Honourable Leaders, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Macao and Zhuhai have long been tied up in trade and commerce. Since the Handover of Macao in December 1999, the connections have been further strengthened through the co-organization of a joint promotion event of the Macao-Zhuhai Investment Environment in 2001 and a promotional event for the Zhuhai-Macao Cross-Border Industrial Zone in 2004 respectively. Currently, faced with new opportunities for the economic development in both places, under the proposal of Zhuhai, the governments of the two regions join hands together again and co-organize the Zhuhai-Macao Seminar on Investment Promotion and Trade Exchange in co-operation with the Investment Promotion Agency of the Ministry of Commerce and the Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of Guangdong Province. The governments of the two regions take this opportunity to share our fruitful results in regional cooperations and promote the complementary features and investment environment of the two regions.
Since the Handover, under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", and with the support of the Central People's Government as well as the joint efforts of all social sectors, Macao has attained desirable economic growth for seven consecutive years. The GDP growth of Macao was recorded as 16.6% last year. The total number of visitors has exceeded 8.59 million over the first four months this year, a growth of 20.8% over a year earlier. The number of newly incorporated companies has increased by 6.6% in comparison to the same period last year. The World Trade Organization has conducted a review on Macao's trade policy and confirmed that Macao remained one of the freest and most open regions in the world in terms of trade and investment policy.
At present, tourism and entertainment form the major industry of Macao. While fostering rapid economic development, they have also laid a solid foundation for Macao as a regional trade and service platform. Macao SAR is a service-oriented international free port and separate customs territory. There are no restrictions on foreign exchange and flow of capital. Macao pursues a simple and low taxation system with a ceiling rate of 12% for complementary tax and personal income tax. Its infrastructure has been constantly improving. With the Chinese Mainland as its hinterland, Macao has established close ties with the European Union, Portuguese-speaking countries and the organizations of Chinese entrepreneurs around the world. It laid the foundation for Mainland enterprises, particularly the private enterprises and small and medium enterprises in Zhuhai, to venture outside China and overseas enterprises to access Mainland markets through Macao.
However, we are also acutely conscious that, for Macao, a small economy with a population of only 510,000 and a total land area of less than 30 square kilometres, to align with other countries and integrate with neighbouring economies is the best option for its forthcoming development in economic diversity and sustainable development. Macao and Zhuhai are adjacent to each other, sharing the same Cantonese cultural background. With such close ties in terms of geographical location and human characteristics, the two places enjoy excellent foundations for cooperation. In view of the differences in social systems, natural resources and economic structure between Zhuhai and Macao, it is necessary to develop a mutually complementary cooperation relationship when a new round of development opportunities arises. Following the expansion and implementation of CEPA, the furtherance of the PPRD regional cooperation, the new pattern of Guangdong-Macao cooperation in the three areas of economy and trade, social well-being and cultural development, as well as the official launch of the cross-border industrial zone, the cooperation between Guangdong and Macao have developed in both levels and depth. Industrial transfer and cross-border joint operation have already become common practices in regional cooperation. On the foundation of cooperation and development of the manufacturing industry in Zhuhai and Macao, service projects have been launched orderly, and cooperation of service enterprises has also increased, the cooperation of the service industry will become a new trend in Zhuhai-Macao cooperation.
It is worth mentioning that building Macao as a trade and service platform is a strategic option in the sustainable development of Macao economy. The development in competitive and high value-added service industries such as convention and exhibition, commercial support and professional services, off-shore services, transportation and logistics can strengthen the competitive edge of Macao, and also provide abundant cooperation opportunities for enterprises in the region.
Over the years, the Macao International Trade and Investment Fair (MIF) has become an integrated exposition comprised of high rank political and economic forum, product exhibition, business matching, international purchasing and professional presentation and serves as a service platform of information exchange and cooperation for the commercial and industrial sector. The 12th MIF will be held from 18 to 21 October at the new Venetian Macao Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is Asia's number one large-scale comprehensive holiday resort integrating the functions of hotel facilities, entertainment, shopping and performing arts. Two major MIF partner exhibitions, namely the Mega Macao and the World Brand Exposition will also be held during the 12th MIF. We would like to welcome all officials and entrepreneurs to visit Macao and join relevant activities, and take full advantage of Macao as the service platform to strengthen the cooperation with international enterprises.
Here, I wish this trade exchange every success and I sincerely hope that the activity will provide more business opportunities for the entrepreneurs present here. Finally, I would ask you to join me in watching a three-minute presentation video about MIF.
(Full text of the remarks by Lee Peng Hong, President of Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute at "2007 Zhuhai-Macao Seminar on Investment Promotion and Trade Exchange" on May 28, 2007, as transcribed)