Speech by STL at 2023 Greater Bay Maritime Conference (English only)19 May 2023

Following is the video speech by the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung, at the 2023 Greater Bay Maritime Conference today (May 19):

Distinguished guests,

It gives me great pleasure to speak at the 2023 Greater Bay Maritime Conference, jointly hosted by the Guangzhou Port Authority, Huangpu District Government, Nansha District Government and the Hong Kong Shipowners Association.

This event today is a particularly meaningful occasion. Not only does it offer a precious opportunity to bring our maritime professionals together, it also marks another milestone of Hong Kong's close partnership with Guangzhou. Just now, the Transport and Logistics Bureau signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Guangzhou Port Authority on maritime development, exchange and promotion, scaling our collaboration to new heights.

Under the principle of "one country, two systems" and as enshrined in the Basic Law, Hong Kong practises the common law with which the international shipping community is familiar. In addition, Hong Kong is an international financial, trade and shipping centre, as well as the world's largest offshore Renminbi business centre. With the Central Government's support, Hong Kong acts as a super connector to proactively integrate and contribute to the "dual circulation" development strategy of our country, participates in the development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) and connects to the global community.

Today's Memorandom of Understanding with Guangzhou Port Authority is a concrete example of tapping the GBA synergy to enhance mutual competitiveness. By establishing a collaboration mechanism, sharing regulatory and management standards, enhancing promotion as well as manpower exchanges, Hong Kong is set to drive the development of a world-class port cluster with high-value added maritime services.

In recent years, Hong Kong has been actively seeking to strengthen and further develop our business environment, so as to boost our competitive edge amongst international maritime markets. With a series of tax measures implemented over the past years, more business establishments are finding Hong Kong more attractive. These measures included the introduction of tax exemption and concessions in 2020 to, No. 1, qualifying ship leasing activities by ship lessors and ship leasing managers, and No. 2, marine insurance businesses. To keep the momentum, we introduced last year half-rate profits tax concessions to qualifying shipping commercial principals, including ship agents, ship managers and ship brokers. All in all, these tax concessions aim to offer a welcoming business environment to these drivers of shipping activities, which are paramount to enhancing the competitiveness of Hong Kong's maritime industry.

Hong Kong's position as an international maritime centre is well recognised by international organisations. In 2019, the International Chamber of Shipping launched its China Liaison Office in Hong Kong. In 2020, The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) approved the BIMCO Law and Arbitration Clause 2020, such that Hong Kong is now the fourth named arbitration venue in the standard Dispute Resolution Clause of its maritime contract, alongside London, New York and Singapore. Again, thanks to "one country, two systems", Hong Kong has in recent years entered into several arbitration-related arrangements with Mainland China, including the supplemental arrangement to refine the mechanism of mutual recognition of arbitral awards, and an arrangement to allow parties to Hong Kong seated arbitrations to seek interim measures directly from Mainland courts. Hong Kong is the only jurisdiction to benefit from the interim measures arrangement.

We have recently set up a Task Force on Maritime and Port Development Strategy to formulate strategies to further promote the development of Hong Kong as an international maritime centre. The Task Force will put forward an action plan on key strategies within this year. In particular, we will work with representatives of the high‑end maritime services industry to explore measures to strengthen our edge in high value-added maritime services.

We count on a rich pool of practitioners for the long-term development of the maritime and port industry. That is why the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) Government and the maritime sector are committed to nurturing our talent pool and raising the professionalism of our personnel. On the part of the Government, we will on one hand launch a Maritime Services Traineeship Scheme this year for young people who aspire to a career in maritime law, and on the other hand inject HK$200 million into the Maritime and Aviation Training Fund to support manpower training for home-grown talents. Through these training schemes, we hope to build a vibrant, diversified and competitive pool of professionals and technical personnel to support the maritime industry's development, as well as the development of maritime sectors in the GBA.

With our talents, unique strengths and well-developed maritime cluster, I am more than confident that Hong Kong will continue to play an important role in the provision of high value-added professional services to the global maritime industry. With the synergy between the Government and the maritime sector, Hong Kong is well-positioned to contribute to the further development of the overall maritime capability of the GBA.

I must thank the Hong Kong Shipowners Association for their continued support and for organising this event. I look forward to the upcoming fruitful discussions and exchanges we will all hear today. Thank you very much.