Closing Remarks by USTH at Maritime Dispute Resolution in Hong Kong: Current and Future2 November 2021

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It is my honour to present the closing remarks for the 2021 Legal Forum on Maritime Dispute Resolution in Hong Kong. Having listened to the two panel discussions by our esteemed speakers, I am reminded of the wealth of legal services that Hong Kong can contribute to the international shipping community, thanks to our robust institutions, proximity to the Mainland, and of course, the staunch support from our legal professionals.

Despite the challenges brought by COVID-19 to the international shipping industry, the Government has been working closely with the maritime and legal sectors to facilitate the development of high value-added maritime services in Hong Kong. On maritime arbitration front, recent breakthroughs include the Arrangement on Interim Measures in Aid of Arbitral Proceedings signed between the HKSAR and the Supreme People’s Court in 2019, which enabled Hong Kong to become the first and the only jurisdiction outside the Mainland to implement such an arrangement; and the Baltic and International Maritime Council’s (“BIMCO”) inclusion of Hong Kong as its fourth named arbitration venue in September 2020. Just yesterday, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association signed a Memorandom of Understanding with several prominent maritime arbitration organisations on promoting arbitration services and collaboration in the Greater Bay Area.

With many institutional strengths including a comprehensive legislative framework, the adoption of common law system, ample choices of arbitral institutions, as well as having the benefit of China being a contracting state to the New York Convention, Hong Kong is a prime multilingual centre in Asia for dispute resolution. The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) is ranked by the 2021 International Arbitration Survey since 2013, attracting parties who look for world-class arbitration facilities to select Hong Kong as a seat of arbitration.

With enhanced integration between Hong Kong and other cities under the Guangdong Hong Kong Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) Outline Development Plan, Hong Kong’s strength as an international maritime centre can be leveraged to drive the development of a world-class port cluster, through a rational and coordinated division of labour. The National 14th Five-Year Plan also supports the development of high value-added maritime services in Hong Kong. With robust strengths in professional services, Hong Kong is well-positioned to further grow and promote our high-end maritime services such as ship leasing, marine insurance and maritime dispute resolution. Providing such services to Mainland and Macao enterprises will also help raise the overall maritime capability of the GBA.

The Government attaches great importance to the maritime sector and strives to promote the development of dispute resolution services. On behalf of the Transport and Housing Bureau, I wish to give my heartfelt thanks to our fellow partners and organisers for making this informative Forum happen. We hope that through implementation of different policy initiatives and continued collaboration with the industry, Hong Kong can better grasp the opportunities presented by the GBA and drive its maritime development. Thank you.