Supporting the Development of Professional Services
75. The service sector accounts for over 80% of our Gross Domestic
Product and professional services are a value-added component. At
present, no sector can escape the challenges brought by economic
restructuring. And we are doing what we can to promote the development
of professional services not only in Hong Kong, but to open up markets
in other places.
76. For example, the Government has assisted the legal profession
in arranging visits to Beijing for local professional bodies in
a bid to extend the market for their services. The Secretary for
Justice has also proposed developing litigation and arbitration
business in Hong Kong to enable Mainland enterprises to negotiate
and sign contracts with foreign enterprises here. If necessary,
they could approach our courts and arbitration bodies to settle
contractual disputes. Not only will Mainland and foreign investors
benefit, but new opportunities will be opened up for our legal profession.
This will enhance Hong Kong's role as an international financial
and services centre. After much discussion, the proposal has received
a positive initial response from the relevant Central Government
77. Locally, the Architectural Services Department and the Housing
Department will minimise the use of standard design to enable greater
participation of architects from the private sector and to encourage
creativity. Departments concerned will also review the current tendering
and approval procedures for Government projects and services. The
aim is to create more opportunities for local professionals and
to retain the relevant expertise and experience in Hong Kong, while
upholding the principles of equality and fairness, and adhering
to the rules of the WTO and safeguarding public interests.
78. To support the comprehensive development of professional services,
I have asked the Business and Services Promotion Unit under the
Commerce and Industry Bureau to co-ordinate the efforts of relevant
departments so that they can offer active support in this regard.
We will also set aside $100 million to establish a fund to support,
on an equal matching basis, useful projects that can enhance the
standard of professional services in Hong Kong. We will continue
with an in-depth study on the demand for continuous learning in
Hong Kong's professional sector and their needs in respect of their
various practices. We will join hands with the professions in promoting
their services to open up new markets in the Mainland and overseas.