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Hong Kong Review, March - June 2008

Bilateral - Hong Kong

Domestic - Hong Kong

Domestic - Macao

Business and other updates

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Bilateral - Hong Kong

Record Turnout on ANZAC Day 2008 in Hong Kong

ANZAC Day was marked in Hong Kong with a record turnout at the traditional dawn service in Hong Kong on 25 April this year, as more than 300 members of the local New Zealand and Australian communities gathered in remembrance of over 10,000 Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) soldiers who fought their first major battle at Gallipoli in Turkey, during World War I, and to reflect on lives lost in all past conflicts.

Consul-General Mr Julian Ludbrook, his Australian counterpart Mr Les Luck and representatives from a number of other organisations laid wreaths at the Cenotaph during the dawn ceremony.

The Australian and New Zealand communities also gathered for an official evening service at the ANZAC Memorial at the Australian International School in Hong Kong. Those attending included, as well as the Australian and New Zealand Consuls-General, the Consuls-General of Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Full Houses at 1st New Zealand Film Festival in Hong Kong


To meet local demand for unique cultural films from New Zealand, the Consulate-General, in association with Broadway Cinematheque, and with sponsorship from Air New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission, hosted the 2008 New Zealand Film Festival, the first in Hong Kong, from 13 to 22 June. An opening reception was held on 13 June and attended by Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Mr Frederick Ma.

The festival selection of seven films made by New Zealand’s home-grown creative talents provided local audiences with a uniquely Kiwi cinema-going experience. The lineup included five feature films: Eagle vs Shark, Perfect Strangers, Black Sheep, No 2, Rain, and two insightful documentaries: Made in Taiwan and Kaikohe Demolition. There was also a special complimentary screening of No 2 for local students and young people.

The festival was an instant success with almost all screenings selling out. The festival also drew wide attention from the local press, with coverage in over 15 publications and on local radio.

The official website of the festival: 2008 New Zealand Film Festival.

New Zealand Film Festival in Hong Kong

At the opening reception: (from left) Air NZ Manager (North Asia) Mr Albert Chan, Vice-Consul Ms Melissa Crawford, Air NZ Marketing Manager Mr Nick Hammond, Air NZ Regional General Manager (North Asia) Mr Charles Phelps-Penry and Consul-General Mr Julian Ludbrook

New Zealand Contemporary Art Exhibition in Hong Kong


New Zealand Contemporary Art Exhibition

Reception for “from the EDGE”

In March, the Consulate-General, with the support of Sino Group, Crown Worldwide, Delmaine Fine Foods and Accent Architects, organised “ from the EDGE: Contemporary Art from New Zealand”, an exhibition in Hong Kong featuring paintings, sculpture, installation art and photography .

The exhibition provided the local public with a unique opportunity to appreciate the works of six outstanding contemporary New Zealand artists – Gretchen Albrecht, Bill Culbert, Pip Culbert, Tony Lane, Fiona Pardington and James Ross – with a cross-section of current art practice and a wide range of artistic points-of-view. During the exhibition period two of the artists, Fiona Pardington and James Ross, gave talks about their works to the public and university students. An opening reception was also held on 19 March; guests attending included Chief Secretary Mr Henry Tang and Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Mrs Carrie Yau.

Exciting Debut Performances by Te Vaka in Hong Kong and Macao

Also in March, renowned New Zealand and Pacific musical group, Te Vaka, gave a number of exciting performances in Hong Kong, with the support of the New Zealand Government through the Ministry for Culture and Heritage's Cultural Diplomacy International Programme.

Te Vaka first performed in front of a live studio audience for Radio Television Hong Kong ’s Radio Four , as part of its Music Beyond Borders programme on New Zealand. Te Vaka also performed at Sheung Wan Civic Centre, as part of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s “ Family Fiesta Series”, at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and in Macao at The Macau Fisherman’s Wharf. Secretary for Home Affairs Mr Tsang Tak-sing attended the Sheung Wan concert.

Witi Ihimaera at the Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival


Witi Ihimaera

Mr Witi Ihimaera

Mr Witi Ihimaera, one of New Zealand's foremost Maori writers, participated in this year's Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival from 7 to 12 March.

Mr Ihimaera’s visit included a talk at the University of Hong Kong on his personal perspective on the contemporary Maori writing tradition, a reading before Hong Kong secondary school students and a talk at the Consul-General’s residence.

Born in Gisborne, Witi Ihimaera is a novelist, short story writer, anthologist and librettist. He is best known for The Whale Rider, which was made into an internationally-acclaimed feature film in 2002.

