The names of these hospitals are available on the Department of Health's webpage.
"So if anyone in Hong Kong goes back to the Mainland and unfortunately feels unwell and suspects that they have pneumonia and wishes to seek medical consultation, they can go to these 72 designated hospitals," Dr Yeoh said.
He added that it is important to look after your health, and ensuring good food and environmental hygiene is key to a happy and healthy holiday.
City of Life
January 22nd, 2004, 06:29 PM
Publicity on SARS prevention stepped up
Important information: The Department of Health has produced a series of publicity and educational materials to help promote SARS prevention.
The Department of Health has produced a series of publicity and educational materials on SARS prevention.
Aimed at the public, medical practitioners and tourists, they urge good personal and environmental hygiene.
They include television and radio announcements, posters carrying the theme 'Vigilant & Prepared', calendar cards and lai see packets for distribution at immigration checkpoints.
The department has also produced a booklet of SARS prevention tips which is available at District Offices, and it has also been uploaded to the SARS homepage: http://www.info.gov.hk/info/sars/e_hkcomm.htm
Guidelines have been issued to operators of homes for the disabled, and are also available on the department's website. The department and the Medical Association have teamed to promote a 'Guideline on SARS for Private Medical Practitioners'. The guidelines have been uploaded to its website: http://www.info.gov.hk/dh/
The department and the Medical Association have teamed to promote a 'Guideline on SARS for Private Medical Practitioners'. The guidelines have been uploaded to its website.
Caution called for homes for the aged
The department reminded residents and staff of all homes for the elderly to take precautious to prevent respiratory infections and ensure proper ventilation.
The precautions include:
* elderly-home staff, especially Infection Control Officers, should refer to the Guidelines on the Prevention of Communicable Diseases issued to them in October for precautionary measures and working procedures. An updated supplementary Guideline on the Prevention of SARS and Respiratory Tract Infection is being issued to all homes;
* staff should stay alert and adopt proper working procedures, including hand washing, to minimise the risk of cross infection among the elderly, and also for their own protection. Staff or seniors with respiratory infection symptoms should wear masks; and,
* Infection Control Officers should watch for unusual patterns of fever and other diseases in the home and follow the information exchange system mentioned in the guidelines, and report suspected outbreaks to the department and the Hospital Authority, plus the Social Welfare Department where appropriate.
[B]A list of hospitals providing SARS-related medical services for foreigners and residents of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan has been uploaded to the SARS website. For more information, call the department's 24-hour pre-recorded health education hotline 2833 0111 or the SARS hotline 187 2222 during office hours, or visit the department's website.
SARS Website (http://www.info.gov.hk/info/sars/eindex.htm)
Department of Health (www.info.gov.hk/dh)
City of Life
January 22nd, 2004, 06:34 PM
SARS experts hail health protection centre
SARS update: Members of the Monitoring Committee on Implementation of the SARS Expert Committee Report's Recommendations visit Princess Margaret Hospital.
SARS experts have hailed the creation of a Centre for Health Protection.
The move is one of the suggestions of the Monitoring Committee on Implementation of the SARS Expert Committee Report's Recommendations.
Committee Co-chairpersons Professor Sian Griffiths and Sir Cyril Chantler praised the move after visiting Princess Margaret Hospital today.
However, they said more needs to be done in preparing for any possible SARS resurgence, and Hong Kong needs more infectious disease doctors.
The committee was on its second day of checking the implementation progress of the 46 recommendations.
In looking at the planning, Prof Griffiths said there is more work to do, particularly in relation to hospitals and medical staff links.
"We think the Centre for Health Protection requires a rethink of relationships at the top of the office, that is, the bureau level about how medical advice is provided," she said.
"We did make this recommendation in our report and we just want to draw attention yet again to the need to look at the nature of the organisation of the bureau."
Stronger intelligence exchange needed with the Mainland
The experts said they are impressed with the progress Hong Kong has made in gearing itself up for a possible return of SARS. However, more needs to be done in some areas, which they will include in their report to the Chief Executive.
On training, Prof Griffiths said Hong Kong will need more infectious disease doctors and better public health training. The committee asked for a comprehensive work plan on training to be submitted at the next meeting.
