(Original script, may differ from delivered version)
Secretary for Administration and Justice of the Macao SAR Government Florinda Chan, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this year’s Queen’s Birthday Party – indeed Her Majesty’s 88th – here in Macao.
I would like to thank our many kind sponsors whose names are displayed around the Museum and in the programme cards. And of course the excellent British food and drink that is being served today. Ladies and gentlemen, may I invite you to raise your glasses in the first toast of the evening to Her Majesty [“The Queen”].
Since we gathered in May 2013 to celebrate Her Majesty’s Birthday, the UK-Macao relationship has been rollicking along brilliantly to quite a rhythm – just like the Rolling Stones did on their recent visit.
Highlights include the visit last June by the Head of UKTI to the Macao Infrastructure Conference, and a few weeks ago the UK Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond, visited this year’s Conference. In spring two UKTI trade delegations visited Macao, a total of nearly 50 companies from Creative, Luxury, Retail and F&B sectors. Personally I’ve been delighted to pay several visits to Macao, as well as consuming many of Lord Stow’s extraordinary egg tarts I made it to Hengqin and the new University campus.
Other prominent British Visitors to Macao include David Beckham, Zaha Hadid and others on the sporting and entertainment front, emphasising that Macao is increasingly a creative hub that people want to visit and do business with. And there has been an increase in the overall number of British Nationals visiting Macao, to 61,000 in 2013. The most from any single EU country.
There have been visits from Macao to the UK as well, sponsored by IPIM.
The Consulate has stepped up overall level of engagement on the Business front. Another area of progress had been the lifting of restrictions on UK beef and lamb imports so that visitors to and residents of Macao have more choice. And you are getting to taste some of those excellent products today. Please don’t miss the British sausages and pork pies, washed down with some cider, beer or one of the fantastic wines here this evening. Yes wine from Britain: try them, they are excellent.
We are not just seeing a flow of visitors between HK and Macao but also one of goods, services, capital and ideas. The Macao economy continues to enjoy strong growth. As for the UK, the Chancellor confirmed in his March Budget that the recovery is gathering pace. Growth forecasts for 2013 were revised upwards to 2.7 per cent, and we expect the UK Budget to be in surplus by 2018-19. Bilateral trade was around $250million dollars in 2013 whilst exports of goods from UK to Macao grew by 28% year on year.
As Macao moves to a new stage of regional co-operation development, UK companies’ interest grows. British business continues to have a major involvement in Macao’s development whether the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macao Bridge or in the ever-developing integrated resorts. As well as across education, retail and food & drink. And there is potential in hospitality, convention and exhibition, as well as other commercial and service businesses.
I am delighted that Marks & Spencer (M&S), has today announced plans to enter Macau for the first time, when it opens its new store on the Cotai Strip Resorts Macao later this summer.
The automotive sector also continues to be a key manufacturing sector for the UK with this year on track for decade high output. And thanks to Jaguar Land Rover for the beautiful Range Rover Evoque on display. And a study has just declared the UK the cheapest place to manufacture in Western Europe.
2013 was another strong year for investment, building on the UK’s status as the No.1 destination to invest in Europe and set up European Headquarters. The Budget ensured that the UK remains a great place to do business, by making further progress towards reducing Corporation Tax to 20% in 2015, the lowest in the G20 and joint lowest in the G7. There were other business and investor friendly measures: support for business investment, reductions in energy costs for business and renewed commitments to prioritise infrastructure investment worth more than £330bn by 2020.
In addition to being a GREAT place to do business, the UK continues to be GREAT in many other ways. In the past year the campaign has celebrated British sporting prowess through the visits to Hong Kong of the British and Irish Lions rugby team, and several English Premier League football teams. And we had strong British presence at the Macao 60th Grand Prix in November.
We will be continuing our work on GREAT with the GREAT Festival of Creativity towards the end of this year. The UK is a world leader in creativity and this will showcase the very best of it – from fashion and luxury to cutting edge technology to innovation in business and we are developing the programme for Macao too.
I’d like to mention the British Council – which you will know through its English teaching, the arts and education. The British Council is looking to develop new relationships and business in Macao. And perhaps this is a good time to mention another anniversary – 450 years since the birth of William Shakespeare whose work is acted and read in so many foreign countries in their respective languages and one our most successful creative industry exports ever.
Having so much to tell you today can only mean one thing: that the team at the British Consulate-General are highly talented and hard working. I would like to pay a tribute to them, staff of all nationalities, from Hong Kong, the UK and other countries ranging from Australia to India, Romania and Thailand, for keeping a magnificent show on the road. Including those providing consular, corporate and other services. A huge thank you also to Glenn McCartney who has provided tremendous support for us on the ground as our Honorary Consul for 10 years in Macao. And a deep appreciation for the support of our partners in the excellent British Business Association of Macao. This is a real team effort.
And thanks of course to our Macao partners and friends here. We are grateful to you all for your support and look forward to more joint work.
I ask you to join me in a toast, ‘to the people of the People’s Republic of China and of the Macao Special Administrative Region’. May I now invite the Secretary for Administration and Justice of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government to address you.