Speech by CE at 2023 Greater Bay Maritime Conference (English only) (with video)19 May 2023

Following is the video speech by the Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, at the 2023 Greater Bay Maritime Conference today (May 19):

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to join you virtually at the 2023 Greater Bay Maritime Conference. Today's conference provides a perfect platform for sharing insights on the development of the maritime sector. I am especially pleased that the event will feature the signing of agreements between the port authorities, as well as maritime associations, of Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

Under the unique "one country, two systems" principle, Hong Kong is bestowed with the strong support of national strategies while maintaining unparalleled connectivity with the world.

The National 14th Five-Year Plan supports Hong Kong's position as an international shipping centre, as well as the development of high value-added maritime services in Hong Kong. The report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China supports Hong Kong's consolidation and elevation of its international position in trade, shipping, aviation and other fields.

The development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) is a key national strategy in the country's reform and opening up in the new era. The cluster-city development draws together a population of over 86 million and a combined GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of over US$1.9 trillion. Hong Kong is well positioned to capitalise on its prowess as an international shipping centre and logistics hub to fuel the GBA's development, and in turn better integrate into the country's development course.

Hong Kong boasts a sound legal system, advanced infrastructure and a wealth of outstanding talent from all over the world. Located at the heart of Asia, Hong Kong is the top destination for multinational corporations to set up their operations in Asia. We are a longstanding supporter and practitioner of free markets and multilateralism.

Hong Kong has a vibrant maritime cluster with over 1 100 port and maritime-related companies providing a broad range of maritime services, from port services, ship finance and marine insurance, to maritime legal and arbitration services, ship management and shipbroking. Our targeted tax concessions for the ship leasing, marine insurance and shipping commercial principals sectors provide strong incentives for maritime enterprises to establish presence in Hong Kong.

Around 2 400 ships are registered under the Hong Kong Shipping Register, aggregating nearly 127 million gross tonnage. It is now the fourth largest register in the world in terms of gross tonnage. We ensure ships flying the Hong Kong flag can receive all the support they need, with our extensive service network in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and North America.

We have been working with the trade to drive the Smart Port initiative. We are setting up a port community system to facilitate the flow and sharing of data among operators and other stakeholders. It encourages paperless operation and real-time information sharing, thereby enhancing port efficiency.

As an Associate Member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Hong Kong is committed to striving towards carbon neutrality and ensuring compliance of local legislation with the latest requirements of the IMO on environmental protection, with a view to promoting the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions and the sustainability of international shipping.

To further promote the development of Hong Kong as an international maritime centre, the Task Force on Maritime and Port Development Strategy is working to put forward an action plan within this year, particularly in strengthening our competitive edge in high value-added maritime services.

Ladies and gentlemen, in a moment, the Guangzhou Port Authority of the Guangzhou Municipal Government, and the Transport and Logistics Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR Government will sign a strategic co-operation agreement. The agreement will lay a solid foundation to enhance our co-operation and professional exchanges on various fronts, from manpower training to high value-added maritime services.

Alongside other co-operative agreements to be signed today, such as the one between the Hong Kong Shipowners Association and Guangzhou Navigation College, we will promote the exchange of expertise, co-operate in publicity and capacity building, and enhance the professional standards in maritime industry among key maritime players in the GBA.

I am confident that the maritime community will be able to sail together through the new era with common goals and shared prosperity. Before I close, may I express my thanks to the organisers for holding this timely and topical gathering. I am sure that you will enjoy this Greater Bay Maritime Conference. Thank you.

Video: Speech by CE at 2023 Greater Bay Maritime Conference