Sir Cyril said he is happy to learn that cross-boundary intelligence exchange is much better since the last outbreak, but more needs to be done.
They also underlined the need to improve occupational health.
On inter-agency co-operation, they said the relationship between the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health and the private sector has improved.
Sir Cyril said he will also emphasise the importance of co-operation between universities and health authorities when he meets the institutes tomorrow to exchange views on research and training.
City of Life
January 26th, 2004, 11:03 AM
Statistics reflect HK's economic shift
Statistics from the Census & Statistics Department show that Hong Kong experienced significant economic changes in the last decade, as it continued its shift from a manufacturing-based centre to a service and financial centre.
According to the "Hong Kong Social & Economic Trends" published by the Census & Statistics Department, the manufacturing sector's contribution to GDP declined to 4.6% in 2002 from 13.5% in 1992.
Structural changes: While Hong Kong's GDP is on the rise, the manufacturing sector's share of GDP declines to 4.6% in 2002 from 13.5% in 1992; and the number of people engaged in the sector drops significantly to197,878 in 2001 from 651,404 in 1991.
As Hong Kong developed into an important regional trading and financial centre, the service sectors' GDP share also increased, to 87.4% in 2002 from 78.8% in 1992.
Measured in terms of constant prices, net output in all the service sectors taken together grew at an average annual rate of 2.4% in real terms from 2000 to 2002.
Meanwhile, net output in the local manufacturing sector decreased at an average annual rate of 9.2% in real terms from 2000 to 2002.
There was a significant change in the structure of employment in the past decade, with a continuous shift in employment from the manufacturing sector to the wholesale, retail and import/export trades, restaurants and hotels sector, the financing, insurance, real estate and business services sector as well as the community, social and personal services sector.
Fewer people employed in manufacturing
Results of the "Annual Survey of Industrial Production" showed that the number of people engaged in the manufacturing sector dipped to 197, 878 in 2001 from 651,404 in 1991.
The ratio of value-added to gross output of the manufacturing sector amounted to about 30% from 1991 to 2001.
Over the same period, average value-added per person engaged increased by about 120%.
Value-added reflects the output accrued to workers as compensation of employees and to employers as operating surplus.
The distributive trades sector, which comprised the wholesale, retail, import/export trades, restaurants and hotels industries, experienced significant growth in employment in the past 10 years. Its share of employment rose to 51% in 2002 from 43% in 1992.
In the sector comprising financing, insurance, real estate and business services, business services and financial institutions continued to be the two largest industries in terms of employment. They amounted for 74% of the sector's total employment in 2002.
Business services' share rose to 46% in 2002 from 38% in 1992.
Business services include legal services, accounting services, advertising, public relations and market research services, and rental of machinery and equipment.
Wages increase 4.1% annually
Hong Kong's wage rate is often regarded as the culprit of our high business cost. However, according to the "Hong Kong Social & Economic Trends", based on the Nominal Wage Index, the wage rate for all the industry sectors taken as a whole rose by 49.7% in money terms from 1992 to 2002, representing an average annual increase of 4.1%.
Discounting the changes in consumer prices, the corresponding real wage rate, based on the Real Wage Index, registered an increase of 17.8% during the period -an average annual increase of 1.7%.
Hong Kong's standard of living has improved in the last decade. In real terms, private expenditures grew at an average rate of 2.7% between 1992 and 2002. Public expenditures grew at an average annual rate of 2.9% in the same period.
Over the past decade, deficits were recorded in Hong Kong's external merchandise trade every year.
Trade deficits narrow markedly
The trade deficits rose in general in terms of both absolute value and percentage share of imports of goods between 1992 and 1997. However, those deficits narrowed markedly in the past five years.
In 2002, a trade deficit of $58.9 billion was recorded. This represented 3.6% of imports of goods.
Despite a sluggish economy over the past few years, our GDP for 2002 at constant market prices rose to $1.32 trillion, 1.4 times the corresponding figure in 1992.
This represented an average annual growth rate of 3.6% in real terms between 1992 and 2002.
