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Hong Kong must seek further development as an externally oriented economy

In Hong Kong, more and more young people receive tertiary education. I disagree with the notion suggested by some that the Government should reduce the number of university places. I think that we should create more employment and career development opportunities for our young people. Hong Kong is a small place with a land area of only 1 100 square kilometres. To seek opportunities, we must look and go beyond the territory. As our largest trading partner, the Mainland of China warrants the attention of the Government; the industrial, commercial and professional sectors; and the public of Hong Kong. I believe that if our young people seize the opportunities in the Mainland and overseas, they can go far in their careers.

The current-term Government is committed to promoting economic development, because only when our economy keeps growing can we improve people's livelihoods and address issues such as housing, poverty, an ageing society and environmental protection. It is therefore imperative for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to capitalise on the enormous opportunities presented by the continued reform and opening up of the Mainland and enhance co-operation between Hong Kong and Mainland provinces and municipalities. Last week, I visited Guangdong exactly because I wanted to learn more about economic and trade co-operation between Hong Kong and eastern Guangdong so as to create more career development opportunities for Hong Kong people. One of my stops was Shantou. The investments and business development of Hong Kong enterprises there are examples that illustrate how Hong Kong and the Mainland can complement each other's strengths and create a win-win situation.

Last Thursday, I met with the Secretary of the CPC Shantou Municipal Committee, Mr Chen Maohui. He said that there are currently over 4 800 Hong Kong enterprises operating in Shantou, representing 81 per cent of all enterprises in the city, with investments amounting to over US$6.5 billion. This speaks volumes that Shantou provides a wide platform for Hong Kong enterprises to do business, an additional outlet for Hong Kong's capital and an alternative career pathway for our people. Apart from offering employment opportunities in Shantou, Hong Kong enterprises operating there also indirectly create business opportunities for our services sector, since the high-end services that they need for production, including financial, professional, business and logistics services, are all provided in Hong Kong.

Besides looking to the Mainland, I also attach great importance to forging closer economic and trade ties with our overseas trading partners, big and small. In the past couple of weeks, I met with the Vice Prime Minister of Romania and the Prime Minister of New Zealand separately at Government House. On both occasions, our discussions centred on economic and trade co-operation.

March 31, 2014