 

 

Contemporary Dance Choreographer Raewyn Hill in Hong Kong


Contemporary Dance

The athleticism and beauty of dance and rugby

Ms Raewyn Hill, one of New Zealand’s foremost contemporary dance choreographers, is currently in Hong Kong as Artist in Residence in the School of Dance at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Whilst resident in Hong Kong, Ms Hill and students from the Academy’s School of Dance developed a dance work and a series of photographs showing the links between the athleticism and beauty of dance and rugby. The dance was performed by the students in conjunction with a reception co-hosted by the Consulate-General and the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union. The photographs were exhibited at the Academy from 25 to 30 March, prior to this year's Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens.

 

Domestic - Hong Kong

Budget 2007/2008


Financial Secretary Mr John Tsang unveiled his maiden budget for 2008/09 (www.budget.gov.hk/2008/eng/speech.html) citing three principles - commitment to society, sustainability and pragmatism. The B udget focused on returning wealth to the community with innovative one-off payments and benefits for the elderly and the disadvantaged, and cuts and rebates for the middle class and well-off. To promote Hong Kong as a wine hub, the Government also agreed to exempt duties on wine, beer and all other alcoholic beverages except spirits.

For 2007/08, Mr Tsang forecast a surplus of HK$115.6 billion, which is 4.5 times last year's forecast and is equivalent to 7.2% of GDP. The budget pay-outs are expected to result in a HK$7.5 billion deficit in 2008-09 and will reduce the fiscal reserves from HK$484.9 billion to HK$477.4 billion, which will still be equal to 18 months' expenditure, or 27.7% of GDP.

Budget 2008/2009

Financial Secretary Mr John Tsang presents the 2008-09 Budget

Appointment of Under-Secretaries and Political Assistants


Mr Gregory So

Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Mr Gregory So

Chief Executive Mr Donald Tsang has announced the appointments of the first batch of eight under secretaries at the rank of bureau deputy directors and nine political assistants.

The new Under-Secretaries are: Mr Gregory So (Commerce and Economic Development); Mr Raymond Tam (Constitutional and Mainland Affairs); Mr Kenneth Chen (Education); Dr Kitty Poon (Environment); Ms Julia Leung (Financial Services and the Treasury); Prof Gabriel Matthew Leung (Food and Health): Ms Florence Hui (Home Affairs) and Mr Yau Shing-mu (Transport and Housing).

Biographies of the new appointees are available on the Hong Kong Government Information website:

Mr Tsang said that the appointments mark a key milestone in the development of Hong Kong’s accountability system.

Hong Kong Tipped to Dominate Regional Wine Trade

Hong Kong is tipped to become an international wine hub and profit from rapidly growing demand in China after the abolition of the 40% wine duty announced in the latest Budget, according to the Hong Kong Wine and Spirits Industry Coalition.

Hong Kong is expected to reap valued-added economic benefits amounting to HK$1 billion by 2012 and HK$3 billion by 2017, and its total business volume in trading, storage and auction of table wine may increase by HK$4 billion, a study by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council has found.

Strong Economic Growth: 7.1% in First Quarter of 2008


Hong Kong’s economy expanded by 7.1% yoy in the first quarter of 2008, exceeding expectations of a 6% growth by riding a surprisingly robust export sector, despite a slowdown in demand for US imports.

Total exports attained further notable growth of 8.3% yoy in the first quarter. Exports of services also stayed strong in the first quarter, growing rapidly further by 10.8% on the back of a continued surge in financial services, as well as notable growth in offshore trade and inbound tourism. Inflation picked up further, averaging at 4.6% in the first quarter. The unemployment rate remained stable at 3.4%.

The official GDP forecast of 4-5% for 2008 as announced in the Budget remains unchanged, and is tipped to be close to the upper end of the range forecast. The forecast rate of increase in the Composite CPI for 2008 is maintained at 4.5%. For the medium term, the economy's average growth rate is forecast to reach 4.5% a year in real terms for 2009-12, and the forecast inflation rate will average 4%.

Hong Kong GDP

Mandatory Nutrition Labelling Scheme for Pre-Packaged Food


Nutrition Labelling

All pre-packaged food sold in Hong Kong will soon bear nutritional labels

The Food and Health Bureau officially announced that a mandatory nutrition labelling scheme for pre-packaged food would be introduced in Hong Kong, which would require all pre-packaged food to label energy plus seven core nutrients - protein, carbohydrates, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugars - as well as any nutrient for which a claim is made.

The new food-labelling regulations will take effect from July 2010, after a two-year grace period, with a review of the regulations a year later. Draft technical guideline notes on the nutrition-labelling scheme will be finalised by July 2008.

Cross-sector Anti-competition Legislation Proposed


Anti-competition Legislation

It is proposed that Hong Kong should have an independent competition commission

The Hong Kong Commerce and Economic Development Bureau has published a new Consultation Paper, which includes significant details of the proposed Competition Ordinance, affirming the Government's commitment to introduce the Ordinance during the 2008/09 legislative session.