Income flows enormous
Between 1993 and 2002, the income flows between Hong Kong and the rest of the world were enormous, reflecting Hong Kong's status as a major international financial centre.
During the period, the ratios of both factor-income inflow and outflow to GDP at current market prices were around 31%.
In the past few years, Hong Kong's current-account balances have been in surplus, an indication that Hong Kong was saving more than it was investing. A $118.1 billion current-account surplus (9.4% of GDP) was recorded for 2002, larger than that of $77.5 billion (6.1% of GDP) in 2001.
At the end of 2002, Hong Kong's external financial assets and liabilities amounted to $8.02 trillion and $5.38 trillion respectively, resulting in a net international investment position of $2.65 trillion.
Hong Kong's total external financial assets exceeded its financial liabilities, making Hong Kong a net creditor.
City of Life
January 26th, 2004, 11:05 AM
Total exports grow 12% in November
The volume of Hong Kong's re-exports of goods rose 13% in November compared with the same month in 2002, while domestic exports fell 1.1%.
Taken together, the volume of total exports of goods grew 12%. Concurrently, the volume of imports rose 14.9%.
Comparing the first 11 months of 2003 with the same period in 2002, the volume of Hong Kong's re-exports of goods rose 15.7%, while domestic exports fell 8.5%. Taken together, the volume of total exports of goods grew 13.6%. Concurrently, imports rose 12.2% in volume.
Comparing the three-month period ending November with the preceding three months on a seasonally adjusted basis, the volume of total exports of goods rose 2.4%. Within this, the volume of re-exports rose 2.7%, while domestic exports fell 1.5%. Concurrently, the volume of imports of goods rose 6.3%.
Comparing November with the same month in 2002, the prices of re-exports of goods fell 1.6%, and those of domestic exports by 1.4%. Taken together, the prices of total exports of goods fell 1.7%. Concurrently, the prices of imports of goods were virtually unchanged.
On price changes in the first 11 months of 2003 over the same period in 2002, the prices of re-exports of goods fell 1.6%, while those of domestic exports rose 0.3%. Taken together, the prices of total exports of goods were down 1.4%. Concurrently, the prices of imports of goods fell 0.4%.
City of Life
January 26th, 2004, 11:07 AM
21k individual Mainland visitors recorded on Friday
About 21,000 Mainlanders travelled to Hong Kong individually yesterday, Director of Immigration Lai Tung-kwok says. More are expected in the next couple of days.
Speaking on a radio talk show today, Mr Lai said most of the Mainlanders passed through immigration points at about 6pm and 7pm.
To handle the influx, the Immigration and other Government Departments have set up a command post to monitor the situation.
Close liaison with the Guangdong Provincial Tourism Administration will also be maintained to watch visitor flow. Visitor figures will be released on the department's and the administration's websites.
Mr Lai said to handle the increasing number of visitors, the department aims to implement the Automated Passenger & Vehicle Clearance Systems in phases from the end of the year.
Noting that funds for the systems have been approved by the Legislative Council, Mr Lai said the contract will be awarded soon.
Mr Lai said the systems will support self-service immigration clearance by Hong Kong permanent residents holding smart identity cards. The system will cut clearance time of travellers and vehicles.
City of Life
January 26th, 2004, 11:12 AM
Next wave of e-Gov't more customer-centric
Future directions: E-Government Coordinator Robin Gill says the next wave of e-government will focus on "joining up" Government departments and making e-services more customer-centric.
While the first wave of e-Government has met the target of providing e-options for 90% of public services amenable to electronic mode of service delivery, the next wave of e-Government will focus on "joining up" Government departments and making e-services more customer-centric.
In an interview with news.gov.hk, E-Government Coordinator Robin Gill said the first wave of e-Government has made a good start. Now it is time to look at ways to sustain the momentum and drive up the use of e-options.
"About 1,200 public services are now available electronically and the basic infrastructure is in place. In the next phase, we will be putting a greater focus on customers," Mr Gill said.
A better understanding of clients
"What we need to do is to put ourselves in the perspective of members of the public. We will be getting departments to have a clear idea of who their customers are.
