Donald Tsang

HK good bet, Tsang tells Kuwait

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 January, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong's economy is expected to grow by 5.5 to 6.5 per cent this year despite the economic downturn in the United States, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said during a trip to the Middle East.

He urged Islamic communities to take advantage of the city's economic growth and invest in Hong Kong and the mainland.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting with businessmen in Kuwait, Mr Tsang said Hong Kong provided a good platform for doing business with the mainland and that gross domestic product had grown by an average of 7 per cent a year since 2004.

'This year, the forecast of our GDP growth, despite what is happening in the United States, is about 5.5 to 6.5 per cent.'

He said investing in Hong Kong would help Middle Eastern investors to spread their risk in the globalised financial environment.

'You want to make sure your eggs are evenly spread in different baskets. East Asia is an important basket you need to consider. In this area, Hong Kong is here to serve.'

Securities and Futures Commission chairman Eddy Fong Ching, who is part of the delegation, said the commission was studying whether legislation would be amended to allow investment from the Islamic world, whose religion forbids speculative activities and interest-rate gains.

David Eldon, non-executive chairman of the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority - and former chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, expressed confidence that Hong Kong had the capability to launch investment products for Islamic countries.

Mr Tsang and Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah witnessed the signing of a letter of intent to develop trade between Hong Kong and Kuwait.

Mr Tsang also met the amir of Kuwait and the crown prince.

He started his eight-day mission with a tour of Kuwaiti oilfields, where he was shown damage caused by Iraq's invasion in 1990. Mr Tsang will later travel to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.