Speech by Mr Thomas Wong at 2017 Portuguese Speaking Countries Products and Services Exhibition in Macao
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, good morning and welcome to this morning’s seminar on “Connecting the World – China & Portuguese Speaking Countries”. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Bernando of Federação Sino PLPE and the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute for inviting me and my accounting firm, CW CPA, to be a part of this event. I am extremely honoured to share some insights with such eminent audience and expert speakers today. In just a moment, they will enlighten us on how we can build stronger linkages and further grow trade and investment through the Greater Bay Area and its benefits to the Portuguese Speaking Countries. Special thanks to some of my friends who are here today, including Bernando Mendia; a congratulation note to the Ambassador Vitor Sereno for his recent promotion (4th of August 2017 elevated to the position of Ambassador) and high success throughout his diplomatic career, particularly here in Macao SAR. And welcome to the Secretay of State for the Internationalization of Portugal, Mr. Eurico Brilhante Dias.
As many of you know, the global economy’s eastward shift continues, led by the sustained growth of the Mainland of China. As the world’s second-largest economy, the Mainland has contributed more than 30 per cent of global economic growth in the past few years. The Mainland’s far-reaching Belt and Road Initiative is now gathering momentum among more than 60 jurisdictions across three continents, all of which are keen to develop and deepen their connectivity – in infrastructure, trade, commerce, capital, culture and more.
The Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (RAEM) has a strategic position in the Chinese and International economy. Globally recognized as the gaming mecca, it maintains a growing trend in what concerns foreign direct investment (FDI), especially in its traditional sectors, gambling and hotel industry, as well as an emerging and growing bet in the banking and financial sector (Macao received about 1.14 billion and 3.03 billion US dollars in FDI flows in 2015 and 2016 respectively).
After a slight recession in the last two years, overt declining Macau´s gaming revenue, visible renewed economic growth was shown by Macao on the second half of 2016, thus suppressing rumours of its decline. In fact, Macao’s GDP for 2016 was USD 44.7 billion higher than that of Zhuhai, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing. More revealingly, Macao reached the highest per capita GDP of all the cities that integrate the Greater Bay Area Initiative, registering a considerable difference compared to the second place in the table, Hong Kong, and it is expected that Macao will grow an average of 5.2% in 2017 and 5.3% in 2018.
As China’s only Portuguese speaking city, Macao is the natural connector for the Belt and Road with the Portuguese speaking countries, such as Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and East Timor. And at a Central Government level the awareness of its position is clear. To support my words I can give you the example of two local strategic development and cooperation programs: (i) the Initiative “One Center, One Platform” through which Macao is to become a universal tourism and leisure center, as well as serve as a bridge to trade and services between mainland China and the Portuguese-speaking countries; and (ii) the “One Strip One Route” Initiative, which aim is to strengthen the communication and economic cooperation relations with more than 65 countries, among the Asian, African and European continents.
In this context, I should point out the growth potential of the number of tourists from mainland China in Macao in 2016, which reached 122 million, a figure which is expected to double by 2025. In addition, the presence of major infrastructure projects such as the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macau Bridge, whose investment already represents more than US $ 10 billion, is expected to attract about 40 million visitors to Macao by the year 2025.
And the efforts made aiming the attraction of investors and tourists seem to have borne fruit worthy of registration, culminating in last year’s opening of two mega resorts, Wynn Palace and The Parisian Macau, and soon (less than two years from now) of The 13, MGM Cotai, Lisboa Palace and of Morpheus.
In the area of special cooperation between the Macao and the Lusophone countries, the contribution of forums like the one we are having today are to be noted. Promoting the deepening and understanding by the Portuguese-speaking countries of Macao SAR advantages as a link with the interior of China contributes to a progression in economic cooperation.
And some results are already visible! The latest data show an increase in trading between Macao SAR and the Portuguese speaking countries of 43.3%, compared to the same period of last year.
Many other programs in areas such as justice, culture, education, turn obvious the strategic position of Macao in the Belt and Road Initiative as a connector with the Portuguese speaking countries.
Opportunities like these rarely come along, so at today’s event we are presenting our proposals to each of you on how we can best capitalize on this golden opportunity. We believe our trade relations with the Portuguese speaking countries will flourish further.
Ladies and gentlemen, hopefully the business cards that you exchange this morning will be the seeds that grow into a promising business deal, investment, or simple cooperation. At the very least, I am sure we will all learn something interesting from today’s seminar.
As we have a packed agenda this morning, allow me to hand the floor over to Bernando.