"We will pilot a channel-management strategy in a small number of departments to help them have a better understanding of customers' needs and deliver more tailor-made services."
The Government is now undergoing a business process re-engineering which aims to ensure the bureaux and departments take full advantage of e-Government to improve operational efficiency and quality of service delivery.
"Before we give money to departments for computer projects, we will ask them to go back and look at their business process again to see how they can make the process more efficient and their services more user-friendly, perhaps cheaper to the public."
Making Government websites more user-friendly is another way to drive up their use, Mr Gill said. Apart from developing a "common look and feel" design for them, the Government will also try to improve its search engine, making it easier for people to find what they want.
'Joined-up Gov't' approach to be adopted
In the first wave of e-Government, most of the IT projects were departmental-centric, Mr Gill said, adding that it will be a challenge to make them more customer-oriented.
"From the public's point of view, people are not interested in which department provides a particular service. If two or three departments can get together to jointly provide different elements of a service, members of the public may just need to go to one department website for that service but not three different websites."
The Property Information Hub, which is now being developed, is one of the example of this "Joined-up Government" approach. The hub will provide one-stop access to property information.
"The hub will enable users to access property-related information held by the Rating & Valuation Department, Land Registry, Lands Department and Buildings Department on one site, electronically," Mr Gill said.
To ensure that the hub delivers what the customers need, the Government conducted a customer survey in late 2003 and sought views on service bundling, search method, charging and other related matters. The first phase of this hub is expected to be rolled out in 2005.
"In due course, more departments will join the hub and we believe the information provided by the hub will enable the private sector to introduce value-added information or services concerning the property market."
Other "Joined-up Government" projects include Smart ID Card, Business Entry Portal, Integrated Criminal Justice System and Easy Change of Address.
More new technology welcomed
Speaking on the exploitation of new technology, Mr Gill said the Information Technology Services Department is now looking at the potential of mobile-services and the feasibility of the introduction of m-Government.
To leverage on one of the world's highest mobile penetration rates, in November 2003 the Electronic Service Delivery operator introduced a mobile telephone service for the smart identity card appointment booking, using SMS technology.
"As technology develops, the Government will wish to look for more and more other applications which can help us to become more efficient," Mr Gill said.
City of Life
January 26th, 2004, 11:17 AM
Smart footbridge meets traffic demand
The recently opened New Pedder Street Footbridge - with a skylight roof and stainless-steel columns - lends an artistic touch to the bustling Central business district. It runs parallel to its concrete counterpart, the Pedder Street Footbridge, which has been in use for years.
Stylish functionality: The New Pedder Street Footbridge (left), built with specially treated stainless steel columns (centre) and a skylight roof (right), blends in well with surrounding commercial developments.
"This serves as an additional pedestrian link between the MTR station entrance at Connaught Road Central and the Central elevated walkway system to cope with the increasing pedestrian flow after the occupation of the International Finance Centre Phase Two and other new developments," Highways Department engineer William Lau told news.gov.hk.
The original Pedder Street Footbridge has a maximum capacity of 18,000 pedestrians per hour. The estimated peak hourly pedestrian flow is expected to rise to 23,000 in 2011.
To cater for the surge in pedestrians, the new six-metre wide footbridge is necessary to keep the city on the move.
New structure mingles with commercial developments
"Aesthetically speaking, the new footbridge is designed to blend with the surrounding prestigious commercial developments in a harmonious manner, in particular its skylight roof and stainless steel columns," Mr Lau said.
The roof is composed of 98 pieces of tempered glass, making the footbridge appear more spacious and enabling pedestrians to enjoy natural light. The glass panels are also screened with white stripes to filter sunlight.
Each glass panel is laminated with a layer of PVB film so that if they are broken by an unexpected force, the pieces will be held together, safeguarding pedestrians.
Elegant, simple design, easy to maintain
Unlike conventional cladding finishes, columns and beams of the new footbridge are made of stainless steel.
"The columns' surface has also been specially treated with a finish to give a 'satin' and stylish look. This will also help prevent finger marks from staining the columns."
To echo the skylight roof, tempered glass parapets and stainless steel balustrades were chosen.
