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Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s first official visit to France: Greater Bay Area and technology on the agenda

Chief Executive of the HKSAR Government, Mrs Carrie Lam, has encouraged French businesses to take advantage of Hong Kong’s position in the Greater Bay Area and further enhanced ties between our city and France in her inaugural six-day official visit.

Prior to touching down in France, Mrs Lam paid a short visit to Brussels on 14 June where she recognised the longstanding cooperation between the European Union and Hong Kong. Welcoming Mrs Lam to the business luncheon, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström explained Hong Kong’s continuing value as a trade partner. “We consider Hong Kong as part of our circle of friends,” she said, citing a total of 48 billion EUR in the trade of goods between the two regions which makes the European Union Hong Kong’s second largest trading partner after mainland China.

Celebrating Hong Kong and France’s wine connection

Next stop: Bordeaux. Accompanied by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, the Chief Executive signed an agreement with the Cité du Vin, renewing the fruitful 10-year cooperation between the two cities on the organisation of the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival. She expressed her hope that this relationship will continue to strengthen and that French business in the wine industry will continue their active participation in Vinexpo Hong Kong, the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair and the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival itself.

Aviation was next on the programme with a whirlwind visit to Marseille on 17 June, where Mrs Carrie Lam was welcomed at the headquarters of Airbus Helicopters, accepting six of the French helicopters on behalf of the Government Flying Service to be used for rescue missions.

Opportunities for French businesses in the Greater Bay Area

The official visit culminated in a three-day rendez-vous in Paris starting on 19 June with the Greater Bay Area and innovation & technology high on the agenda.

The French Chamber in Hong Kong was a supporting organiser of a morning conference organised by Invest Hong Kong on the Greater Bay Area which marked the first joint effort of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao in promoting the region overseas.

Alongside Mrs Lam was Mr Ouyang Weimin, Vice Governor of Guangdong Province, and Mr Jackson Chang, President of the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute of the Macao Special Administrative Region, to highlight the unique business opportunities offered by the region.

Speaking in front of hundreds of high level French business leaders, Mrs Lam spoke about the Chinese Central Government’s continued emphasis on developing the Greater Bay Area. In particular, she acknowledged Hong Kong’s strong research and development capacity with its proximity to Shenzhen’s manufacturing prowess as key to the Greater Bay Area’s ambitions to become an innovation and technology hub.

Representatives from Schneider Electric and SUEZ among others also spoke about their first-hand experience of the advantages offered by the region as an ideal base for French companies.

The afternoon saw a closer focus on the Belt and Road initiative with a conference organised by the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, Business France and the China Federation of Industrial Economics and supported by the French Chamber in Hong Kong. She began her talk with a nod to the French Chamber in Hong Kong – “For seven years in a row, I've accepted the invitation of the French Chamber of Commerce to attend the annual gala dinner, and we just had a very enjoyable one two weeks ago,” – before encouraging French business to make the most of Hong Kong’s unique advantages in the context of the Belt and Road initiative.

Focusing on Innovation and Technology

A visit the following day to Station F, the world’s largest startup incubator, was a key indicator of Hong Kong’s push towards further investment in innovation and technology.

Attracting more research and development companies to Hong Kong is a priority for the government especially in light of the planned Lok Ma Chau Loop (an innovation and technology park on the border with Shenzhen). This point was further advanced during the previous day’s visit to the Paris-Sorbonne University where Mrs Lam indicated that she would like to promote further collaboration between universities in France and Hong Kong to drive the development of innovation and technology in the city.

It appears the already strong links between France and Hong Kong are set to be enhanced. But we’ll leave you with Mrs Lam’s own impressions that she revealed during her speech at the afternoon conference in Paris on 20 June. “Having spent five days in France, I can fully appreciate this slogan – ‘The great nation of France is back’. Congratulations.”

20 June morning talk – Read Mrs Carrie Lam’s full speech at the joint promotion seminar on Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development in Paris.

20 June afternoon talk – Read Mrs Carrie Lam’s full speech at the France-Hong Kong and Mainland China Economic Forum.

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