Chief Executive CY Leung
It's a great pleasure to be here, on my first official visit to Indonesia. I've certainly picked the right reason, the right time, and the right place to be in Indonesia. Over the next three days, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's ambitious In Style • Hong Kong promotion will showcase the best of Hong Kong in two high-powered, highly appealing, areas: our smartly styled lifestyle products and our internationally in-demand business services.
And what better place to do so than Jakarta, Indonesia's business, cultural, creative and political capital. Indeed, Jakarta is a rising global powerhouse buoyed by a surging economy and an ambitious, increasingly brand-conscious population.
That's why we're here with In Style • Hong Kong, a brand and services promotion counting more than 180 Hong Kong companies. Together, we can help satisfy your consumer and your business services' needs, wants and wishes.
While this year's In Style • Hong Kong may be new, it arrives as a high-profile expansion of the HKTDC's Lifestyle Expo in Jakarta, which took place here over the previous three years.
And when it comes to doing business, Hong Kong and Indonesia have a long and mutually rewarding history. Last year, our total merchandise trade exceeded US$5 billion, up nearly 2% over the previous year. Through the first six months of this year, it's up again - 2.5%, year on year. And our services trade in 2014 was worth some US$1.4 billion, an increase of nearly 7% over 2013 results.
Good numbers, to be sure, and with the promise of much more to come as Indonesia's 250 million people continue to urbanise, to demand the best that the world has to offer.
The strength of Indonesia pushes well past the limits of its vast archipelago. You are a key member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, our important partner in commerce and trade. Indeed, ASEAN is Hong Kong's second-largest trading partner in goods and our fourth largest in services in the world.
Last year, the total value of merchandise trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN exceeded US$106 billion - up 10% over the previous year. I am confident that our mutual trade and investment could only be better, generating new business opportunities while boosting economic growth on both sides.
Pact will boost trade
The ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement will certainly help. The FTA covers trade in goods and related issues, trade in services, investment, economic and technical co-operation, and dispute settlement. The fourth round of negotiations took place in July, in Singapore.
I look forward to the FTA's successful conclusion in the coming year. It will, I know, strengthen economic ties and co-operation between Hong Kong and Indonesia. With our help, it will encourage more Indonesian exports to the Mainland of China. Inevitably, more Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese investment will also find its way into Indonesia.
That connection is among Hong Kong's unique business strengths. I'm talking, of course, about our role - Hong Kong's role - as the super-connector between the Mainland of China and the world. Our free-trade experience and global connectivity have supported - indeed, fast-tracked - the Mainland's opening up to the world for more than three decades now.
More than the Mainland's largest investor, Hong Kong is the launching pad for Chinese companies and brands eager to take their products, services and capital to global markets - that of course includes Indonesia.
Equally important, we are the gateway for global business looking to Mainland markets. For good reason, starting with our tax system, which is low and blessedly uncomplicated. It helps, too, that we maintain a common law system underpinned by an independent judiciary and that intellectual property is rigorously protected.
Indeed, Hong Kong has been named the world's freest economy for each of the past 21 years by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. Three days ago, the Fraser Institute again ranked Hong Kong number one in the world in terms of economic freedom.
Level playing field
We are a very open and welcoming society. We believe in the free flow of people and information. We subscribe to a level playing field for business, wherever that business comes from. Nearly 7,600 overseas and Mainland Chinese companies are based in Hong Kong. The government does not compete with you. The government does not own businesses in Hong Kong to compete with businesses whether they are local or foreign.