"They have an elegant yet simple design and at the same time possesses a less bulky appearance than conventional railings," Mr Lau said.
Durable black granite tiles on the floor are good looking - and easy to maintain.
New structure attracts tourists
Despite its stylish and modern look, the new footbridge did not cost more than conventional ones.
The unit construction cost for the New Pedder Street Footbridge is about $22,500 per square metre, which falls within the average of $20,000-$25,000 per square metre for conventional footbridges.
The new structure looks attractive, is reasonably priced and functional. It has also attracted visitors' attention. Mr Lau watched several groups of tourists taking pictures on the footbridge soon after it opened to the public on October 14. Next time you walk past Connaught Road in Central, be sure to admire this new tourist attraction.
City of Life
January 26th, 2004, 11:19 AM
Forum set to tap public service reform ideas
A forum will be held on February 10 and 11 to garner reform ideas from all sectors to facilitate the efficient and effective delivery of public services, the Efficiency Unit says.
The one-and-a-half day forum, Changing the Face of Government - Making it Happen, will be attended by 1,200 directorate staff, senior executives and professionals from Government departments, public bodies and private companies.
Key public office holders will share their insights and experiences with the aim of improving the delivery of public services.
Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang will open the conference. Four keynote speakers will then draw on their experiences in senior public service positions to talk about overcoming challenges in improving service delivery.
They are former British Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary Sir Robin Mountfield, former Australian Department of Finance & Administration Deputy Secretary Len Early, former Senior Policy Advisor on Reinventing the US Government Morley Winograd and Australia's former Treasurer of Victoria Alan Stockdale.
The main topics covered in the conference include managing people and organisations, financial management, harnessing and private sector involvement.
A wide range of local and overseas speakers from public and private sectors will join the four keynote speakers and elaborate on the conference themes
More details of the forum are available at the Efficiency Unit's website: www.info.gov.hk/eu
City of Life
February 4th, 2004, 01:12 PM
Top US asset management firm opens HK office
OppenheimerFunds Inc., one of the largest US asset management companies, has established its first overseas office with OppenheimerFunds (Asia) Limited in Hong Kong.
The company will use Hong Kong as its regional headquarters to develop business here and in other regional markets.
Attending its opening ceremony today, Financial Secretary Henry Tang said he is delighted the company has chosen Hong Kong. "This represents a vote of confidence in Hong Kong's sound economic fundamentals and strengthens our leading position as an international fund management centre in Asia," he said.
Extensive opportunities in HK
OppenheimerFunds Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer John Murphy said Hong Kong offers extensive opportunities, including the sheer size of its mutual fund market.
"The great potential and demand for financial products in this vibrant city provides the ideal environment for us to establish our first overseas office," he said.
Founded in 1960, OppenheimerFunds will initially offer 11 products in Hong Kong in three main categories - Global Equity Funds, US Equity Funds and Income Funds.
The company also plans to launch an educational programme to raise the awareness and knowledge of local retail investors about their funds.
Together with its subsidiaries, it manages more than US$150 billion in assets. The assets are managed under more than 65 US domestic and offshore mutual funds held in over seven million shareholder accounts.
City of Life
February 4th, 2004, 01:21 PM
HK to host ISPA Int'l Congress 2006
Hong Kong will host the 2006 International Society for the Performing Arts International Congress.
Hosting the Congress will help promote Hong Kong's image as Asia's world city and raise its profile in the international arts scene, strengthening its role as the hub of the cultural exchange.
The four-day Congress will take place from June 8 to 11, 2006. In addition to the major conference and panel sessions, there will be social and cultural events showcasing outstanding arts performances and ISPA awards and special tailor-made sessions for budding artists.
Each year ISPA holds two major conferences to discuss issues of professional concern and provide opportunities for business and cultural exchanges. While the annual conference takes place at its New York Headquarters in December, the location of its June International Congress changes each year.
In 2004, the June Congress will be held in Mexico City. In 2005, it will be held in Gateshead, UK.
City of Life
February 4th, 2004, 01:23 PM
60% of households now online
Some 67.5% of all households in Hong Kong, 1.48 million homes, had a personal computer last year.
