The Policy Address 2000

III. Opportunities Abound

A. Robust Growth Continues

32. Since the beginning of this year, the pace of our recovery from the Asian financial turmoil has quickened significantly. Our Gross Domestic Product attained robust double-digit growth in the first half of the year. Exports of goods and services have increased markedly. Investment has rebounded while consumer spending has further picked up. The number of incoming visitors has increased considerably. Our economic base is firmer now than it was before the financial crisis. Our operating costs have come down. Earlier efforts made by local enterprises to rationalise their corporate structures and the increased use of information technology have enhanced cost-effectiveness. Looking around, there is no doubt that our recent economic performance has stood out from other Asian economies.

33. Externally, our major economic partners are expecting continued growth. The accelerated economic growth of the Mainland is especially favourable to us. The Mainland's growth reached 8.2% in the first half of the year and the profits of its industry and enterprises rose briskly, indicating a significant turn for the better. The output of many of China's agricultural and industrial products are now the highest in the world. By the end of this year, China's Gross Domestic Product will exceed US$1,000 billion and its Second Strategic Goal of Modernisation will be fully achieved. The Third Strategic Plan will be launched next year. The goal for the first decade of the century is to double this year's Gross National Product. Hong Kong has benefited tremendously from the Mainland's economic growth over the past two decades. It is therefore not hard to see the strong economic impetus we will derive from our country's sustained aggregate economic growth in the coming decade.

34. In the light of the favourable internal and external conditions, the Financial Secretary has earlier revised upward his forecast of Hong Kong's economic growth in real terms for the year 2000 to 8.5%. This rate, the highest for more than a decade, has already taken into account the impact of fluctuating oil prices.

35. Apart from the fact that our economy is showing signs of substantial recovery, there is another important reason for our confidence in Hong Kong's economic prospects. I am referring to the unprecedented opportunities for development that lie before us.

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