The paper proposes that an independent competition commission with investigative powers, and a separate tribunal, should be set up to implement the Ordinance. Other k ey proposals include:

"Three Links" Policy to Benefit Hong Kong in the Long Run

World Bank Chief Economist Mr Justin Lin forecast that the so-called "three links" policy of direct trade, transport and communication between the mainland and Taiwan would benefit Hong Kong in the long run, although Hong Kong would have to overcome the new challenge, as the policy looks certain to dampen already lacklustre demand for its logistics and transport services, although it would also lift demand for its financial and professional services.

He agreed with delaying the launch of the "through train", which would allow mainlanders to invest directly in Hong Kong, since a hasty launch would make the Hong Kong market vulnerable to speculation by foreign investors.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Mr Frederick Ma announced that the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) will open an office in Taiwan later this year, subject to Taipei's approval, but denied that there was a need for the Hong Kong Government to set up an office in Taiwan yet. The HKTDC currently has a consultant office in Taiwan.

Measures to Curb Avian Influenza

Secretary for Food and Health Dr York Chow announced that the Government had culled almost 3,000 poultry and ordered a 21-day ban on the supply of live poultry from mainland China and from local farms in response to the discovery of the H5N1 avian flu virus in 3 local wet markets.

T ests have ruled out a mutation of the virus. Unable to trace the source of the H5N1 strain, the authorities are investigating whether chicken traders have failed to report cases of birds falling ill.

Dr Chow said that the threat of avian flu in Hong Kong is very serious. Officials will hold talks with the trade about introducing a ban on keeping live chickens at their stalls overnight to minimise the risk of infections. Authorities in Macao and Shenzhen have already imposed regulations against keeping live poultry overnight.

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Domestic - Macao

GDP Growth Forecast to Reach 13% in 2008

Macao ’s economic growth is forecast to reach 13% in 2008, compared with 27% in 2007, according to a Bank of China report cited by news agency New China. The report says that the slowdown in world economic growth will "certainly" have an impact in Macao, but with the dynamic development of its tourism and entertainment industries and increased investment in fixed assets, Macao’s economy will maintain two-digit growth.

The six casino operators not only contributed 29.3 billion patacas in direct gaming taxes, but also invested large amounts of capital in fixed assets, which in 2007 accounted for around 30% of Macao’s GDP.

GDP rose by 27.3% to reach US$19.2 billion in 2007, against 6.3% and 11.4% growth recorded respectively by neighbouring Hong Kong and mainland China for the same period. Its GDP per capita in 2007 stood at US$36,357, up 27% yoy, which was the highest in Asia, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The rise in per-capita GDP was underpinned by a 45% boost in casino gambling revenue in 2007, up to nearly US$11 billion. Morgan Stanley forecast that its casino sales will rise between 20 and 25% in each of the next three years.

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Business and other updates

Hong Kong

The Legislative Council has passed the Energy Efficiency (Labelling of Products) Bill (See below)

making it mandatory for appliances to carry energy efficiency labels after a grace period of 18 months. The first phase of the scheme will cover air conditioners, compact fluorescent light bulbs and fridges. The scheme might be extended to other appliances such as washing machines, dehumidifiers and water heaters.

Former Democratic Party Chairman Mr Martin Lee, 69, declared that he has decided to step down as a legislator at the end of his current term in July, citing his age and a desire to make way for new leaders. He will remain a member of the Democratic Party. He has also predicted that t he Civic Party could soon emerge as the leader of the pan-democratic camp.

Hong Kong has retained its top spot for the third consecutive year in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' annual report on the competitiveness of Chinese cities, whereas Macao fell out of the top 10 this year . The report assessed 200 cities using indicators ranging from human resources to the standard of public services, which is widely regarded as a guide to the performance of local governments.

In a radio interview, Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Mr Joseph Yam rejected ideas of using monetary means, or changing the HK currency linked exchange rate to the USD, to ease inflation, stressing that Hong Kong needs a stable monetary rate system. Noting that the linked rate system should be assessed in a way which takes a number of economic cycles into account, Mr Yam said that the USD link has brought more benefits than disadvantages.

Hong Kong journalist Mr Ching Cheong, who was detained on the mainland for almost three years, returned to work at the Hong Kong office of Singapore's The Straits Times upon release from prison. He plans to stay in Hong Kong to write commentaries on China affairs.

Legislator and former Chief Secretary Mrs Anson Chan has launched a cross-party discussion forum called The Citizens' Commission on Constitutional Development to expand debate on constitutional reform. Mrs Chan will be Convenor of the group, which includes a number of Civic Party members.