A Government survey found that among them, some 1.31 million (88.8%) had their PC connected to the Internet, representing 60% of all households here.
The survey, conducted by the Census & Statistics Department, reveals a significant increase on 2002 when 62.1% of households had a PC at home and 52.5% had their PC connected to the Internet.
In the business sector, the percentage of establishments using PCs and having Internet connections remained stable at 54.8% and 47.5% respectively. The corresponding percentages in 2002 were 54.5% and 44.2%.
In a meeting today, the Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee was briefed on the survey results. Members also endorsed a series of recommendations to further promote the wider adoption of wireless services and technology in Hong Kong.
The major recommendations include:
* enhancing enterprise awareness of business benefits, capabilities (including the security aspects) and service offerings of wireless solutions;
* encouraging continuous development of information security technologies solutions, generic products based on open standards, and seamless end-to-end Chinese language-supported IT systems with wireless extensions;
* continuing to promote wider use of wireless services within the Government, a key IT user, in line with established e-government policy; and,
* fostering closer co-operation between various information and communication technology sectors.
City of Life
February 4th, 2004, 01:25 PM
New portal provides HK business information
A new business portal - www.business.gov.hk - now provides local, Mainland and overseas investors with essential information on how to start or expand a business in Hong Kong.
The Communications & Technology Branch of the Commerce, Industry & Technology Bureau developed the site, which offers access to information sources, including Government departments, public bodies and trade associations.
E-Government Coordinator Robin Gill said the portal is a government-to-business gateway providing a single point of entry to up-to-date and comprehensive content and services.
Website user-friendly, customer centric
It is designed to be user-friendly for corporations as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, he added.
Apart from Government material, information and services from commercial sources will be included to increase the portal's value to users.
The website provides detailed information under the following headings:
* Start your Business;
* Finance your Business;
* Grow your Business; and
* Manage your Business.
A range of e-services offered by public and private sectors, as well as tools for enterprise performance assessment, are available on the website. Users may also gain access to other local and worldwide business information through the search engine.
City of Life
February 4th, 2004, 01:28 PM
HK experts to help treat bird flu in Vietnam
A team of Hong Kong experts will head to Hanoi tomorrow to assist Vietnamese doctors with the clinical aspects of human avian influenza treatment.
The team will be led by Department of Health honorary consultant Professor Yuen Kwok-yung of HK University. Other members are Chinese University Professor David Hui and the Hospital Authority's Dr Chu Chung-ming and Dr Ng Yiu-ki.
The trip has been arranged at the request of the Vietnamese Ministry of Health.
In Hanoi, the team will provide support in establishing clinical protocols for the triage of patients admitted to hospital; management of patients with influenza-like illness or community-acquired pneumonia; development of diagnostic algorithms for influenza-like illnesses; specific hospital treatment protocols for suspected and confirmed H5N1 patients; and, training in influenza infection control measures.
Their activities will include visits to major hospitals in Hanoi, lectures, training sessions and ward rounds.
City of Life
February 4th, 2004, 01:32 PM
Japan grants visa-free access to HK visitors
Starting April 1, the Japanese government will grant visa-free access for up to 90 days for Hong Kong SAR passport holders wishing to visit Japan.
Chief Secretary Tsang made the announcement after meetings in Tokyo with Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi, Minister of Justice Daizo Nozawa, who is responsible for immigration, and Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Nobuteru Ishihara, who is responsible for tourism.
Confidence in "One Country, Two Systems"
"This is a landmark arrangement that will produce significant benefits for both Japan and Hong Kong by strengthening our economic and cultural links," Mr Tsang said.
"It also demonstrates the Japanese Government's confidence in Hong Kong's immigration controls under 'One Country, Two Systems'. Hong Kong travellers are law-abiding and are trouble-free money-spenders."
Visa-free access for HKSAR passport holders is the result of several years of discussions between Hong Kong and Japanese officials, he said.
129 countries give visa-free access
"Since 1997, our officials have been lobbying diligently to achieve this visa-free arrangement. I am grateful to all those in Japan and Hong Kong who have worked so hard to conclude this breakthrough."
