(Translation of an Article by Gregory So, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of August 2015)
In my visit earlier this year to Burgundy, France to promote Hong Kong, I gave a speech at a luncheon at the renowned Chateau du Clos de Vougeot and visited the world-class Domaine de Romanee Conti (DRC). I was shown around in the DRC by its co-owner Mr Aubert de Villaine, and had a sip of La Tache fermented last year. The hospitality well reflects the importance attached to Hong Kong by Burgundy.
Following years of hard work of the wine industry as supported by the Government, it is delightful to see rapid growth in Hong Kong’s wine re-export business. In 2014, our wine re-exports (HK$2,430 million) surged 34.1% year-on-year. The growth is even stronger this year. In the first half of 2015, our wine re-exports (HK$2,010 million) leapt by three quarters year-on-year. This is very encouraging.
We have been promoting Hong Kong’s wine industry in Burgundy. In 2010, the two governments signed an agreement to strengthen co-operation in wine-related businesses. In 2012, the Government organised the Hong Kong Week in Burgundy’s capital Dijon to introduce to foreign businessmen how Hong Kong would serve as the springboard for Mainland China and beyond. In the following year, Burgundy relocated its representative office in Asia from Singapore to Hong Kong. Today, Hong Kong has established itself as Burgundy’s important trading partner. With a population of only seven million, Hong Kong stood with Burgundy’s other wine export markets and ranked eighth in 2013-14 (with wine exports to Hong Kong amounted to HK$280 million).
Another highlight of my itinerary in Burgundy was a reception hosted by the Regional Council of Burgundy for me and leaders of the local business community. As President Mr Francois Patriat of the Council put it on the occasion, Hong Kong was a mature wine market with immense potential, the priority gateway to Mainland China and an ideal place in Asia to showcase Burgundy produce. Burgundy’s fine wines often attract the best connoisseurs and collectors in Hong Kong, the world’s largest wine auction centre.
Other than Burgundy, the Government spares no effort in promoting the duty-free advantage of Hong Kong’s wine businesses around the world. The outposts of the Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council have been working hard on the Mainland and overseas and spreading the words to the local wine industries and media. Our Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales (Organisation Support Programme) supports initiatives in a number of Mainland wine exhibitions this year. The Hong Kong booths are well-received.
Later this week, I will be visiting Adelaide, Australia with key persons of our wine industry. We will go to the Barossa Valley, a favourite of the New World. We will share with the industry leaders there on how they can make use of Hong Kong’s role as the regional wine hub in seizing the opportunities that will be brought by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement signed this June. That contributes to Hong Kong’s economic development.