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Visit to New York

To properly address our housing, poverty, ageing population and environmental problems, we need to achieve a higher rate of economic growth. Bearing in mind that there is "no gain without pain", my team and I attach great importance to promoting Hong Kong abroad while working hard to open the Mainland market. That is why soon after my trip to Shanghai last week I embarked on a tightly scheduled visit to New York.
Hong Kong and New York have long been good partners, and this promotional trip was strongly supported by our business and financial sectors, with over 200 people joining the delegation.

Over the course of two days I attended the "Think Asia, Think Hong Kong" symposium organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the "Hong Kong Dinner". Drawing much attention from the US business community, these activities had an attendance of over 1 000. In addition, I went to an Asia Society dinner, which was attended by many business heavyweights including Mr Rupert Murdoch from the media sector; the Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs Mr Mark Swartz; and Mr Jerry Speyer from the real estate sector. The enthusiastic response to these activities shows the importance that the US business sector attaches to Hong Kong.

I also met with some political and business leaders in New York, including the Mayor of New York City, Mr Michael Bloomberg; President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Mr William Dudley; Chief Executive Officer of New York Stock Exchange, Mr Duncan Niederauer; and members of the National Committee on United States-China Relations. On each of these occasions I sent out a key message - with its close ties to the Mainland of China and its advantages as an international city, Hong Kong can serve as a super-connector in the China-US economic and trade relationship.

In Hong Kong, we have free flow of information supported by advanced information technology. We also possess comprehensive, accurate and readily available information on the economic, business and financial situation around the world. Thus equipped, Hong Kong can act as our country's Chief Knowledge Officer. We can help the international economic and trade community learn more about the Mainland of China with our experience, knowledge and networks built up over many years of doing business in the Mainland. On the other hand, we can also help Mainland enterprises go global by providing them with the information, contacts and professional services they need.

To perform the functions of a super-connector well, we must first strengthen our ties with the Mainland. The current term Government has done a great deal in this area, especially on the government-to-government (G2G) and business-to-business (B2B) levels.

The SAR Government has been active in its G2G work. For example, during my visit to Beijing in April this year, I called on the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Commerce. Together we made notable progress in various areas, including the SAR Government supporting the NDRC's interim review of the implementation of the 12th Five-Year Plan, as well as the NDRC's agreement to the participation of the SAR Government in preliminary work on the formulation of the 13th Five-Year Plan, so that the finalised plan would better meet Hong Kong's development needs. These two critical decisions enable Hong Kong to capitalise more effectively on the opportunities arising from the country's development and enhance its competitiveness while contributing to the further development of the country.

On the B2B level, our biggest advantage comes from the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). Under CEPA, goods of Hong Kong origin imported into the Mainland enjoy zero-tariff preferential treatment, while Hong Kong service suppliers are given preferential access to the Mainland market in various service areas. Foreign companies incorporated in Hong Kong also enjoy the full benefits of CEPA. As proposed in my Policy Address, a joint working group with the Mainland authorities has been set up to enhance the mechanism for the implementation of CEPA. The group will hold its first meeting this month. I trust that it will help further improve the implementation of CEPA.

With our own quality services and the country's strong policy support, Hong Kong is well positioned and well equipped to serve as a super-connector between the nation and the rest of the world. This will add momentum to our economic development and enable us to build a brighter future for everyone in Hong Kong.

June 11, 2013 (New York time)