Including Japan, 129 countries and territories have now agreed to grant HKSAR passport holders visa-free access. "This is an important milestone in the HKSAR Government's efforts to enhance travel convenience for Hong Kong residents. "
Last year, about 480,000 Hong Kong residents visited Japan, making Hong Kong one of the top five sources of visitors to the country.
Currently, HKSAR passport holders require visas to enter Japan. Visa fees for both multiple and single entries are HK$71. Japanese nationals may enter Hong Kong visa-free for up to 90 days.
Update Japanese lawmakers
During his Tokyo visit, in addition to his meetings with the ministers, Mr Tsang spoke to the Japan-Hong Kong Parliamentarian League, updating the Japanese lawmakers on Hong Kong's post-SARS economic recovery and Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement with the Mainland.
He also visited the new Roppongi Hills redevelopment project, a large-scale arts and culture district, and officiated at the "Travel Man of the Year" Award Ceremony organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
The Chief Secretary returns to Hong Kong tomorrow morning.
City of Life
February 10th, 2004, 11:11 AM
US biomedical company sets up base in Hong Kong ( 09/02/2004 )
San Diego-based biomedical company MedWaves Inc is expanding its operations into Hong Kong using its new base to develop and commercialise its proprietary microwave technology throughout Asia.
The president of MedWaves Inc, Dr George Leung, explained the reasons for setting up a base in Hong Kong. "The quality of the people, the resources, and the location were the primary factors that led us to select Hong Kong to be the base for development and commercialisation of our microwave catheter ablation system in Asia. We are extremely impressed with the work ethic and quality of work here. Hong Kong has a wealth of talented technical and marketing professionals who can readily adjust to new technology," said Dr Leung.
"Being located in the centre of Asia, with strong financial and manufacturing infrastructures, Hong Kong is an excellent location to facilitate the production and distribution of our products," he added.
MedWaves Inc's chief operating officer Dr Ming-Fan Law said it is Hong Kong's world-class medical expertise which draws the company to the SAR. "We are in the business of providing cures for heart rhythm abnormalities. Hong Kong has world-class cardiologists and electrophysiologists that are essential for MedWaves Hong Kong to successfully conduct and complete its pre-clinical and clinical studies in Asia."
Mike Rowse, director general of investment promotion at InvestHK, a government department tasked with attracting and retaining overseas investment to Hong Kong said MedWaves' presence underscores Hong Kong's "excellent business environment for biotechnology companies."
City of Life
February 10th, 2004, 11:14 AM
A prescription for worldwide industry standard ( 09/02/2004 )
Singapore-listed global healthcare group Eu Yan Sang International finds Hong Kong the perfect platform for developing its core business in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Hong Kong's recent enactment of strict new benchmarks regulating the quality of TCM products sets the right direction for the Chinese medicine industry worldwide, according to Alice Wong, managing director of Eu Yan Sang (Hong Kong ) Limited.
"This represents a major step in Hong Kong's development as an international centre for the manufacture and supply of Chinese medicines," Ms Wong said. "It is important for our company to be Hong Kong, where we have easy access to data information from China along with the support and infrastructure necessary to run a global business."
Eu Yan Sang, a brand name established for over 120 years, manufactures and sells prescription TCMs through over 80 retail outlets in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. It has two production plants - in Chai Wan, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - and also operates a chain of TCM clinics and integrative medical centres in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.
Rigorous testing process
As part of its commitment to providing safe, high-quality Chinese medicines, Eu Yan Sang uses accredited laboratories to conduct in-depth analytical testing on each batch of its products. In addition to testing for toxicity and heavy metal content, it also obtains genetic "fingerprints" of the herbs used to ensure their quality and efficacy.
The company's presence in Hong Kong allows it to focus on advanced, state-of-the-art R&D in collaboration with world-class academic institutions, Ms Wong explained. Three such collaborative studies have been scheduled for this year - two with the Institute of Chinese Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and one with the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals. The projects include clinical trials on anti-viral formulas (including treatments for flu and Sars) and products designed to ease symptoms of menopause.
