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Enhancing co-operation and exchanges between Hong Kong and Korea on various fronts

Today is the first day of my official visit to the Republic of Korea. Highlights of today's itinerary include calling on the President of the Republic of Korea, Ms Park Geun-hye, in the morning, meeting the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Yun Byung-se, in the afternoon, and attending a dinner hosted by Mr Yun in the evening. These activities underline the importance that Korea attaches to its relations with China and its economic and trade partnership with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong obviously benefits from the enhanced international status of our country. Through this visit, I hope that Hong Kong can expand the scale and scope of economic and trade co-operation and cultural exchanges with Korea, giving full play to our unique role as the super-connector between China and the rest of the world.

At the meeting with President Park, I mentioned the conclusion of negotiations over a free trade agreement between China and Korea. I told her that, given that and Hong Kong's strength in trade in goods and services, I looked forward to more opportunities for further expanding bilateral trade between Hong Kong and Korea and exploring together new areas of co-operation that could bring mutual benefits to the two places. I also told her that our young people admire Korean artistes very much, and I hoped that Korea could arrange for its artistes to visit and perform in Hong Kong during major holidays as a way of promoting exchanges in culture and performing arts between the two places.

I also had a meeting with the Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Mr Choi Yang-hee, to explore ways of fostering co-operation between Hong Kong and Korea in information and communications technology as well as innovation and technology.

Today's activities focused on three things. First, the creation of opportunities for enhancing exchanges between young people of the two places. Second, the interest shown by Korea in the development of our financial and legal services to the current scale and standard. Third, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in the Creative Industries between Hong Kong and Korea to facilitate exchanges and co-operation between the two places in various creative sectors, including advertising, architecture, design, digital entertainment, film, music, television, and printing and publishing.

Hong Kong and Korea are closely linked. Statistics show that there were 700 Korean students studying in local institutions funded by the University Grants Committee in the 2013/14 academic year, representing a 250 per cent increase over the 200 in the 2010/11 academic year. Korea is the sixth largest trade partner of Hong Kong and our fourth largest source of tourists. This year, the number of Korean tourists visiting Hong Kong has increased by 20 per cent over last year's figure, while the number of Hong Kong tourists visiting Korea has increased by 50 per cent during the same period.

In recent years, the innovation and high-tech industries in Korea have been growing rapidly, making the Korean economy more balanced in structure and full of vitality. Korean innovative and technological products have also captivated the world. All these achievements are to a large extent attributable to the promotion efforts of dedicated departments established by the Korean government. In this regard, we can learn a lot from the Korean experience. On October 29 this year, the Legislative Council (LegCo) passed the motion on the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau. Once funds are approved by the LegCo Finance Committee, the bureau will commence operation to promote Hong Kong's innovation and technology industries. The sectors involved very much hope that LegCo Members will lend their support and complete their deliberation of the funding proposal as soon as possible.


November 26, 2014