Executive Council Convenor Mr Leung Chung-ying suggested that an area of 20 sq km in the border zone with Shenzhen could be developed for exhibition and convention businesses, schools, medical services and high-end technology industries as a part of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen metropolis plan proposed by the Bauhinia Foundation last year, and another border checkpoint could be created at the southern end of the zone, where mainland residents could enjoy services of the standard enjoyed in Hong Kong. He also suggested giving mainland residents visa-free access to the proposed border development zone.

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Macao

The release of three Government consultation documents on the proposed changes to Macao’s political system confirmed that neither universal suffrage nor an increase in the number of the directly elected seats in the Legislative Council would be attained for the two elections in 2009. The revised proposals focus on new measures to optimise the voter registration procedures and combat corrupt practices.

The Governments of Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao have agreed on a financing scheme for the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge linking the three places:

The bridge will be built according to the six-lane expressway standard with a vehicle speed of 100km per hour. It is expected that the project will soon proceed to public tenders.

The Government announced that it would give every permanent resident MOP5,000, and non-permanent resident MOP3,000, in July to relieve the pressure of high inflation which has reached a 17-year high.

Macao will suspend the granting of gambling licenses and limit the expansion of existing casinos, in a move to address rising problems brought by the overheated gaming-led economy, which has expanded by 50% annually since it opened up to foreign investors in 2002. No land will be allocated for building new casinos, and existing casinos will not be allowed to add slot machines or gaming tables until a review is completed. The gaming sector now contributes 80% of the city's income.

The Macao Avian Flu Co-ordinating Group's technical team said that Macao is at a "relatively low risk" for an avian flu outbreak and there is no need to stop importing live poultry and birds from the mainland.

Period NZ Total Exports to HK (FOB NZ$m) % of market share yoy change
June 2007- May 2008

618

1.58
+6.3%
April 2008
55
+18.2%
May 2008
63

+22.3%

Table A: New Zealand Exports to Hong Kong, June 2007- May 2008
(Source: Statistics New Zealand)

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Indicator
Figure
Period
Change
1. Gross Domestic Product US$201 bn FY2007 +6.3% yoy
2. Economic growth +7.1% 1 st Q 2008, preliminary  
3. Economic growth forecast +4 to 5% FY2008, forecast  
4. Population 6.963 m end-2007 +0.8% yoy
5. Fiscal surplus HK$115.6 m 2007/08, forecast  
6. Foreign currency reserves US$159 bn May 2008 +16.7% yoy
7. Monetary base HK$325.2 bn May 2008 +10.3% yoy
8. Hang Seng Index 22 102 30 June 2008 +1.5%
9. Inflation rate +5.7% yoy May 2008  
10. Prime interest rate 3.5% June 2008  
11a. Property transactions: sales value HK$26.3 bn December 2007 -31% yoy
11b. Property transactions: no of transactions 8 281 December 2007 -25.5% yoy
12. Retail sales value HK$22.8 bn November 2007 +18.7% yoy
13. Unemployment rate

3.3%

March-May 2008, (provisional)  
14a. Total exports HK$238.9 bn May 2008 +10.3% yoy
14b. Total imports HK$266.4 bn May 2008 +15.4% yoy
14c. Total re-exports HK$230.8 bn May 2008 +11.3% yoy
15. Visitor arrivals 2.342 m May 2008 +6.3% yoy

Table B: Latest Hong Kong Economic Indicators
(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 11, 12, 13. Hong Kong Census & Statistics Department 5,6,7. Hong Kong Monetary Authority 9. HSBC 10. Hong Kong Land Registry 14. Hong Kong Tourism Board)

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Useful Contacts

Hong Kong-New Zealand Business Association Inc
Postal Address: P O Box 105-009, Central Auckland, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (9) 443 3337
Fax: +64 (9) 443 3331
Email: hknzba@clear.net.nz
Website: Hong Kong-New Zealand Business Association Inc

New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong
New Zealand Focus
2/F, Island Building
439-445 Hennessy Road
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Tel: +(852) 2536 4469
Fax: +(852) 2810 9068
Contact: The Executive Officer
Email: exec@nzcchk.com
Website: New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong

New Zealand Society of Hong Kong
GPO Box 8817, Hong Kong
Tel: +(852) 6114 5583
Contact: The Membership Officer
Email: members@nzshk.org
Website: New Zealand Society of Hong Kong

Currency Exchange Rates

HK$7.804=US$1.00 (approx)

HK$5.94=NZ$1.00 (approx)


Note: The print version of “Hong Kong Review” is available from:

New Zealand Consulate-General
6501 Central Plaza
18 Harbour Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: +(852) 2525 5044
Fax: +(852) 2845 2915
Email:hlhkg@biznetvigator.com top of page

Page last updated: Monday, 13 June 2011 12:35 NZST