Ms Wong welcomed Hong Kong's new requirement, effective as of December 2003, that all proprietary Chinese medicines manufactured or sold in Hong Kong be registered under the Chinese Medicines Ordinance. Only those proven to comply with the required standards of safety, quality and efficacy will be approved for registration.
Industry to benefit
"Although these changes will mean extra costs for manufacturers and dealers, the general public will benefit in that there will be enhanced assurance of the safety, efficacy and quality of the registered Chinese medicines," Ms Wong said.
"Hong Kong's status as a hub for the manufacture and dealing of Chinese medicines will be well established. The Chinese medicine industry worldwide will ultimately benefit from these changes."
Eu Yan Sang plans to open several new shops in Hong Kong this year, and believes the new regulations will only serve to further strengthen its presence in the Chinese mainland.
"Chinese medicines manufactured in Hong Kong already carry a fine reputation in the mainland," Ms Wong said. "Implementation of the new regulations will inevitably build up more confidence in Chinese medicines produced in Hong Kong."
City of Life
February 11th, 2004, 10:12 AM
Barclays sets up regional hub in HK ( 09/02/2004 )
UK-based banking giant Barclays has made Hong Kong its hub for regional expansion. The company said its new international and offshore banking operations in Hong Kong would target affluent investors all over Asia.
Hong Kong jumps 11 places in EIU survey ( 09/02/2004 )
Hong Kong has scored top marks in a survey of living conditions for expatriates by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Respondents applauded Hong Kong’s transport and housing, utility networks, availability of consumer goods and safety from crime or terrorism. Hong Kong jumped 11 places to number 33, the biggest improvement, in a survey of 130 world cities.
City of Life
February 21st, 2004, 05:46 PM
Anti-spam solution provider sets its regional base in Hong Kong
A New-Zealand-invested anti-spam and security service provider, MailProve Limited, today (19 February) announced that the company has chosen Hong Kong to set up its regional headquarters at Cyberport. The Hong Kong base will oversee various strategic development, corporate expansion, sales and marketing and administrative functions.
The Chief Executive Officer of MailProve Limited, Mr Jeffrey Vong, said, "Hong Kong is ideally situated in the centre of Asia, which is important for companies like us that conduct business in more than one market in the region. We can conveniently and efficiently travel to, and communicate with, the rest of the region, including the Mainland.”
MailProve Limited, a New-Zealand-invested company, was incorporated in Hong Kong in 2003. It focuses mainly on providing anti-spam solutions to its customers in the Asia Pacific region.
“Another reason for us to choose Hong Kong is its excellent business environment which offers great opportunities for IT companies like ours. Our customers are mainly ISPs, managed service providers, hosting companies and enterprises with their own mail servers. We believe that Hong Kong, with well established IT and telecommunications infrastructure in place, allows us to stay close to the latest developments in the industry. Its proximity and close ties to the Mainland provides another attraction to us. That’s why we decided to build our base in Hong Kong.”
MailProve’s headquarters in Hong Kong will be used as a strategic location to tap into target markets in the Asia Pacific region, including Australia, New Zealand, Mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Korea.
“With our new strategic move in Hong Kong, we are confident that we will succeed in Hong Kong, set the de facto standard and become the leading anti-spam provider in the region. Hong Kong offers what we need to develop our businesses in the region.” Mr Vong said.
The Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong, Mr John Rutherford, welcomed MailProve’s decision. He said, "Hong Kong is the international business hub of Asia, providing world-class IT infrastructure for a wide spectrum of IT companies to develop their business, including anti-spam and security solutions. MailProve’s selection of Hong Kong demonstrates the market potential in the IT sector. It confirms Hong Kong as having the competitive edge for commercialisation of technologies and serving as the platform for introducing new services to the Mainland and the rest of the Asia Pacific region."
“We are pleased to see more IT companies like MailProve setting up their regional or global headquarters in Hong Kong. InvestHK will continue to work closely with business community to bring more IT companies to Hong Kong, further strengthening Hong Kong’s position as one of the leading and most sophisticated IT hubs in Asia,” Mr Rutherford said.
Invest Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government’s one-stop shop for overseas companies who are interested in establishing or expanding their presence here.
End/Thursday, 19 February, 2004